Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How many silent films were made based on Diary of a Lost Girl

How many silent films were made based on Margarete Böhme's 1905 book, Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, or The Diary of a Lost Girl. There were at least two, and possibly three.

The first was directed by Richard Oswald and was based on his adaption of Böhme’s book. This 1918 film starred Erna Morena as Thymian, with Reinhold Schünzel as Osdorff, Werner Krauss as Meinert, and Conrad Veidt as Dr. Julius.  As a film, this version of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen was well reviewed, but demands of the censor at the time led to cuts and even a change in its title. Once censorship was lifted after the end of WWI, scenes thought too provocative or critical of society were restored and its famous title changed back.

[The cast and crew of the first version was indeed a remarkable assembly. Oswald went on to direct many films including Different from the Others  (1919). Together, Krauss and Veidt achieved cinema immortality in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Schünzel would also write and direct; his best known work is the seminal Viktor und Viktoria (1933). Pictured here are Veidt and Morena in a scene from Tagebuch einer Verlorenen.]

In 1929, Böhme’s book was made into a film a second time. G.W. Pabst’s version of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen came on the heels of his now classic Pandora’s Box, a film based on the similarly controversial Lulu plays authored by Frank Wedekind. Both of these films starred Louise Brooks. Also appearing in Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl is Fritz Rasp as Meinert and the dancer Valeska Gert as the sadistic reform school disciplinarian. The well known character actor Kurt Gerron also has a role in this second adaption.

However, in researching my introduction to the just issued new reprint of The Diary of a Lost Girl, I found that some film databases, such as filmportal.de and IMDb, list a 1912 German production titled Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. It was directed by Fritz Bernhardt and produced by Alfred Duskes. Little else is known of the film, which is presumably lost. And, its relationship to Böhme’s book is uncertain. Does anyone know?

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