Großstadtschmetterling: Ballade einer Liebe (Pavement Butterfly). 1929. Germany/UK. Directed by Richard Eichberg. Screenplay by Adolf Lantz. With Anna May Wong, Alexander Granach, Nien Soen Ling. New York premiere. Silent, with musical accompaniment. 96 min.
Yunte Huang, award-winning author of the new book Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong's Rendezvous with American History (2023), presents the New York premiere of Pavement Butterfly on January 20. Huang observes, “Anna May Wong’s second German film, Pavement Butterfly was shot in France and set alternately in Paris and the French Riviera. It features Wong as a Chinese variety dancer who models for a young artist and in the process falls in love with him. As suggested by the title phrase, Pavement Butterfly introduces a new character type, a role that uniquely belongs to Wong. While the word butterfly implies the familiar Madame Butterfly, and the sorrowful ending confirms the film’s place in the Orientalist pedagogy, Pavement points not only to a new setting for this old character type but also to the advent of a new figure in Weimar Germany as well as European cinema at the time: the vamp.”
4K digital restoration by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum; courtesy Beta Film
Tragödie einer Uraufführung aka Wenn die Filmkleberin gebummelt hat (When a Filmcutter Blunders). 1926. Germany. Directed by O. F. Mauer. With Alice Kempen. New York premiere. Silent, with musical accompaniment. 14 min.
Inspired by Entr’acte, the 1923 French Dadaist classic by René Clair and Francis Picabia, this fascinating, forgotten satire pokes fun at both avant-garde moviemaking and mainstream film production and exhibition in Weimar Germany, focusing in particular on the prudish censors and moviegoers who would scorn the hedonistic excesses of the New Woman. A filmkleberin (film splicer) escapes her workaday doldrums by drifting into romantic fantasy. Her dreams of kissing a handsome young man suddenly become a film strip across which the word “Censorship!” suddenly appears, and all hell breaks loose when she accidentally splices this together with newsreel footage of the movie star Lil Dagover and a parody of a so-called Aufklärungsfilme (sex education film).
4K digital restoration by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum; courtesy F. W. Murnau Stiftung.