falderal : a moving images blog
Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney (The Love of Jeanne Ney) ; 1927  ·  Posted by Tallulah

Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst (G.W. Pabst)
Actors: Édith Jéhanne, Uno Henning, Fritz Rasp, Brigitte Helm
Country: Germany

I’ve watched Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney in bits and pieces in semi-conscious states but I finally sat down and watched the whole film at once. I do not regret rewatching this film at all and I think that this is the best Pabst film I’ve seen. I really love Die freudlose Gasse, but there is something about Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney that is so much better. I’m not quite sure why I love Die freudlose Gasse, but I remember the first time I watched it, I thought, “Hey! I really enjoyed watching this movie!” and my fascination with Asta Nielsen began. Now that I think about it, I think the reason I love Die freudlose Gasse so much is because Nielsen’s acting really caught my eye and there was something about her in the scene when she was at the jeweler’s that drew me in. So what is it about this film that I like so much. I don’t know. Just like me being interested in Nielsen and loving her in every scene of Die freudlose Gasse, I think Brigitte Helm’s performance as Gabrielle blew my mind. I really liked Helm’s somewhat hammy acting in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (and it totally doesn’t help that her sneer is one of the sexiest things ever and that peacock dance at the Yoshiwara is one of my favourite scenes from all the films I’ve watched so far), but her acting in Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney was PHENOMENAL. Édith Jéhanne as the titular character was great as well along with the oh-so-delicious Uno Henning as her lover. By the way, I totally thought Henning looked like Ewan McGregor, but maybe that’s just me.

In Pabst’s Die freudlose Gasse, I thought that Pabst did a great job experimenting with slow motion, different film stock, and lighting; with Geheimnisse einer Seele, Pabst did a terrific job with special effects/various techniques (perhaps maybe even overdoing it), but with Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney, I think he was able to really find a happy middle. He used various techniques he used in Geheimnisse einer Seele but didn’t overdo it and used them to their full advantage by using them as a plot device that fit in seamlessly with the story. Whereas Die freudlose Gasse has the potential to be perfect, Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney has almost reached perfection. Maybe Die freudlose Gasse appears to be a bit rough due to missing parts and scholars/film archivists not knowing the order of the scenes, thus restored versions of the film don’t guarantee that the presentation of the film is that close to the original, but Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney really was a step forward. I’m not making sense and it’s a bit hard for me to try to explain my thoughts, but what I’m trying to get to is that this film was a huge improvement from his previous films.

The film is a (melo)drama, but it had me intrigued almost from the beginning. I hated that Pabst started the film with Fritz Rasp because Rasp is truly a hideous man. I noticed that he always plays the sleazy guy in films and his face is really perfect for that. Seriously, his face just annoys the hell out of me and he isn’t even a good actor. He brings on the lulz (I can’t believe I actually used that term), but… dskfhksdg I REALLY, REALLY DON’T LIKE HIM! Jéhanne and Helm’s acting is so natural and beautiful, particularly Helm’s, but Rasp overacts in almost every scene. What’s the point of slowly getting closer to a girl and then all of a sudden grabbing her? And the whole kissing-Hertha von Walther’s-eye thing was really weird. Jéhanne plays the sweet, innocent, and somewhat naïve Jeanne and although I would usually be annoyed with characters like Jeanne, I couldn’t help but like her. The story is of lovers who are madly in love with each other yet something happens that separates them. Then another incident occurs that could separate the lovers but a nice man comes along and patches things up. Misunderstandings happen, murder, and all other great things that probably happen in soap operas occur, but the film implies a happy ending.
I really adore this film, but my biggest problem with it is the story. Although highly enjoyable, I wonder why the film leaves Gabrielle with an unhappy ending and doesn’t even return to her after her father’s death. Out of all the characters in the film, I think she has suffered the most and deserved a happy ending. Jeanne deserves it as well but Gabrielle was such a tragic figure that I couldn’t help but almost cry when she found her father’s dead body. I also didn’t understand why Gabrielle first flinched from Khalibiev’s (Rasp) touch but then somehow fell in love with him. I thought that she was able to see, despite being blind, behind is “friendly” exterior, but she somehow fell for him because he brought her flowers and acted as if he really loved her when all he wanted to do was get into Jeanne’s pants (um, skirt?). Jeanne was never comfortable around Khalibiev and I kept looking forward to a scene when she would tell Gabrielle that she is not comfortable with Gabrielle’s engagement with Khalibiev but that never happened. The final shot is truly a beautiful one, but it’s too simple to wrap up everything: how will Jeanne and Andreas (Henning) be together when there are political problems surrounding their relationship? One of Die freudlose Gasse‘s criticisms is that the melodrama overpowers the message behind the film and that applies to the film perfectly. I don’t agree much with the criticism for Die freudlose Gasse, but the happy ending truly seems tacked on like it just needs to happen. But things really aren’t that simple! But nonetheless, that final shot means multiple things, which is why I love it. The obvious one is that the murderer has been caught, but the diamond also can be foreshadowing Jeanne and Andreas’ marriage, and perhaps maybe it is a happy ending for Gabrielle; since the diamond was found by her father’s company, most likely she would be able to have the reward money.

After watching this film, I really didn’t understand why Die freudlose Gasse got all the attention out of the many films Pabst directed. The film isn’t even complete and the film is arranged by scholars guessing what the order of scenes are, and in comparison, this film is pretty solid. Maybe there are some missing scenes since I did read that this film was cut by the censors, but it’s not in the terrible state that Die freudlose Gasse is. Is it because Die freudlose Gasse addresses the political, social, and moral problems in Germany/Austria directly whereas Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney brings forth what was going on around the time the film was made but is overshadowed by the melodramatic story? I just think that this film is one of Pabst’s strongest silent œuvre because everything fits so well, but that’s just my opinion.

By the way, sexy Hertha von Walther is in this film! I almost did a little jig when I saw her. I love that Pabst usually has eye candy in his films and I completely trust his taste in men and women. Édith Jéhanne, Uno Henning, and Brigitte Helm were lovely to look at, especially Jéhanne! I also wouldn’t mind having Henning as arm candy as well. I really wonder how Helm became type-casted as a vamp because she was such a wholesome character in this film. Gosh, I really love Helm!

IMDb Link: Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney
Where to buy: Kino Video, Amazon.com

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