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Michael

Germany, German, 93 mins

Original Title

Mikael
  • Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
  • Writer: Herman Bang; Thea von Harbou
  • Producer: Erich Pommer

CGiii Comment

By no stretch of the imagination is this overtly gay...

Some could say that this is a simple story of a man and his errant, frivolous adopted son...But, reading between the lines...

Michael is a creepy, thieving, parasitical little ponce...quite possibly, the first depiction of the gay-4-pay phenomena...!

The photography is astonishing...but, like most silent films, the music will get on your nerves and the story is hardly gripping...the ending is pitiful.

Still...hugely important.


Watch...

The(ir) Blurb...

Mikaël is an artist who rises as his teacher, the aging Zoret, falls. Zoret gives Mikaël his start, and their relationship is sexual as well. Then Mikaël takes up with the Princess Zamikoff, selling gifts from Zoret and even stealing from the master to pay for his carnal and luxurious life with her. He abandons Zoret, whose health begins to fail but who also discovers spirituality in his solitude. In a subplot, Alice Adelsskjold cuckolds her husband and takes a lover, the Duke of Monthieu; their relationship, infused with the eroticism of art, also gives way to religion as the duke becomes ill.


Like Mauritz Stiller’s Vingarne, Dreyer’s film is drawn from Herman Bang’s 1902 novel Mikaël. While Stiller’s approach is significant for its film-within-a-film reflexivity—there, an adaption of Bang’s book is accompanied by a framing story about the making of the adaptation—Dreyer takes a different tack. His variation on the love triangle between a famous artist, the protégé he pines for, and a penniless aristocrat is comparatively muted in its homoeroticism, yet no less powerful as a result. Dreyer counted Michael as a favorite of his early films. The picture speaks through its sumptuous decor, its subtle performances, and, perhaps most crucially, its compositions, expertly lensed by the influential cinematographer Karl Freund. Indeed, Dreyer’s close-ups in Michael, which convey emotion so delicately as to make words superfluous, anticipate those in The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Cast & Characters

Walter Slezak as Michael;
Max Auzinger as Jules - Majordomo;
Nora Gregor as Princess Lucia Zamikoff;
Robert Garrison as Charles Switt - Journalist;
Benjamin Christensen as Claude Zoret;
Didier Aslan as Duc de Monthieu;
Alexander Murski as Mr. Adelsskjold;
Grete Mosheim as Mrs. Alice Adelsskjold;
Karl Freund as LeBlanc - Art Dealer;
Wilhelmine Sandrock as Widow de Monthieu;
Mady Christians as Woman

From the same director:

Passion Of Joan Of Arc (The) Word (The)

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