Pola Negri. Pola Negri. Her name keeps echoing in my head. Only because I keep doting on her persona and legacy. I never did expect myself to get obsessed with a silent actress but maybe destiny meant for that to happen. Anyway, my week has been spent watching and learning more about Miss Negri. All thanks to the darling existence of internet shopping (Amazon).
One morning sometime last week, I grew bored and visited Amazon, with expectations of finding nothing. However, I ended up finding many items worthy of my use and ownership. Miraculously, I found Mazurka, one of her German talkies. Yes, that movie, which I thought was out of print. It was a DVD. Well, that was nice. The movie is in Youtube so I could have watched it already, yes? Sure, sure. I have seen it. And barely understood a word of German. This DVD version, which I have not found anywhere, has English subtitles. Oh, yes! I ordered it immediately. It arrived yesterday after a whole week and I stayed up until three in the morning watching it.
Before I didn’t imagine it would bring tears to my eyes. Instead, I thought it would entertain me with Pola’s singing and fine acting capabilities. Well, it did, but the bigger part was the unfortunate outcome of events in this film. It’s all comedic and romantic in the beginning with some German girl playing hard to get with a well-known piano player (who has been following her) who she has been dying to kiss. When they finally do, she remembers herself and what her mother would think so she begs him to not ever see her again. Uh, he only thinks of himself and persistently calls her house. She finally answers and agrees to see him one last time because he will leave for Paris on the next day. He takes her to a cabaret for their date and Pola Negri comes on stage, singing about how disenchanted she is with love but remembers the ecstasy she had felt in her one hour of romance. The German girl is aware that she has feelings for her piano player companion and feels this song. It’s a bit coincidental that these lovers are sharing their last hour of romance and Pola Negri just comes on stage and starts singing about that all of a sudden. Ah, movies, you know? The piano player man kisses the girl just because he probably can’t take control of his lust. The whole room quiets, the lovers break their embrace, Pola Negri looks at them and her eyes bulge open from fatal astonishment. She faints with her silent movie style. Once the lovers are about to leave the building, Pola yells the piano player’s name and shoots him twice. There is a scream. Next, we see everybody in a courtroom and Pola says nothing. Ok, that’s all I am going to say because I don’t want to give the whole story away. It is just that great. My eyes watered in some parts where Pola suffered or screamed. Her acting was incredible. INCREDIBLE! Oh lord, especially in the end. Oh, it was much too sad! I plan on watching it again later today. I get melancholy when she sings “Nur eine Stunde”. The version is more heartfelt in German but the english version carries the same amount of passion as well. It’s crazily ironic that Hitler would watch this film repeatedly and weep while he suffered from insomnia. He later became obsessed with Pola Negri. But that’s another story. I very much recommend this movie! One of the best foreign ones I’ve seen! The direction is spectacular but the spotlight must always shine on Pola! This is probably her best talkie! I bethink of it now with sad emotions. Look at Pola when she sings those songs of love and see how she relates them to her life. Ahem, Valentino.
Maybe a day after that, I was undoubtedly fortunate when I found her out of print documentary. I happened to be bored and decided to visit the Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont. My mood wasn’t that great because I had to be around my grumpy father and hyperactive brother. I was getting a headache. I walked in, looked for some Lubitsch but the movies were rather expensive. I went to the silent ladies section and unexpectedly saw Pola’s photograph on the cover of a DVD. Oh, it was the documentary I had been looking for ages! It had been impossible to find! Even on the internet!
The documentary was made by Mariusz Kotowski, the same person who wrote her first and only biography. I didn’t really learn anything new but it still was quite enjoyable to watch. I put it on the DVD as soon as I arrived to my house. It was lovely to see the extremely rare footage (such as when she arrived in America or was a bridesmaid to Mae Murray) and all the pictures. I also loved it when excerpts of her films were shown in slow motion, to add more effect. Yes, I almost cried on the part of her death. Oh, why is she dead? Why during my lifetime? She’s such a big idol to me and has to be dead? Oh, dear. Good documentary, I must say. After watching this, inspiration surged up in my being and I started to think how the world is without her. We no longer have faces like hers, for a start. Or absolutely great actors. No exotic fashion. No dirty simpers. NO DRAMA! The world is a bore without Pola. Then since I can’t really do anything to revive her, I have decided to live hopefully a long tempestuous life (with many happenings) as she did. I want to find My Art, Love and existential purpose. These are all the things she did find when she was alive, even if there were consequences involved. I think she lived a fabulous life even if she had forlorn periods and issues with her health. She experienced things and dealt with them. Oh yes, the part where the death of Valentino was discussed nearly brought me to tears, too. There’s something about the intensity of Pola’s love for him which was just too beautiful. Pola is iconic even if she is barely remembered. If one is interested in her, he/she should watch this documentary if it is available. One thing I did not like was that the same people who talked about her appeared over and over again and I found that bit exhausting to see.
And at last….I have finally found a copy of A Woman of the World and ordered it. It says it will arrive sometime next week or on one of the first days of January. Oh, no. I have to move in two weeks! My favorite band’s signed vinyls are also coming….I have been waiting for three months! I’m excited for this latest Pola movie I ordered. She just has so many faces. In the entirety of a minute, she can seem hopeless, defeated, overjoyed, happy, pleasant and tearful. That is the main reason why I want to watch this. Though I consider the early films she made in Germany her best, I still can see her talent flourish in this American film. I don’t like the way the studios changed her appearance though! The bobbed haircut was not for her! Ah, when will it arrive?