Comments Off on LOVER DIVINE

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Willi Forst

grade: 8

Willi Forst’s fictional, black-and-white version of the life of composer Franz Schubert in Lover Divine is a work that embodies the romantic Zeitgeist of the 19th century more than ever before.

Worthy tribute to Franz Schubert

One of the first biopics in the history of European cinema, the directorial debut of singer and actor Willi Forst is a tribute to the world-famous composer Franz Schubert, a true Viennese who died of typhus at a very young age. Lover Divine thus stages a musical melodrama fictionalising the short life of the composer, who was born at 54, Nussdorfer Straße.

The film opens with a still unknown Schubert (famous Hans Jaray) who has to pawn his guitar in order to pay the rent. At the pawnshop, he meets Emmy (Luise Ullrich, Coppa Volpi at the 1941 Venice Film Festival), the owner’s sweet daughter, who, impressed by the young musician’s kind and gentle attitude, even pays more for the instrument. This action, of course, will bring the two closer together. The turning point of Lover Divine will come thanks to Kapellmeister Antonio Salieri, remembered by most as the ‘enemy’ of another precocious musical genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, thanks to Miloš Forman’s drama Amadeus.

The Venetian musician, played by the future director of the Burgtheater Raoul Aslan, offers Schubert a steady job as a teaching assistant, having heard of his talent in town. An unusual performance and a symphony that is still in the process of being completed will give Schubert the chance to meet the ambiguous Countess Caroline Esterházy (soprano Martha Eggerth), who is both interested in and condescending to the poor musician. The unexpected love triangle, which came about quite casually between Schubert and the two women, will displease everyone.

Released under the original title of Leise Flehen meine Lieder, the first verse of Ludwig Rellstab’s poem Ständchen, later set to music by Schubert in the Schwanengesang cycle, this 1933 production starred the Wiener Sängerknaben, the Viennese boys’ choir, and the chorus of the Staatsoper. After all, Schubert’s symphonies are always a safe bet. The good quality of the project, as well as the innovative approach of the debutant Forst, have therefore given Franz Schubert’s operetta a new cinematic look, giving the Biedermeier sentimentality and romanticism, typical of his compositions, to immortality on film.

Starrring an outstanding cast, where all actors are musically gifted, Lover Divinealso best represents the diversity of the vast Austro-Hungarian empire, clearly marking the distance, also cultural, between Vienna and the Esterhazy court in Hungary.

Full of quotations and anecdotes taken directly from Schubert’s short life, Willi Forst’s meticulous work includes, as a good conclusion, the world famous Ave Maria, here the farewell and spiritual testament of the composer who died in the Kettenbrückengasse in 1828. Already internationally renowned in spite of his short life, his fame will go down to history, also thanks to this Lover Divine, with the most classic romantic atmospheres. Entschuldigen Sie, Biedermeier.

The fictionalised black-and-white version of his life in Lover Divine is thus a work that embodies more than ever the romantic Zeitgeist of the 19th century. Watched exactly ninety years after it was made, the film therefore still manages to be a great portrait of the composer, further enriched by incomparable score notes. Dankeschön, Willi.

Original title: Leise fliehen meine Lieder
Directed by: Willi Forst
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 1933
Running time: 85’
Genre: biographical, drama, musical, romance
Cast: Martha Eggert, Luise Ullrich, Hans Jaray, Hans Moser, Otto Treßler, Hans Olden, Lisl Reisch, Ernst Arndt, Raoul Aslan, Karl Forest, Blanka Glossy, Anna Kallina, Paul Wagner, Gucki Wippel
Screenplay: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cinematography: Albert Benitz, Franz Planer
Produced by: Cine-Allianz Tonfilmproduktions

Info: the page of Lover Divine on iMDb