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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
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Genuine
(1920)
 

Genuine is a priestess once honored by her tribe, now captured and sold as a slave to a rich but dotty old European man, Curzon. In his village house, he cages Genuine who yearns for freedom and also for revenge on her captors.

Curzon is visited daily by his barber, Guyard. Filling in for the barber one day is his young nephew Florian. Genuine escapes her cage to discover Florian shaving her captor. She convinces Florian to murder the old man with the razor, then encourages Florian to kill himself. Instead, wracked with guilt he is bed-ridden.

When Curzon’s grandson Percy arrives, Genuine seeks to control and destroy him as well, but appears to fall in love with him instead. Meanwhile, the barber is stirring up village revolt against the house of Genuine. The mob bursts into the house, and Florian reaches her first and kills her.

As is implied by the opening scene, the whole tale is nothing more than the dreamy musings of Percy the artist, influenced by his favorite story and a painting of Genuine.

Approximately four reels of the film have survived, and viewings today are compromised by obvious continuity holes in the narrative. But enough of the film remains to give us a sense of the scope of the Carl Mayer story.

Wiene directs the film as a stylized ballet of death. Large gestures and dance poses are the order of the day. Fern Andra plays the frizzy-haired vamp, all flashing teeth and heaving breast. Hans Heinrich von Twardowski is Florian, her helpless puppet with an amusing hairstyle.

The set and costume design, largely by César Klein, is a standout feature of the film. The settings continue the Expressionist designs that were established in Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). The settings are more detailed than the previous film but continue rely on its Expressionist features to denote a dream world.

The surviving footage from Genuine was restored in 1996 by the Munich Filmmuseum. — Carl Bennett

2002 Kino on Video DVD edition

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 75 minutes, not rated,
with Genuine (1920) [exerpts], color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 44 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K254, UPC 7-38329-02542-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 7 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.95.
DVD release date: 24 September 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 8 / additional content: 8 / overall: 7.

This home video edition is a 44-minute condensation of Caligari director Robert Wiene’s Genuine (1920). The source print for the full-frame video transfer was a 35mm preservation print from the Raymond Rohauer collection, now held by the Cohen Media Group, which is of good to very-good quality. The print often is contrasty, with bright highlights that often result in lost facial details and sections of overexposed footage, and a few moments of exposure fluctuations. The print is relatively clean, with occasional speckling, dust, emulsion damage, and rough splices.

The film is presented with an electric guitar music score composed and performed by Larry Marotta, which does a passable job of accompanying the film in its unusually spare and quiet way.

Short of the release of the 1996 restoration of Genuine on home video, this is the most-complete edition of the film available in Region 1. We recommend this edition for its lengthy, although incomplete, presentation.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
1997 Image Entertainment DVD edition

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 72 minutes, not rated,
with Genuine (1920) [exerpts], black & white, 3 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID4099DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-40992-5.
Windowboxed 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, snapper DVD case (rereleased in standard DVD keepcase), $29.99.
DVD release date: 15 October 1997.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 8 / additional content: 7 / overall: 7.

This Image Entertainment edition includes two windowboxed black & white exerpts from Genuine — Percy’s sleep with Genuine’s animation out of the painting from the beginning of the film and Genuine’s seduction of Florian in the expressionist bedroom set (right).

The exerpt is accompanied by a piano score performed by Robert Israel.

The exerpts are far too brief for viewers to gain a sense of the story and thus too brief to recommend this edition.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2000 Elite Entertainment DVD edition

The Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema (1920-1922), black & white, 175 minutes total. not rated,
including Genuine (1920) [exerpts], black & white, 3 minutes, not rated.

Elite Entertainment, EE 4376, 7-90594-43762-6.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one double-sided, single-layered DVD disc and one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 6 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, two-disc DVD keepcase, $54.95.
DVD release date: 22 February 2000.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 5 / additional content: 6 / overall: 7.
The Elite Caligari disc is supplemented by the same 3 minute exerpts from Genuine that is also available in the Image edition of Caligari (see above).

As above, the exerpts are far too brief for viewers to gain a sense of the story and thus too brief to recommend this edition.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era ROBERT WIENE films available on home video.

Other GERMAN FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

 
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