Edinburgh isn’t the only city to host a Fringe Festival dedicated to comedy, theatre, music and dance. Praha (Prague) also holds a nine-day Fringe Festival which this year will start on 27th May and finish on 4th June 2011. Events will take place in nine venues in the beautiful Mala Strana area of the city.
Over the past 10 years Fringe Festival Praha has hosted works by local, national and many international companies who fly in annually for the event. Most shows are very visual, some are in English, some in Czech, most last for an hour, and all are designed to entertain, delight and, at times, even challenge.
Before he arrived in Hollywood to leave his indelible (and inimitable) mark on timeless comedies like Trouble in Paradise and The Shop Around the Corner, Ernst Lubitsch created an expansive body of work in Germany that proved to be as varied in its tone as it was sophisticated in its measure of man and woman. Yesterday the Masters of Cinema release this box set: a collection of six recently restored works from the silent phase of Lubitsch’s career, casting new light on the director both as a fully-formed comic master, and as a virtuoso of cinematographic technique.
ICH MÖCHTE KEIN MANN SEIN (1918)
One of the first collaborations between Lubitsch and the exuberant Ossi Oswalda, Ich möchte kein Mann sein [I Wouldn’t Like to Be a Man] is a concise sketch of society life in three acts. When Ossi’s uncle goes away on a business trip, a new guardian steps in to tame the distractable niece. But Ossi finds a way out of the house and into a grand ball by way of a brazen cross-dressing scheme, and triggers what is perhaps Lubitsch’s most twisted finale.
DIE PUPPE (1919)
“Four amusing acts from a toy-chest” — so reads the opening title of the comic masterpiece Die Puppe. [The Doll.] adapted by Lubitsch and co-scenarist Hanns Kräly from a libretto by A. M. Wilner (based in turn on a tale from E. T. A. Hoffmann). Ossi Oswalda stars in a double-role as both the mischievous daughter, and automatonic creation, of a wildly coiffed “dollmaker”. When a wealthy baron decides the time has come for his prudish nephew to take a wife, an uproariously ribald plot unwinds into what is perhaps the world’s first-ever sex-doll comedy.
DIE AUSTERNPRINZESSIN (1919)
As Die Austernprinzessin. [The Oyster Princess.], Ossi Oswalda makes another turn as a plutocrat’s rambunctious daughter, now the heiress of a global oyster empire, devoting her wiles once again to the service of man-ipulation. A comic high-point in the master’s oeuvre, Die Austernprinzessin. showcases the trademarks of the “Lubitsch Touch” and its ten-fingered dexterity, resulting in a film that is simultaneously clever, concise, and risqué.