"The Burning Earth" (1922)

also known as

"Der Brennende Acker"


"The Burning Soil"

A Goron-Devlig Exklosiv film
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Released in 1922, Premiered March 9, 1922, at the Marmorhaus Theatre in Berlin with an all star cast including Werner Krauss, Eugen Klopfer, Wladimir Gaidarow, Eduard von Winterstein, Stella Arbenina, and Lya de Putti.

The story

This is the story of an old peasant who dies and leaves his farm to his two sons. One of them farms the earth contentedly, and the other, an ambitious young man, leaves the girl that loves him and takes a position as secretary to a count who lives in an elegant castle.

The count's wife and his daughter by a previous marriage both fall in love with the ambitious young man, but he turns his affection from the daughter to the mother when he realizes that the mother will inherit the count's estate, under which lies a great petroleum oil field. When the count dies, Johannes marries the widow. Afterwards, oil is struck, but the well is sabotaged by the spurned daughter. That
sets in place a path of destruction and death.

The film is acclaimed for its visual quality, the contrast between the simple rustic farm and the airy and elegant castle.

Wladimir Gaidarov

Wladimir Gaidarov (Gaidarow) was one of the many Russian exiles who eventually arrived in Germany after the Russian Revolution in 1917. He supposedly was the son of a noble family prince and a pupil of Stanislausky. Gaidarov had been a very popular actor on the Russian stage and had distinguished himself in Russian films in the late teens. Leaving Russia with the coming of the Revolution, he eventually arrived in Turkey, and in Constantinople he directed two films to raise money to aid the many stranded Russian refugees who had fled the Bolsheviks. He appeared in a few French and German films and received praise as the leading man in "Manon Lescaut," appearing opposite Lya de Putti.

Cameraman Karl Freund

To achieve his visual effects, bold camera angles, and bold lighting, Murnau had one of the most renowned cameramen photographing the film. Karl Freund, who began as a projectionist in Berlin and newsreel cameraman, worked for UFA in the 1920's and gained the international reputation of being a master cameraman. His credits include "Metropolis," "The Last Laugh," "The Golem" and "Variety."

Lya de Putti

Hungarian born Lya de Putti is best remembered as the seductive Bertha-Marie of E.A. Dupont's "Variety" in 1925. Reportedly the daughter of a baron, she began her stage career as a dancer in Budapest vaudeville and then turned to classical ballet in Berlin. Her film career began in a string of supporting roles, and after the success of "Variety," she was lured to Hollywood by Adolph Zukor. As fate would have it, she was typecast as a European seductress and appeared in five Hollywood films including D. W. Griffith's "Sorrows Of Satan."

F.W. Murnau

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau was with Fritz Lang and G. W. Pabst one of the three great German directors of the 1920's. Murnau was born Fredrich Wilhelm Plumpe, and he gave himself the name of a famous German artists' colony. He studied philology, art history, and literature before becoming a pupil of Max Reinhardt as an assistant director. During World War I he served in the German air force and was interned in Switzerland for most of the war. Upon returning to civilian life, he produced a series of films based upon the script of the famous German scriptwriter Carl Mayer, and, with Henrik Galeen, he directed "Nosferatu" and "The Burning Earth."

copyright 2002 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

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