Paul Wegener’s mad scientist designs a scientific experiment to test whether humanity is the result of nature or nurture. He impregnates a prostitute with the semen of a hanged criminal and voilà, Brigitte Helm. The doctor sees to the child’s upbringing, charting her development along the way and eventually falls in love with her.
The 2023 San Francisco Silent Film Festival Award will be presented to preservationist Stefan Drössler before the screening, in recognition of his commitment to the preservation and exhibition of silent film.
Digital restoration from Filmmuseum München, supervised by Stefan Drössler. The original German version of Henrik Galeen’s Alraune (A Daughter of Destiny) no longer exists. This reconstruction is based on Danish and Russian distribution versions, which have undergone various censorship cuts and changes. Some shots cut by German censors have survived in this material, while others appear to have been irretrievably lost. About 300 meters (approx. 10 minutes) are missing from the German premiere copy, including a scene in front of a whorehouse with Valeska Gert as a dancer. The text of the German subtitles is based on the director’s screenplay, which has survived only incompletely, in a report from the Berlin Board of Film Censors authority dated January 16, 1928, on the contemporary program booklet, and on retranslations of the foreign-language titles. Only the main title, some inserts and three German intertitles at the end of the 1st act have been preserved in the original graphics. Gaps in the material are bridged with descriptive titles in plain type. Information about the tints were taken from the Danish nitrate print.
Live music by Guenter Buchwald
Conductor, composer, pianist, and violinist Guenter Buchwald is a pioneer of the renaissance in silent film music. He has accompanied silent films for thirty-eight years with a repertoire of more than three thousand titles and has conducted orchestras worldwide from Iceland to Romania, Tokyo to Zurich. In great demand as a composer, he has scored silent films as varied as Suzuki and Ota’s What Made Her Do It?, René Clair`s Paris qui dort, Chaplin´s Pawn Shop, and Murnau’s Nosferatu. A soloist known for his virtuoso improvisation, he has appeared regularly at film festivals in Berlin, Bonn, Bologna, Zurich, Pordenone, and Seattle. He is a lecturer at the Film Science Institute at the University of Zurich and resident conductor of the Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra for Silent Film in Concert. He is cofounder of the Silent Movie Music Company and is musical director of Bristol’s Slapstick Silent Film Festival in England. He made his first appearance at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2013.