Forbidden Paradise. 1924. USA. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Screenplay by Agnes Christine Johnson, Hans Kräl. With Pola Negri, Rod La Rocque, Adolphe Menjou, Pauline Starke. Silent; with piano accompaniment. 73 min.
As they fill major gaps in our appreciation of Ernst Lubitsch’s silent-era career in Hollywood, we rejoice in MoMA’s painstaking restoration last year, supported by The Film Foundation, of Rosita (1923), and the Museum’s unveiling in this year’s To Save and Project festival of Forbidden Paradise (1924), Lubitsch’s only American film with Pola Negri, in its most complete version in nearly 100 years. A delightfully ahistorical costume melodrama about the erotic seductions and lonely deprivations of Empress Catherine the Great, Forbidden Paradise reveals itself to be what MoMA curator Dave Kehr calls “the first fully achieved film of Lubitsch’s mature period,” graced as it is with the comic touches and sophisticated rhythmic compositions for which Lubitsch would become legendary.
New digital restoration by The Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation