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Michael

5 customer reviews

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Michael + Different from the Others + Sex in Chains (Gay-Themed Films of the German Silent Era)
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Editorial Reviews

Danish film master Carl Theodor Dreyer's Michael is a mature and visually elegant period romance decades ahead of its time. Available for the first time on DVD, Michael takes its place alongside Dreyer's better known masterpieces as an unusually sensitive and decorous work of art and is one of the earliest and most compassionate overtly gay-themed films in movie history. Collaborating with famed German cinematographers Karl Freund (Metropolis, The Last Laugh) and Rudolph Mate (Passion of Joan of Arc, DOA) Michael offers the first fully realized example of Dreyer's emotionally precise, visually extravagant style. Based upon Herman Bang's 1902 novel, Dreyer's Michael refashions the classical Greek myth of Jupiter and Ganymede into a love triangle between an aging artist, Zoret (director Benjamin Christensen), his prot+ªg+ª Michael (Walter Slezak, later to play the Nazi villain in Hitchcock's Lifeboat) and Princess Zamikoff (Nora Gregor, Rules of the Game), an aristocratic femme fatale as entranced by Michael's youthful beauty as Zoret is. As Michael plunges from the dizzying heights of new love to the depths of theft and betrayal, Zoret experiences a spiritual rebirth from out of the ashes of rejection and despair. A film of exquisite artistry, Michael is both elaborately theatrical and remarkably restrained. Dreyer elicits vivid and passionate performances from his adroit cast, including the screen's only acting appearance by cinematographer Freund. Co-written by Fritz Lang's wife and collaborator Thea Von Harbou (M, Metropolis), this intimate and compelling film possesses a bold level of emotional detail and depicts the twilight of a male-male romance with unusual daring and subtlety.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Walter Slezak, Max Auzinger, Nora Gregor, Robert Garrison, Benjamin Christensen
  • Directors: Carl Theodor Dreyer
  • Writers: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Herman Bang, Thea von Harbou
  • Producers: Erich Pommer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2004
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006GAONG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,123 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Michael" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on November 26, 2005
Format: DVD
Brooding depression sets in when a famous artist's ward, and principal model, leaves him for a beautiful and much younger Russian princess. A young and not-yet-corpulent Walter Slezak plays the young model, and the title character, in Carl Theodor Dreyer's MICHAEL. Slezak, who's most famous as the duplicitous German sailor washed aboard Alfred Hitchcock's `Lifeboat,' is about the only recognizable actor in this 1924, German-produced, silent movie.

Although Slezak is the featured star, the leading character is Benjamin Christensen's Claude Zoret, the great artist, usually referred to by the others simply as The Master. The story begins, and spends most of its time in, the Master's mansion - one of those big, drafty, rococo/Victorian art mausoleums that looks like a toney funeral home and, to that extent, more or less fits the movie. Young Michael is feckless and self-centered, good-looking enough to step comfortably in and out of an Arrow shirt ad, and its his image that graces the Master's greatest painting, `The Victor.' Disruption arrives in the form of Princess Lucia Zamikoff (Nora Gergor,) who persuades the initially reluctant Master to paint her portrait. Before the paint is dry Michael is in love with her, and ready to leave the Master.

`Mikaël' was written by Danish Impressionist novelist Herman Bang (1857-1912.) (...). Danish film historian Casper Tyberg tell us, in his interesting and fact-filled commentary, that MICHAEL has a disputed place in the history of gay cinema. The movie's central relationship, between the Master and Michael, is at best ambiguous. There are, as Tyberg says, hints and `cues' of something more, but on screen there's only evidence of the Master's paternal affection, rather than passionate physical attraction.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alberto M. Barral on April 20, 2010
Format: DVD
This is a German silent film. Obviously it would take Hollywood at least half a century longer to get anywhere near this subject in such a natural manner, and in many ways, still to this day it has not produced anything to compare to this sensitive portrayal about an aging master painter (Benjamin Christensen) who takes a male model/hustler and aspiring painter (Walter Slezak) under his protection. Soon however, their relationship begins to change when both men encounter the gorgeous Princess Zamikoff (Nora Gregor) who is supposed to be ruined but happens to be on her way to the opera when she makes a visit to commission her portrait and comes back later dressed to kill, with an outfit that must have cost a fortune and that we must assume she did not pay for herself.

This clearly indicates that the Princess is a professional gold-digger-hustler, and though not a courtesan, certainly someone in the related business of living by her charms, with enough savoir-faire to be part of the trade. This is an important character trait of the woman in the triangle, because it makes perfect sense within the context of co-dependent sex relationships: She is hustling Michael as much as Michael hustles the painter and that is the actual mechanism of the relationship.

This is an excellent Dreyer film, not quite popular or well know here for the subject matter being an early example of a homosexual relationship. Most importantly, both of the men involved are portrayed as virile and masculine, there is no cross dressing, hilarity of character or the usual histrionics that was the sole, monolithic identity of gay men in an American cultural context until the arrival of "Brokeback Mountain".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By THE MOVIE GUY on April 17, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Jules (Paul J. Murphy) works for a large organized crime syndicate in England. He collects money from illegal fights and runs a farm filled with forced prostitution with girls from the Eastern Bloc. He was gotten soft and has empathy for the girls. His boss realizes the problem and wants to toughen up Jules. He sends some strong arms to help run the Farm. One of the girls is extremely rebellious (Melanie Holt) and makes trouble for Jules. Jules is also troubled by bad memories involving his dog being killed.

The acting was superb. You could feel the tension and anguish. While there are girls who are prisoners and work as prostitutes, it is not really a prison girl movie as the movie centers around Jules and his desire to do right in a bad situation.

Language, abuse to women, brief nudity.

Movie also released under the title "Hobby Farm."
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Underwood on May 26, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1924 German UFA production is perhaps one of Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's most overlooked and almost forgotten films, but seen from the perspective of artistic quality and character psychology "Michael" stands the test of time. Dreyer's style of intimate character portrayals, meticulous and slow studies of faces, expressions and characters' emotions are all brought to the fore in this somewhat controversial film about a middle-aged artist and his young protégé. Although billed as one of three `Gay-themed films of the German Silent Era', there are no overt references or gestures implying a gay relationship, and at times the relationships and feelings of the characters remain somewhat ambiguous and perhaps open to viewer interpretation, but deliberately so. To me, "Michael" seems first and foremost to be a study of characters, their emotions, and their relationships with each other. The scenes are mostly set in the Master painter's house which is filled with lavish and elaborate turn-of-the-century furniture and decorations which greatly assist in creating a certain atmosphere and the backdrop to the characters' interactions with each other. To enhance the character study, lighting is used very effectively, as are various close-ups, which was not yet commonplace in the mid 1920s as they are today.

"Michael" closely follows the novel by the same name, written by gay author, Herman Bang, who no doubt was able to embellish the relationship between Master and protégé very effectively, making the whole film a bitter-sweet study of human feelings and relationships, and lifting it to the heights of artistry.
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