Kino Classics releases a restoration of the German silent romance on Blu-ray
Set amidst the Russian Revolution, The Love of Jeanne Ney is a political melodrama from German director G.W. Pabst. Jeanne (Edith Jehanne) is the daughter of a French observer in Crimea. Her handsome Bolshevik lover Andreas (Uno Henning) becomes involved in her father’s assassination. There are many twists and turns in this silent screen adaptation of Ilja Ehrenburg’s novel, so many that the author didn’t completely condone this interpretation.
Jeanne escapes home to Paris during the uprising, coming to live with her seedy detective uncle and her blind cousin Gabrielle (Brigette Helm, Metropolis). Jeanne will have to reject advances — technically sexual harassment — from both uncle Raymond (Adolf E. Licho) and sketchy con artist Khalibiev (Fritz Rasp), who has sinister plans towards Gabrielle. Pabst uses close-up shots to reinforce the feeling of Jeanne’s horror and disgust at their attempts at assault.
Pabst merges theatrical styles in The Love of Jeanne Ney; the film shows influences of German expressionism in its portrayal of Raymond’s greed, has the feel of an American epic as upset villagers part kissing lovers in the rain, and subverts melodramatic tropes. As film historian Eddy Von Mueller notes in the accompanying commentary, where a typical melodrama has the hero saving a damsel in distress, here Jeanne is the one chasing a character to save her beloved.
The location shoots, the innovative cinematography, and some of the acting styles on display give the film an almost modern sensibility at times, although there’s also heavy gesticulation and over-the-top performance by a few of the actors, reminding us the film is almost 100 years old. The Love of Jeanne Ney is a good introduction to Pabst, especially in the new Kino package with its informative commentary and jazzy scoring. It makes one eager to delve further into the director’s ouvre.
The Kino Classics Blu-ray includes:
- A restored German print, from the European market negative, with an orchestral score from Bernd Thewes (based off piano compositions archived with the Museum of Modern Art).
- The shorter American release edit, mastered from a version preserved by a Berlin film archive, with piano score by Andrew Earle Simpson.
- Audio commentary from historian Eddy Von Mueller offers background on director Pabst and influences on his style.