Sylvester: New Year's Eve
(Sylvester—Tragödie einer Nacht)
Judith Rosenberg on piano
Eugen Klôpfer, Edith Posca, Frieda Richard,
A rare treasure by auteur scenarist Carl Mayer, Sylvester experiments with the subjective visual motifs he would perfect in The Last Laugh. The inability to “understand one another’s speech,” as cited in a Tower of Babel quotation, is conveyed purely in expressions and gestures, without intertitles. A pub owner (the hulking, childlike type perfected by Emil Jannings and reprised in Fassbinder’s films) is caught in the intense rivalry between his possessive mother and his long-suffering wife. It is New Year’s Eve; in the last hour of the old year, the bitter feelings intensify, and an incredible real-time drama ends in tragedy at midnight.
PRECEDED BY: STREET OF CROCODILES (Quay Brothers, UK, 1986). “The most sublime piece of frame-by-frame filmmaking yet accomplished.”—Michael Atkinson, Village Voice (Based on a short story by Bruno Schulz, 22 mins, Color, Blu-ray, From Zeitgeist Films)