film: Lubitsch: Das Fidele Gefängnis (1917)

I found Das Fidele Gefängnis to be very funny, very modern in its comedic virtues, making an excellent show of allowing the audience to see the whole picture while characters do not, so that we stamp our feet gleefully, awaiting what fun we just know must occur soon. It was acted very well–and all the characters are lovable, every single one, which gains points in my book–I think this could be characterized thus as a farce, as there’s never any immediate danger, even amidst marital mistrust, stalkers, and half the film spent in jail, everyone is always smiling, and for the few seconds during which there are hard feelings–they’re quickly resolved and kisses result. Perhaps most funny, I had to watch it three times, as the man is being released from jail, he and the guard go to hug and kiss each other goodbye, and as they’re nearing for the kiss, the guard belches and the kiss is given up. And this, this from a country in which I thought nothing existed in film but expressionism, noir, and Fassbinder. With all these films by Wegener I’ve been seeing, I was under the impression that this would be dark and twisted–I was wrong–the last place anyone would guess this from is Germany. I’m very glad to have seen this.

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