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„Eine ganze Welt öffnet sich diesem Erstaunen, dieser Bewunderung, Erkenntnis, Liebe und wird vom Blick aufgesogen.“ (Jean Epstein)

„I can hear your voice, Vincent.“ – On Marianne de ma jeunesse

I refer here to the french version of Marianne de ma jeunesse by Julien Duvivier, starring Pierre Vanick as „Vincent Loringer“. At the same time a german version was shot with Horst Buchholz in that role and an otherwise identical cast. According to its glorious launch events in Paris (March, 18th 1955) and Cologne (April, 8th 1955) unfortunately then the film was not a great commercial success. The film was too stubborn and formally ahead of its time, just like Max Ophuls‘ Lola Montez (1955). Ophul’s son, Marcel served as assistant director for the german actress Marianne Hold.


The author Peter de Mendelssohn (1908-1982), today primarily known as a great newspaper man after the Second World War and as Thomas Mann’s biographer, thus provided at the end of the Weimar Republic, the invention of a generation in constant motion, which does not come easily to itself. His fictional characters hace difficulties getting rest. These urbanites are constantly on the go, go again and against their homes. They drive cars or use trains, buses or aircraft to communicate day and night over power lines. Without telephone, notes the narrator, „the best friend in Berlin was soon disappeared from your view, and you’ve forgotten him or her properly and downright“.

„I can hear your voice, Vincent.“

In the center of his novel Painful Arcadia we have Oswald Laengfeldt. The eighteen-year-old has just finished high school, when he comes into this world of fluctuation and insubstantiality. Oswald gets a job in the feuilleton of a „major newspaper“ in Berlin and the competition in there, the incessant pressure to perform, the personal circumstances of uncertain and a creative desire, which is covered only partially. Oswald runs literally from one crisis to the next. Berlin serves as a symbol of „intellectual corruption“ par excellence, especially for a young scribbler, the ever lack of money. In the „rudest city that you can imagine“, including financial problems and writing are inseparable. The mere appearance of mass still remains impressive: In addition to well over 100 political newspapers, there are around 1930 still 45 morning newspapers, 14 newspapers and two evening newspapers. Neither of these circumstances, described by Mendelssohn much later in his great history of journalism Zeitungsstadt Berlin (1959) nor by the political turmoil of the reader teaches anything. It is essentially about the dis-charge amount of articles, hardly ever to their content. Mendelssohn’s novel reflects the „zeitläufte“ only taught in the bullying of careerists or capable of freelancers who, day after day besiege the editors to accommodate an article.

Oswald’s movements of thought are alike in this environment gradually the mechanics of composing machines: „I hate the unnatural pace,“ he complains, „these superfluous rat race that allows any man of sense to think a thought to an end because the beginning as early as the Linotype has. „Mendelssohn knows whereof he speaks. With incredible speed he throws at the start of his career, one book after the other on the market, and with some success. On the debut in 1930 followed the second novel Paris Over Me and in 1932, the third, Painful Arcadia.

„So you’re the one who had to come for me.“

Full-time Mendelssohn works then as editor of the Berliner Tageblatt before he fled from the Nazis to England in 1933. His prose is quite novel traces of that „German newspaper“ of the Weimar Republic, „with all its sloppiness, all that dilettantism and strange coincidence“ that one critic complained of in 1926. You can see that on the very first sentence of the novel: „It is an attempt to describe the overcoming of a youth.“ („Es ist dies ein Versuch die Schwierigkeiten der Jugend zu überwinden.“) That stilted german formulation marked above clearly the desire for a certain artistic design and owns a passive but responsible quality. The narrator brings here to validity and at the same time, just behind an impersonal „it“ he ducks away, such about a youth in „feuilletonistic age“ that demands personal commitment, but has no chance of success for this: „This life that is lived in the literal and figurative sense on credit, so Mendelssohn played by different scenarios: First, there is Manfred Vellin, a talented and complicated personality who pursues Oswald in a kind of intimate love-hate relationship. Then Manfred turn connects an unfortunate passion with Franziska von Burkom, a successful actress. With her, Oswald has to start an affair and realizing all the problems men and women possibly have when dominance is no longer first men’s duty, but still not quite work out with empathy. After Franziska Oswald joined Ellen Duvernon and Ruth Friedland. Ellen represents the new type of successful woman, who overwhelmed the men of the twenties hopelessly.

This time, Oswald does not fail from selfish impatience, but capitulates to the ambition and energy of the work of her partner. Ruth, however, is in need of help and is so far to increase the male self-esteem. But that goes well only in rare moments, because it represents the ruined educated middle class. The various women do not prepare Oswald as individual personalities problems. Rather, it seems to him just to „any woman“. „Of course it is nonsense to believe that any man belong together,“ says one of his friends, „every five minutes, bang, bang, and grouped around anything.“

So we have, for example, the meeting of the eighteen-year old Peter von Mendelssohn, who was born in Munich and grew up in Hellerau, a suburb of the city of Dresden, with that Berlin banker’s daughter and drama student who has become the archetype of the „Marianne de ma jeunesse“. Since the three-hundredth anniversary of the town of Brandenburg had to come, the festival of local patriots and an equally hospitable as bohemian way of living family from Swabia, in the park, the samples were held. But then from 1927 on had shown their impossibility in the social whirl of Berlin, so that the Strausbergerplatz summer idyll in the wistful recollection of a „painful Arcadia“ was the brightly burning, very youthful love of the „Arcadians“.

„I will hurt you deeply, Argentin!“

Then, when the plan of this book in the very first stage alone was born of its title further was developed by the impulsive Reclam (the famous German publisher) lecturer Ernst Sander (1898-1976) into a veritable job to the nineteen-year-olds. And so it goes on, to random chance. Sander requires changes, Mendelssohn then in 1932 wrote a second version. The acquired not only by the „naval officer publisher“ Wolfgang Krüger, but also sold by him at once to Paris, and emigrated as Mendelssohn at the dawn of the Third Reich, Krüger left him both halves of the fee for the French translation.

But then, precisely the French translation of 1933, drew attention to the man who was Duvivier’s artistic assistant in those days: André Daven (1899-1981), proposed the book to Duvivier in 1954, when his plan to bring Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes on the big screen failed because of the opposition of Alain-Fournier’s sister. So the famous telephone call for Mendelssohn from Paris comes about, and in a few months, the Franco-German co-production Marianne de ma Jeunesse – and then finally the re-encounter with the archetype of „Marianne“, came to a painful Arcadian end.

This international bustle is no accident. The German heath and native soil, some of the movie people of the caliber like Berolina production chief Kurt Ulrich from Berlin quickly helped tout. With new claims and the costs of dream factories grew. The actors were asking steeply honoraria. Similar phenomena had also begun in France, Italy and England – even if the causes were different. Everywhere money was lost in the national film industry. First, they helped with pure protection measures. About the American offer was restricted by quotas and production freely fought through coercion rates in the cinemas of „living space“.

So let us turn to the movie again for a few seconds: Vincent tells Manfred what happened into the Manor. He met a young beautiful lady called Marianne who seems to be a kind of prisoner of a man she called The Knight. She says she was expecting Vincent for a long time. „So you’re the one who had to come for me“ … At a moment she suddenly leaves Vincent because she can hear The Knight calling for her with his walking stick. When she’s back she finds Vincent asleep and she explains she was forced to stay next The Knight until he felt asleep because he was constantly grabbing her hand. A storm comes up, betted in the amazingly brutal but tender score by Belgian composer Jacques Ibert (1890-1962). Marianne asks the butler for the boat and they drive him back. Later The Knight will explain to Vincent that Marianne is suffering from a mental disease that began after she was abandoned two years ago by her lover, on the same day they were supposed to get married. And so-called forthcoming marriage ceremony is, in fact, a therapy shock that might cure her: „Maybe one day, when she heals, she’ll meet you again.“

„In a house which shadow extends across three frontiers.“

A film like a poem – committed to all that youthful pathos and symbolism, but also repeatedly penetrated by a hint of delicate irony, including a breathtaking cinematography by Leonce Henri Burel, Eugen Schüftan and George Krause. However, with the protective quotas alone, it was not done in France, Italy and England. In this dilemma the magic word was born: „co-production“. It arose from the simple consideration, that if a purely French film in France and a purely Italian film in Italy bring back only 60 percent of their costs on average, then you could bring about a French-Italian film together 20 percent gain in both countries. The perfection of the modern dubbing systems and the general habit of the audience to dubbed films let the language barrier quickly fade into the background. In those years, some 100 Italian-French movies were produced, including major hits such as Don Camillo (1952, by Julien Duvivier) and Lucrezia Borgia (1953, by Christian-Jaque). The celluloid connection of the two countries, however, was facilitated by their almost similar „public“ mentality.