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Clarimonde – a lost Weimar film?

Please note: the original intertitles in the found frames were in German. We have created our own title and intertitles in English in this slideshow.

On 1 April 2020, Surrealerpool received an email from a certain Heinrich Fritzsche of Berlin, asking if we would be interested in a series of frames rescued from an otherwise decomposed spool of film apparently dating from the Weimar period. This film he had found amongst the debris of his uncle’s collection of bric-a-brac, much of it film-related, that he had recently inherited.

We decided to accept the offer and in due course a collection of 39 film frames was delivered, including seven intertitles in German, but with no title frame or credits, consequently no information about director, writer, cast or crew, nor any indication of the running order of the frames.

The presence of the intertitle frames confirmed a silent film from Weimar or possibly Austria, and the subject matter would seem to be a vampire story (popular enough at that time and place, witness Murnau’s Nosferatu, 1922). Consultation with relevant historians revealed that it was not any known film.

The intertitles provided another clue: the two leading characters are named ‘Romaul’ and ‘Clarimonde’, which our doughty investigators were able to identify with the protagonists of a novella by Théophile Gautier, La Morte Amoureuse, (literally The Dead Woman in Love, although also known in English translation as The Beautiful Vampire), first published in Le Chronique de Paris, 23 -26 June 1836. On the basis of this, we could organise the frames into a narrative that provides a truncated and simplified story, loosely adapted from Gautier, and decided to give our lost film the provisional title of ‘Clarimonde’.

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