Czech filmmaker Gustav Machaty’s erotic 1929 silent feature is less impressive than his subsequent and most famous film, Ecstasy (1933), but it remains a striking mannerist work with affecting poetic touches. Chronicling a Prague playboy’s one-night stand with a provincial stationmaster’s daughter and the aftermath when she becomes pregnant, the film is somewhat dated in its conventional morality, yet its camera work is fluid and free, and overall the film vibrates with sensuality. (Credited as scene designer is Alexander Hackenschmied, who years later collaborated with Maya Deren on her early films under the name Alexander Hammid.) Machaty, a former assistant to Griffith and Stroheim, never fulfilled the promise of his early work and wound up making classy commercials for European TV, but he’s still a key figure in early Czech cinema, and the richer sections of this picture show why. (JR)

This entry was posted in Featured Texts. Bookmark the permalink.