In the Republic of Utopia, because of the bad economic crisis ailing the nation, the Jews are made the scapegoats for the economic and social ills affecting the population; therefore, the government decides to expel them.
Herr Leo Strakosch is among the exiled. He is engaged to Counsellor's Linder's daughter. He gets into the Republic, in a clandestine way, to show to the society the wrongness of their anti-Semitic prejudice.
This Austrian production is very surprising because of its foresight. It is directed by Herr H. K. Beslauer, who did well handling the very delicate matter of anti- Semitism as a tragic comedy. It is important to take into account the fact that we are talking about a 1923/24 Austrian production; which seems to foresee the sad events that happened to the Jewish community in Austria and Germany only ten years later. Hugo Bettauer, who was Jewish, wrote the book that the film was based on. A year after the film's premiere he was murdered by a young Nazi.
This is an excellent restoration by the hairy youngsters from the Austrian film library. Thanks to it, the magnificent photography can be shown with its original tints. This film is noteworthy for more that its artistic qualities, being a very interesting document of the Austrian society during the very difficult 20's. It is one of those very rare occasions that the European cinema, particularly the Austrian, has faced so directly (even though it is managed through a very subtle comedy), the anti-Semitism brought about by the economic and political crisis during the first half of the XX century. It has nothing to do with the German propagandistic and racist productions from the end of the 20's and through all the 30's.
Taking into account that references to this film are very scarce, this Herr Von does not know any information about Herr Hans Karl Breslauer or his other work. This film is a very good example, for its historic value, of "cinematic archaeology", and one is grateful for it.
The original novel from the writer Bettauer, had been and still is very popular in his country due to its cynical and sarcastic humour. The anti-Semitic comments are presented in a deadpan manner: "The Jews are guilty of our miseries"; "Even through the centuries of oppression (the Jews), they have managed to position themselves into the primary seats of the world thanks to their intelligence;" or "They sit into the most powerful banks of the world" or this incredible comment: "They control the economy and write theatre plays"
. ( MEIN GOTT ). In the film, one of the Parliamentarians, when they are debating whether or not they will expel the Jews, says: "We do write theatre plays!" and the Speaker says: "It is true; however, the big difference is that ours do not get premiered". There are many funny situations and an ingenious mocking of stereotypes.
There is also beautiful photography by Herr Hugo Eywo, whose excellent work can be seen at its best thanks to the very well made restoration, The production design, by Herr Julius Von Borsody is also meticulously done.
Even though this Herr Graf will not qualify this film in its totality as an "Expressionist", some influences from this great cinematographic movement can be found in the movie, especially when Counsellor Bernart is secluded in a psychiatric hospital room, where the decoration and the scene remind us in an obvious way of "Das Kabinett Des Doctor Caligari" (1920) by Robert Wiene.
The actors' performances are convincing and unpretentious though they are mostly playing (deliberate) stereotypes and certainly silent film fans are thankful to have this rarity, a black comedy that is prophetic of the anti-Semitism that only ten years later will take hold of the same community.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave, because this German Count has to take a stroll around the Tyrol.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/