The Student Of Prague
I was so excited to find this on youtube (thank you, cinemaocd) that I may have been overenthusiastic with my screen capping. Extra excited that it had subtitles. imdb tells me that this is the first film the BBC ever showed on the telly, in 1938. I can’t imagine why, unless it was pre-war/anti-appeasement propaganda - look how evil/mad/dissolute/duplicitous those germans are! An effect surely negated by the swoonsomeness of Anton Walbrook fencing his way into madness.
*I can’t imagine anyone reading this
at all who hasn’t seen it, but - spoilers*
How delightful he looks in his student uniform! Jaunty cap! Grin! Beer!
He fancies the birthday girl. She fancies him. Who can blame her?
Uh-oh. Time to insert some class issues. Opera singer trumps peasant anyday. But she likes slumming in the student beer cellar, and will happily sing a student song for them. Student humour seems to have changed little. IDEK
Anton Balduin is delighted to duel over a slight to her. Not as delighted as I am to watch him fencing. FACE OF GLEE.
So…class issues, a love triangle, beer and swish swish clang (to steal a phrase from the Merlin fandom). And thankfully, no actual opera singing. So far so good.
Oh. Some opera singing. But advancing the romance, and we get to gaze at this for a while:
Now, if Balduin wasn’t suffering from genre blindness, then he’d surely realise that Dr Carpis is a dodgy customer. The cinematography alone is a dead giveaway.
Balduin doesn’t notice! He’s in love. I barely notice, entranced as I am by Anton’s gappy tooth. My god, wonky teeth are attractive.
Now, here’s the first instance of Balduin’s hair as an external representation of his mental state. First snog = start of the mental disarray.
One of the things I really like about this film is that it’s fairly ambiguous as to who Dr Carpis is, and what exactly happens to Balduin. It’s not straight Faust, it’s more psychological. It’s almost Shakespearean. *cough*
Oh, dear, Balduin. You’re standing in front of a mirror with Carpis. This won’t end well.
Balduin thinks if he’s wealthy he’ll be good enough for Julia. Cue Anton swanking through another card game. Uh-oh, Anton, the cinematography’s trying to tell us something.
Dr Carpis is trying to romp Balduin through the seven deadly sins. Anton is indifferent to your flashy whores, Carpis.
Oh. Yes. Um. What?
Masked ball. As if he’s not already attractive enough, he has to work the Zorro look now too.
TWO ANTONS. I’m afraid my brain went to some sinful places here.
Having dragged my brain out of the Two Antons Gutter, I’m blindsided when a random partygoer ruffles his hair. Sweet Jesus.
There is plot going on despite my poor brain. Balduin is mad for Julia. But keeps seeing his reflection. The “sentimental dreamer”. Time for a minor breakdown. And some lovely hands.
"I’m going mad!". Well, Anton, one look at your hair would tell you that. Oh, wait, you’re not looking in mirrors, are you?
Plot plot plot plot plot. I’m slightly offended that Julia thinks Balduin will throw a duel just for her (surely, he’s the best fencer in Prague, he has his honour?). Poor Balduin, he’s got her, Carpis, his student mates and the Baron and his cronies all messing with his head. Still, swish swish clang!
This scene is beautifully played. The way everyone is unnerved and slowly deserts him, and he carries on throwing sixes.
And then fences against himself. With messy hair.