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Michael

3.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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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
  • Language: English
  • 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: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006GAONG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,089 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Michael" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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It's not as good as I thought it would be, but not a bad movie either.
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It is rare that I write a review on a movie—this is the second time. I watch movies for the entertainment value they display, and I generally feel obligated to watch the entire movie regardless of how bad it may be. The best gauge that I know of is how a movie effects ones emotions. I wrung with anger throughout this movie, a sure sign of a job well done in its making. Whether the makers of this show intended it as a political statement or not has nothing to do with my reactions toward the movie. However, if they were looking to provide targets for rage they did succeed with me. I care not about any exhibited similarities to other films or written stories. In itself this film is well worth viewing.
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I liked the last 10 minutes of the movie i think.
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Lets see where do I start, First off the Movie Guy is wrong as usual if he had actually watched it, it was obviously Australia seeing as the credits said so, and what's with all this 1920 silent movie stuff. Like they say it's about human trafficking, with some interesting twists and turns along the way. So watch the entire movie there are some rough, violent parts but that leads to character development toward the ending so bear with it, it's worth it, Okay?
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First off, the two large geviews of a German film are NOT about this terrible film
Second, find the German film and watch it.
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Format: DVD
Shot in Germany and co-written with Thea von Harbou, who would write Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Carl Theodor Dreyer made this wonderful movie. A romantic story set at the end of the nineteenth century/early twentieth century, "Michael" is one of the first early examples of films dealing with homosexuality and bisexuality. Involving the romantic quartet between Claude Zoret, a French painter, his protegee, Michael, the art critic Charles Switt ' who has unrequited feelings for the painter ' and the Countess Lucia Zamikow. The latter a destitute figure whose presence entrances the arrogant Michael. Tempts him into doing acts that betray his lover for his master; leaving the viewer very suspicious toward the Countess. If her love for Michael is indeed sincere or just an attempt to exploit him and his master's wealth; and if what happened with Michael didn't happen to others before and wasn't the cause for her destitution. Making her quite the Odile character as parallels with the classical Ballet "The Swans' Lake" are displayed during the story, along with the Historical characters Cesar and Brutus. Again a tragedy like Dreyer has the talent of doing. Of Sacrifice. But also a beautiful Love story.

As a silent film, it is nice to see how each frame is composed and lit like a painting. People in the foreground and the background are displayed in very subtle compositions and symbolism that reveal implicit details about their personalities, feelings, and lives. Also the cutting and editing already forewarns about Dreyer's work in the Passion of Joan of Arc; along with Rudolph Maté's work as cinematographer in Michael and in Falconetti's future movie.
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