BEHIND THE DOOR
Behind the Door
(Thomas H. Ince Corporation, USA, 1919)
Dir. Irvin V. Willat, script: Luther Reed
Cast: Hobart Bosworth (Oscar Krug), Jane Novak (Alice Morse), Wallace Beery (Lt. Brandt), James Gordon (Jim MacTavish)
DCP, 71’, tinted, intertitle/subtitle: EN/PL, restored 2016, source: SFSFF
After the United States joins the war against Germany in 1917, Oscar Krug, an American with German roots, begins to feel the growing hostility of his neighbours. Oscar has won the heart of the beautiful Alice, but her family doesn’t approve of the relationship and when the girl marries him regardless, she is outcast from the family home. She decides to stow away on the warship which Oscar commands, but the ship is sunk by a German submarine and Alice is taken prisoner by the commander. From that moment on, Oscar lives with only one thought - to avenge his beloved.
"Revenge! Deep as the ocean!" was the promotional slogan for Irvin Willat's film and it was no exaggeration. The story is extremely dramatic, with no shortage of the macabre, but the viewer isn’t exposed to excessive cruelty on the screen.
This dynamic thriller, which keeps the suspense going from the first to the last minute, was made in the wake of the post-war reflections on the causes of the war that had rocked Europe. When the film entered movie theatres in December 1919, it turned out to be a huge box office success - the memory of the war struggles were still very much alive in American society, and people wanted to see stories on the screen that reinforced the heroic myth of their soldiers. From today's perspective, however, another message of the film comes across as more important – that you are American no matter which corner of the globe your ancestors came from, and that when the true test comes, there will be no doubt which side you are on. (AW)
The film was digitally restored in 2016 by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the Russian National Film Foundation, Gosfilmofond. The film tape is incomplete in a few places but the missing sections have been filled in with still frames and text, which means that the story loses none of its flow or impact.
Translated by: Paweł Włochacz
April 6 | 21.30 | Iluzjon cinema
live music: Jacaszek/Wiśniewski