Mazurka (1935)

I re-watched this masterpiece two days ago in the morning. My friend and I were chatting about movies and such. She recommended me A Clockwork Orange, which I’ll see sometime soon, as I recommended good old Mazurka.  I wanted to imagine her clicking on the Youtube link, so I did it. This is no ordinary black & white film; it’s 1930s German but not Nazi, it is a melodrama with tragic plot twists.

The first time I saw this film was at three am so this time my concentration was better.

I was just watching it for the sake of just observing a Pola Negri film. It’s one of my hobbies. Yet I ended up finishing it just as it fully caught my attention.

This film was a breakthrough in Pola Negri’s talkie career. She became a superstar in Germany during the 30s. Pola was phoned by UFA and they convinced her to travel to Germany.

Mazurka…how could I really explain Mazurka? The film is so sad, sweet God.

The film starts with a sequence of a first-person shot in a vehicle driving around the streets. The credits appear. I await this remarkable picture. Then I see somebody’s name.

There is a tinge of excitement.
There is a tinge of excitement.

One can wonder…what will it be about? What brought Pola again the fame she rightfully deserved? You will see.

The film begins with an innocent, young woman named Lisa, bidding her mother good-bye at the train station. It’s the first time she will actually be alone. Her friend runs to her and asks her what shenanigans they plan to do. Lisa refrains and says her mother could disapprove. Yet…..oh God…yet she remembers she has received two tickets to a piano concert from an anonymous admirer. Her friend finds this fascinating and they both agree to go, much to Lisa’s dismay.

The tickets were numbered. They had number two and number three. It was surmised that he would be number one. After mistaking several old men as the admirer, Lisa came to discover that number one was the piano player himself, Grigorij Michailow. I forgot the name he used in Germany.

After meeting and forcing her to dance, Grigorij started to beguile Lisa with all sorts of romantic charms as her girlhood took over her. She refused to see him anymore as he was even begging her to skip her lesson at the music observatory.

When Lisa went to her lesson the following day, she discovered that her teacher had left the virtuoso piano player in charge. Lisa tried to play uninterested. Grigorij blabbered about notes and variety and compositions and Mozart. They ended up kissing. Lisa saw a chandelier and closed her eyes for a minute.

Sounds like a quaint romantic comedy, yes?

She refuses to see him once again but he starts to persistently call and follow. Ah, the things lust can do to some people. She agrees to see him one last time since he says he is leaving for Paris on the next day.

At the cabaret, Lisa feels sad for his departure. Pola Negri (the sole Madame Negri) comes on stage and sings “Nur eine Stunde”.

This is one of the parts where my eyes water a little. Pola Negri had such talent and I sometimes can’t fully comprehend it.

Lisa realizes she has feelings for Grigorij and she agrees to kiss him. All of a sudden, the music stops and Pola stands just looking at them. She faints.

Grigorij, like the coward that he is, immediately decides to leave, but as he is running up the stairs with Lisa, Pola yells from the bottom of the staircase:

We hear a shot. The man falls down the stairs. Pola drops her gun. We thus are taken to an immediate scene in a courtroom.

Why did Pola shoot the man? What was her purpose?

I am not going to really say why. You have to see the movie because I would’ve felt angered if someone gave away the plot twists.

Mazurka is a tragic story about rape. The victim has no say in what happened and all humans denounce.

Screenshot (2007)Screenshot (2006)Screenshot (2008)

Willi Forst was fantastic in his direction. The shots and the way scenes change and even the special effects are great. He was even doubting Pola Negri would be in the movie because she had been blacklisted by Goebbels. In little time, however, she was not anymore. Maybe it was Hitler’s doing since he was such a big fan of hers.

German films are great. I mean, there’s the almighty Fritz Lang with his silents and M, but here is a film that doesn’t really leave my mind. It’s Mazurka.

It was remade later starring Kay Francis…but you know…it isn’t really the same.

I often feel upset when watching this film because of how Vera (Pola Negri) is unfairly treated. She had everything in life and, just because of ONE incident she was not guilty of, she loses everything. At the end, my eyes water. Pola walking out of the courtroom…Lisa….I just want to give Pola a hug.

Pola Negri is my favorite actress and she is the reason why this film is so spectacular, so ahead of its time. I’m sure things like rape and unjust female treatment were not much talked of then.

Pola shows emotion the same way she does in her silents. This proves she really is a great actress. She could play a woman at her prime and then at her very nadir. She had a skill to excellently show any emotion to the camera.

Yes, she knew the melodramatic tones. Passion was her life elixir, out of which she rejuvenated herself. Her desire to shake the world with her erotic temperament seemed unappeasable. When we rehearsed our big seduction scene, she told me, full of feverish emphasis: “Albrecht! The scene must get much more [copying her accent] earrroatic! Much more sexual! We are the most earroatic couple in all Europe! In Paris I have shot scenes: partner carries me downstairs. Tears down the front part of my dress – we can’t do that hearrrre!” One easily felt how much she suffered. (…) She was a magnificent colleague. I could listen to her for hours, when she told me humorous stories with her dark, cracked voice, whose truth was not always confirmable. She lived out of the richness of her emotions and continuously produced herself in the most enchanting manner.

– Albrecht Schoenhals, who played Grigorij. (Once again I thank for this great quote from his autobiography)

I couldn’t agree more with what he says.

And who do we have here??

Mazurka by Forst with Pola Negri. Really virtuously made. And Negri acts breathtakingly.

– Josef Goebbels (

HA-HA! Pola even impressed the most tyrannical idiots alive at the time.

I really, really recommend this movie. Pola plays a Polish singer…and the actress who plays Lisa is downright adorable! Albrecht Schoenhals may have had a horrible character, but he did a good job as well.

By the way, Pola’s high singing notes in the film are dubbed. I don’t know why. She could hit high notes easily.

If you want to see some of the purest talent you can get, you’re in the right place.


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