Gerhard Gruber (A)
Silent SW Film: The Mandarin
Monday, March 16, 2020 | 9:00 p.m.
Duration: 60 minutes
The Mandarin, one of the last film productions of Austria-Hungary, was made shortly before the fall of the Habsburg Empire in 1918. It was believed to have been lost after 1945 and is regarded as a forerunner of expressionist cinema in Germany. The film was only later rediscovered in the USA and restored between 2002 and 2004 as part of a joint project between the Austrian Film Museum (Vienna) and the George Eastman House (Rochester).
In his frame narrative, The Mandarin tells the story of a writer searching for stories for his new psychological novel in the Steinhof mental asylum. The institution’s director escorts him to the mad baron von Stroom, the ‘most interesting case’ in Steinhof. His story forms the main part of the film - the tragedy of a libertine. With the help of a small ‘Mandarin’ figure that comes to life, the baron obtains the ladies’ dependence and ends up as a madman in the gutter.
Music: Gerhard Gruber
Director: Fritz Freisler
Authors: Paul Frank, Fritz Freisler
Actors: Harry Walden, Karl Götz u.a.
Copyright photos: Österreichisches Filmmuseum
About the group:
Gerhard Gruber has been performing as silent film pianist since 1988. His fascination for this peculiar profession has remained unabated ever since. ‘This feeling of being right in the middle of the film was extraordinary and has remained unchanged to this day. The piano music is also a guarantee for the liveliness of silent film evenings.’
His journeys with silent films take him around the globe, from Los Angeles to New Zealand, from Mexico to Beijing. Gerhard Gruber's approach to silent film music is improvisation, which he views as a direct and constantly changing dialogue with the scenes on-screen. He loves to be intrigued by the films again and again, and to pass this fascination on to the audience. ‘ It is not only about the film – it is always the triad of film, music, and audience. This is why every evening is a unique experience.’