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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Michael (1924)


Starring: Benjamin Christensen, Walter Slezak, Max Auzinger, Robert Garrison and Nora Gregor
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £16.99


Certificate: U
Release Date: 12 February 2018

When the aging artist, Claud Zoret, takes in Michael as his new muse and model the two start a relationship, but when Princess Lucia Zamikoff arrives on the scene she steals Michael's heart. Michael starts to steal from his old patron, finally abandoning him, with the dying artist finding solace in spirituality.

Michael (B&W. 1924. 1 hr 34 min 19 sec) is a drama directed by Danish film maker, Carl Dreyer who co-wrote the script with Fritz Lang’s wife, Thea von Harbou.

Considering the time at which the film was made, the depiction of Zoret and Michael's homosexual relationship was daring. Although not explicitly shown, the relationship is nonetheless alluded to. Zoret (Benjamin Christensen) clearly has romantic feeling for Michael (Walter Slezak) and so when he is seduced by the destitute princess (Nora Gregor) the theft of his sketches is more than a monetary loss, it is a deep betrayal of Zoret’s trust.

Christensen leads the cast and has the strongest presence in the film, which makes me wonder if von Harbou had difficulty in writing roles for young men as a similar outcome occurred in Metropolis (1927) where both Joh Fredersen and Maria were strong and compelling characters while Freder was little more than a simpering fop. Likewise, Michael comes over as a much weaker character compared to Zoret.

The 2K restoration has really done wonders for the print. True there are instances where they could not repair some of the damage which time has wrought, but nothing which will ruin your enjoyment of the film. There is a consistent low level of grain, from the original stock, but the picture is sharper than some of the films from the last forty years. The frame rate has been adjusted so that the actors move in a naturalistic manner. They have also taken the time to rework the cards in their original German, with English subtitles.

The disc arrives with some good extras including a twenty-six-minute audio interview with the director, he discussed his life and films. The audio is clear and is accompanied with the occasional imagery. Davis Cairns provides a video essay (17 min, 24 sec) which explores the themes of the film.

The film has two audio tracks. The first is the new score by Pierre Oser, the second is an English commentary track by Dreyer scholar, Casper Tybjerg. The film has the option to turn the subtitles off.

Overall the film is driven by the characters and place. The set design is sumptuous to the point of decadence and while there is little in the way of action, the film expertly conveys the air of pain and betrayal which lays at the heart of the story.


Charles Packer

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