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Atanasio en busca de novia

A Basque Slapstick Comedy
Even a German count so distant from the Basque Country as this Herr Graf knows well that inhabitants of that place have always had serious problems with flirting. That's precisely the subject of the short comedy "Atanasio Busca Novia" (1925) directed by Félix González Berenguer "Lisfe-Gon-Ber".

In this mad Basque silent comedy, youngster Herr Atanasio; a madcap womanizer wants to flirt with Frau Consuelo, but unfortunately, the latter already has a suitor, Herr Benjamin who obviously doesn't appreciate Herr Atanasio's loving intentions towards his fraulein. Frau Consuelo's father favors Herr Benjamin and will assist in keeping Herr Atanasio away from the sphere of action surrounding his daughter. Immediately a frantic chase begins, extending around the town where many people are seen hunting Herr Atanasio. Finally our hero manages to escape his pursuers, ending the story with a triumphant carriage ride through town, Frau Consuelo at his side.

"Atanasio Busca Novia" is slapstick comedy; that is it has every subject of such a film's sub-genre; a catalogue of classic film gags that since the beginning of comedy have always worked. Consequently there are in this short film; a mad chase, pies in the face, pratfalls, overacted and mimicked performances, everything necessary to easily provoke laughter from the audience.

To have to resort to such classic gags seems too late for a film made during the mid 20's; a comedy formula that certainly always works, the slapstick, ja wohl!, but certainly not very original. Such lack of creativity can be forgiven due to its sincere aim to simply entertain and amuse the audience without any false pretension of a higher art form.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must breakfast a delicious Basque tuna pot.

Don Pedro el Cruel

A Very Important Spanish Pioneer Film Director
Many times, an entire life once filled with merit and achievement quickly becomes forgotten after just one mishap. That's precisely what happened with film maker Herr Ricardo Baños, known primarily today for his pornographic silent films ( a minor sin secretly commissioned by His Highness Alfonso XIII of Spain ).

But certainly, before such nonsense occurred, Herr Baños had both an interesting and prolific career during the earliest Spanish silent years. In these primitive oeuvres, Herr Baños skillful inventiveness shines through. Keeping in mind the scarce resources of the very early films, the quality of his work stands out for what was such a small Spanish Film making industry during that early period ).

The true merit of Herr Baños' work can be seen in "Don Pedro El Cruel" (1911), in where another Spanish king is involved; Herr Pedro of Castile, known as Peter the Cruel. Here, the film is filled with more earthly worries to deal with and solve in comparison with Herr Baños' later work ( idle and lecherous decadence seen in the flesh films mentioned above…).

The film's theatrical nature can be seen at the beginning, a historically realistic drama that introduced the actors themselves to the camera during the first minutes followed by ( static camera ) filmed scenes in a pure theatrical manor of acting and décors. But soon after, everything changes; the action takes place in an outdoor setting where can be seen some medium-length shots, careful art direction, and a solid cinematographic continuity for the parameters of such an early time certifying Herr Baños' true artistic concern for his work.

Unfortunately the second reel is missing so we cannot completely appreciate Herr Baños's skillful inventiveness at its full length; although you can certainly know what happened with Herr Peter of Castile and the conspiracy against him by his three bastard brothers ( if you have a dusty reference library at hand ). In spite of such inconvenience, the surviving reel has enough remarkable film achievement to restore to Herr Baños' his lost silent honor as a very important Spanish pioneer film director, and not simply the one who ( in a moment of weakness ), once directed some little pornographic films.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must conspire against one of his Teutonic rich heiresses.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Addio giovinezza!

A Film By The Person Who Directed "Prix De Beauté" (1930)
Herr Augusto Genina was a prolific Italian Silent film director almost from the beginning of the new invention. This gave him the opportunity to direct films of every genre, even direct the same film again ( in different years ), yet at times, his directing could be very ambivalent. Still, for any worthy silent film fan, he will always be the person who directed "Prix De Beauté" (1930), that early pseudo-talkie film starring the great actress, Frau Louise Brooks.

Although "Prix De Beaute" could be a very complicated subject in itself, this Herr Graf will try to focus his aristocratic attention on another Herr Genina's film. It happens that recently, "Addio Giovinezza!" ( Goodbye To Youth! ) (1927), was shown in the Schloss theater.

This film was a kind of initiation film; the story from a successful play by Herr Sandro Camasio und Herr Nino Oxilia ( who had directed his own film version in 1913 ). It depicts the life of young student, Herr Mario, a model son from a Turin family, who, besides his studies, from time to time will be in love with a seamstress; Frau Dorina, the daughter of his housekeeper, with all three living on a top floor of his home, separated only by a door. Such an idyllic love story will be put in peril when an idle bourgeois Fraulein appears; Frau Elena, for whom Mario is simply an enjoyable way to pass time.

So, it would seem there's nothing new under the silent film sun. Certainly, it's the same old love-triangle story about troublesome relationships, with a University, hormones, youthfulness and sexiness as its background in a somewhat tired attempt to depict again the process of maturity. Unfortunately, Herr Genina's direction fails due to his much too conventional and predictable approach of the subject.

The most interesting aspect of the film about the daily life of Frau Dorina and Herr Mario is their lodging; a credible indoor scenario in contrast with the typical dullness of the student Mario's life, as old fashioned as Herr Erasmus himself. The leading actresses, Frau Carmen Boni and Elena Sangro gave their characters personality, while Herr Walter Slezak as Mario, a mostly insensitive character, gave the three-some scenes in the film that were delightful. However, this was hardly enough for a film lacking any artistic ambition ( due probably to its dependence on the original theater play ).

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must try to remember if he was ever a youngster?.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Das Mädchen ohne Vaterland

Two Very Remarkable People
There are two very remarkable people in "Die Mädchen Ohne Vaterland" ( The Girl Without Fatherland ) (1912), making it a highly regarded film by this German count; one is Frau Asta Nielsen ( putting women first, an ancient aristocratic custom ), and the other, director Herr Urban Gad.

These important names in early silent film history did their best in order to lay the foundations of what we now call "modern cinema", although this may at first appear to be a contradiction.

Herr Urban Gad's films were astounding considering the primitive film the new invention had in such an early time. The Danish film director had a fluent film narrative in where outdoor sceneries were a very important part for the story ( it wasn't common practice at that time that directors would move lock, stock, and barrel outside the primitive settings ). Because of careful art direction and skillful use of the camera, Herr Urban Gad's pictures were far ahead of their time in comparison with the typical theatrical and static pictures of the period.

And what can this Herr Graf say about Frau Asta Nielsen??... it is not necessary to say too much about the Danish actress, ja wohl!... you only have to watch her performance in this film to comprehend what is both modern and cinematographic acting. Frau Nielsen's natural resourcefulness and brilliant performances continues to surprise audiences a century afterwards; shining here in this film about spying, treason, military secrets, or the perils of being seduced by a gypsy.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must sacrifice himself for his fatherland, bowing down before gypsy charms.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Dla ciebie, Polsko

Remarkable Action Scenes
The relationship between Poland and its neighbors, namely Germany to the West and Russia to the East was always a very complicated and troublesome one during many centuries, reaching a peak when Poland disappeared entirely after the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia portioned their lands between them until Poland surfaced again in the year of 1918.

The film "Dla Ciebie, Polsko" ( For You, Poland ) deals in some way with such historical events, specifically in the Polish-Soviet war and particularly on April, 1919 when Poland captured Vilnius, capital city of Lithuania. The film immersed this newly Polish state with a love story of young couple, Frau Hanka and Herr Franek into its story of war where the communists overran the city and the Polish Army clashed with the Bolsheviks.

The film ( from the silent year of 1920 ), was directed by Herr Antoni Bednarczyk who had a short film career as director but a long one as actor and theatrical producer.

"Dla Ciebie, Polsko" is basically a patriotic film; having in mind the historical events that reflects the picture and its recent context. The film has a shamelessly Manichean view, depicting Bolsheviks in an excessively caricatured way ( the enemy as a heartless beast ) taking advantage of this aspect in order to transmit to the audience a nationalist message that certainly was its primal purpose. Due to this, Herr Bednarczyk direction many times seems amateurish, specifically his direction of actors was excessively naïf and clumsy.

But fortunately, the action scenes are remarkable in that many extras were involved in order to depict in great detail the armed conflict between Polish and Bolsheviks. The recovery of the city of Vilnius by the Polish troops, superb night scenes in where tanks and a huge army do their best, fighting bravely in the battlefield, including skillfully made shots from different angles illustrate how remarkable this was for such an early film production.

At the end of the picture is included a newsreel of the return of the Supreme Commander to Warsaw in where Commandant Herr Jozef Pilsudski, a very important Polish statesman of that time, walks in front of the troops, certifying in this way the annexation of the city of Vilnius to the second Polish republic. By affording such historical images consistently to the film, the fictional story; namely Frau Hanka und Herr Franek's adventures are overshadowed by the considerable importance of the film as a historical document.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must claim an antique aristocratic farmland to Herr Pilsudski.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Svejk v civilu

A Funny Story Of Herr Hasek's Book
"The Good Soldier Svejk" is probably one of the most popular books in Czech 'German' literature. Most of Herr Franz Kafka's published oeuvres were written in German because in those times, the German language was the language of the elite and the Czech language was not very appreciated, spoken by common folks only.

Written by Herr Jaroslav Hasek, who had an incredible and thrilling life equal to Herr Svejk's adventures, the book was his most accomplished literary work, finally giving him both fame and money (although the author died before finishing his oeuvre).

The book tells the story of Herr Svejk, a common, simple minded (but certainly not stupid) man. Discharged from military service due to his not being very bright, he worked as a dealer in stolen dogs in civilian life. He would later join the army again, bringing trouble to anyone around him, living through situations from which he always succeeds.

So, having in mind the popular and funny story of Herr Hasek's book, it was just a question of time before this would be adapted to the silent screen. Herr Gustav Machaty was the third one who did so when he directed "Svejk v Civilu" ( Svejk In Civilian Life ) in the silent year of 1927.

It must be said that Herr Svejk was simply the motivation for Herr Machaty's film adaptation; our clumsy hero is not precisely the principal character of that picture. The story in the film is an original one which doesn't exist in the book. Herr Svejk will simply be the link connecting the four different characters; Frau Lo, a modern rich and whimsical fraulein who has an old admirer, the Baron Camera; Herr Pavel, working as chauffeur for Frau Lo, the latter trying to seduce him but the chauffeur prefers the seamstress Frau Anna who lives in Herr Svejk neighborhood; and last but not least, there is a dog named "Hero" which will involve everyone with each other.

These four will be the principal characters of this funny and stylish comedy in where Herr Svejk has a secondary although important role due to his clumsiness and misunderstandings.

Herr Machaty differentiates the scenes depending on the characters involved; on one hand we have an elegant comedy with a subtle eroticism regarding the "ménage à quatre" and on the other one, the common and funny situations of Herr Svejk and his business partners, a motley bunch of common people inspired by their everyday life and packed with puns and sarcasm.

"Svejk v Civilu" is a very remarkable film, a skillful and rhythmic comedy in which Herr Machaty develops gags in a classical way for a film where the literary background is loosely adapted for the sake of cinematic interests, a fact that certainly is what really matters, that is to say, an inventive silent film, and not a faithful book transcription.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must avoid meeting a Teutonic rich heiress in order to prevent unexpected problems.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Varhaník u sv. Víta

One Of The Most Accomplished Oeuvres During The Czech Silent Film Period
The organist of St. Vitus' Cathedral in Prague is an old, solitary man who is devoted solely to his organ (that is to say, the musical instrument…). One night, the organist receives a strange visit from an old acquaintance; the man requests a special favor of him, namely to deliver a letter and some money to his daughter. The visitor-tormented by a terrible past-then shoots himself in front of the organist. The scene is witnessed by the organist's neighbor who later blackmails him. Meanwhile, the visitor's daughter, a nun, decides to leave the convent when the organist tells her that her father is dead (was her departure due to listening to the organist playing "Toccata and, especially... Fugue" by Herr Bach??). The old man helps her in her new life.

"Varhaník u sv. Víta" (The Organist At St. Vitus' Cathedral) (1929) was directed by the prolific Czech film director Herr Martin Fric who later would be well-known for his satirical comedies; this film is also mentioned by learned silent connoisseurs as one of the most accomplished oeuvres during the Czech silent film period and certainly this film has many interesting aspects that this Herr Graf is going to detail right now.

The first one and the most outstanding is its beautiful cinematography by Herr Jaroslav Blazek, who uses filters and other effects in order to emphasize and enhance a romantic and dreamlike aspect of the story that certainly matches perfectly with the atmosphere of the city of Prague where the film was shot. For example, when our heroine is secluded in the convent as a nun, the cinematography is especially splendid, with powerful close-ups wherein her beauty is showed in its fascinating purity and innocence. Later when she leaves the convent and meets a handsome painter, the cinematography becomes more down to earth and romantic with the background of the streets of Prague providing a dreamy, idealized setting.

Outstanding also are the night scenes (Prague city streets, the organist's humble home, the St. Vitus' Cathedral) where we can see the influence of German Expressionism. This is also apparent in the indoor scenes emphasizing the dark elements of the story.

Besides mystery and atonement, the film has a continuous and well defined line between good and evil though it depends too much on stereotyped characters and their predictable behavior. There's also a rather obvious ending that is detrimental but overall these flaws are dwarfed by the film's many merits.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must play the organ.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Kreutzerova sonáta

An Outstanding Production Of The Czech Film Industry
Herr Gustav Machaty's main claim to fame and glory was due to an early talkie wherein a young fraulein romped naked and merry through the Czech countryside; this holds no great interest to this Herr Graf (that is, the success of an early talkie not watching a beautiful streaker). But certainly this does not do justice to Herr Machaty's silent achievements because before his notorious international success, the Czech director had already an important background as an assistant to such Hollywood directors as Herr von Stroheim ( a distant kinsman this to this Herr Graf… ) and Herr Griffith. Herr Machaty directed a number of remarkable silent films and "Kreutzerova Sonáta" ( The Kreutzer Sonata ) (1927) is one of this most accomplished oeuvres.

"Kreutzerova Sonáta" was an adaptation of Herr Leo Tolstoy's story which was in turn inspired this by Herr Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata". The genius of the Russian writer in depicting the conflicts, mistrust and decadence of love in matrimony, is skillfully transferred to the silent screen by Herr Machaty where the Czech director carefully shows through a long flashback the gradual deterioration of a bourgeoisie couple. The husband is driven mad by jealousy once he suspects his modern wife has a lover. Herr Machaty depicts in detail such marital conflicts, showing a carefree and liberal wife to whom family life holds little appeal. Instead she enjoys the resplendent night social life and neglects her family, paying no attention to her husband and children.

So we have a liberal, modern Czech flapper bound to a serious and bored husband and don't forget the important fact that the wife has a lover so soon the widening gulf between husband and wife leads to stress and resentment and we get a tormented psychological study of irreconcilable differences that will lead to tragedy.

With lavish art direction, convincing performances and skillful direction, "Kreutzerova Sonáta", is an outstanding production of the Czech film industry which was small and modest but not lacking in talent and inventiveness.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must put aside some differences with one of his Teutonic rich heiresses.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Tajemnica starego rodu

Two Polish Family Branches
Frau Alicja, daughter of the prince Herr Zamilli, is an idle bourgeois fraulein who shamelessly flirts with Herr Richard, her father's secretary. She treats him with such indifference and scorn that he enlists in the army in order to forget her. During troop exercises in a near-by small village, Herr Richard meets an old fisherman, Herr Szymon, who has a beautiful daughter, Frau Lydia, a young fraulein who has a remarkable resemblance to Frau Alicja; pretty soon both youngsters will fall in love. We then discover that Prince Zamilli has an old diary wherein is written an ancient family secret about a feud between brothers who argued over money and politics during the Polish revolt of 1831. As a result the families of their descendants lived separate lives each in ignorance of the other's existence.

"Tajemnica Starego Rodu" ( Mystery Of An Old Family ) was directed in the silent year of 1928 by Herr Zbigniew Gniazdowski ( a renowned cinematographer ) und Herr Emil Chaberski ( theater and film producer ); the film is a very interesting Polish melodrama with a classic and inventive story.

The film has different stages that the directors develop accordingly with the pace of the story; first we see the idle bourgeois life of princess Alicja (these Polish aristocrats are very similar to their noble born neighbors). Then the story turns into a mystery: Why do Frau Lydia and Frau Alicja resemble each other? Who is the ragged old man wandering in the forest holding a very important document for Szymon, Lydia's father? Finally the family secret is revealed via flashback leading to a catharsis that reconciles the two family branches and leaves hope for a better future.

The film stars Frau Jadwiga Smosarska who was considered in Poland as the "Polish Screen Queen" and who here is convincing in a double role. Herr Stanislaw Knake-Zadadzki, who plays the prince Zamilli, was one of the most eminent theater actors in his country.

Herr Gniazdowski's background as cinematographer shows in the remarkable camera-work and we must also mention the careful production design by Herr Jozef Galewski who captures the perfect mood and atmosphere in this larger-than-life film about romance, mystery and melodrama.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must unveil some old Teutonic family secrets.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Po zakonu

A Nightmarish Atmosphere And Tense Drama
If there was a specific characteristic among the Russian films after the Bolshevik's advent to power, it was a special care about film aesthetics circumscribed in propaganda; avant-garde films that perfectly combined a political message with fascinating imagery. However sometimes Bolshevik films deviated from that norm thanks to the mastery and inventiveness of their directors.

That certainly happens with "Po Zakonu" ( By The Law ), an astounding and brilliant cinematographic exercise directed by Herr Lev Kuleshov in the silent year of 1926. Herr Kuleshov's film theories play an important part in the success of the film.

The film tells the story of five gold prospectors on the banks of the Yukon River trapped during a terrible winter and is an adaptation of Herr Jack London's story "The Unexpected".

With minimal sets and cast ( this was a personal challenge for Herr Kuleshov, the claim that it is possible to accomplish a great film with few resources ) "Po Zakonu" is a remarkable and disturbing masterpiece. Fascinating shots of a wild environment ( nature is a main and decisive character in the film ) emphasize the claustrophobic atmosphere that drives the characters to desperation in their solitude (one of them shoots two other members of the crew).

The film is also a disturbing physiological study wherein every gesture and facial expression is studied as well as the impressive Russian body language. Here the avant-garde technique is in the service of a nightmarish atmosphere and tense drama.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must dig for gold in one of his Teutonic heiresses' private rooms.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/


Mechanical In The Purest Sense Of The Term
The current times are hard for the European continent where the financial crisis and the new economic order imposed by Fraulein Merkel ( Deutchland finally conquered Europe, ja wohl! ) on their partners demands austerity and budget cuts. This seems to be the answer to many E.U. economic difficulties as far as the German chancellor is concerned. A pleasant contrast can be found by watching films like "Turksib" (1929) directed by Herr Viktor Turin where we see the Bolshevik government investing in major infrastructure and forgetting what the word "crisis" means.

Obviously this Herr Graf preferred other more amusing private government investments as happened during the Czarist times when they held big balls with magnificent orchestras and served sumptuous meals to idle aristocrats. Unfortunately this was dramatically modified when the Bolsheviks came to power; they preferred more common and earthly investments like the building of the Turkestan-Siberian railway which is what is depicted in a detailed way in the film "Turksib". The huge and complicated project joined the arid plains of the Russian region with the icy Siberian mountains.

"Turksib" is a pure propaganda silent film without complexity so accordingly Herr Turin did his work properly and with due care to details and precision. The film lacks emotion in comparison with similar propaganda oeuvres of the same period with their studied aestheticism and powerful imagery that seduces the audience. "Turksib" is a down to earth documentary which wastes no time on beautiful landscapes and is mechanical in the purest sense of the term.

Technically "Turksib" is an excellent silent film with its superb editing so typical of the Soviet films of the period. The modern and the ancient are connected as we see workmen and engineers working alongside local tribes. It is pretty much a publicity report for the Bolshevik government but certainly an effective one.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must book a ticket in advance for the Turksib in order to put on the train one of his rich heiresses with the hope that she can be lost forever in such far-off foreign lands.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Jim Shvante (marili svanets)

An Inventive Mixture Of Symbolism, Ethnography And Propaganda
Deep in the Caucasian mountains is the region of Svanetia; cut off from civilization by mountains and glaciers. They have snow 8 months out of the year on their mountain pass and thus the Ushkul tribe has remained isolated for centuries, maintaining almost intact their customs and traditions.

"Jim Shvante" ( Salt For Svanetia ) (1930) was directed by Herr Mikhail Kalatozov and certainly is a brilliant, astonishing Soviet film masterpiece that must be watched by any worthy silent film fan.

The film is a semi-documentary about the Ushkul tribe, and their harsh conditions of life in their isolated region. Naturally the communists come to the rescue and provide a brilliant economic plan that brings the region into the twentieth century but of course their way of living and religion must go in the name of progress. It seems that Georgian film directors like Herr Kalatozov (who began his career as a cameraman), had a special fondness for documentaries, giving this film format an excellent opportunity to depict the special idiosyncrasies of the Georgian country.

"Jim Shvante" makes brilliant use of the camera and has man inventive technical tricks. Of course this is all in the service of propaganda but is aesthetically exciting Every shot in the picture is full of epic atmosphere and of course we have the contrast of Soviet progress and modernity (lots of close-ups of machinery and collective human efforts) with the underdevelopment of the Svans who are being held back by their religion and customs. The film is an inventive mixture of symbolism, ethnography and propaganda.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must continue his aristocratic isolation from the modern world.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Proekt inzhenera Prayta

The Debut Of One Of The Most Important Directors In Soviet Cinema.
The engineer Herr Pright has invented a new hydro turbine that is heated with peat, a plentiful natural resource in the surroundings. This method of processing peat is simple, safe and cheap so the hydraulic extraction makes it the cheapest fuel so consequently electricity will reach everyone. Herr Pright wants to build a power plant in order to exploit his invention, a modern project that will revolutionize the electrical industry, a development that is opposed by the all-powerful transnational oil trust led by Herr Orvil Ross.

By accident, Herr Pright meets his former schoolmate Herr Gem Torrinuol who introduces him to Frau Betsy. Herr Pright immediately falls in love with the girl who turns out to be the daughter of Herr Orvil Ross!. Torrinuol is also in cahoots with Herr Ross and the two of them hire saboteurs to blow up the transformers of Herr Pright's power plant on the day of its inauguration.

"Proekt Inzheniera Prayta" ( Engineer Pright's Project ) (1918) was the first film directed by the pioneer and renowned Russian director Herr Lev Kuleshov (at the age of 17) and was written by his brother Boris who also has a principal role in the film.

The picture was considered "futuristic" in those early years and certainly it was and of course is of great modern relevance at a time when people are concerned about dwindling natural resources and possible renewable energy. The film deals with such weighty issues of greed and exploitation in an entertaining way. It's basically a crime thriller wherein the shameful profits of the ruthless oil companies are openly denounced. The moral is that oil companies won't allow safe alternative energies because of their greed and will always try to thwart progress to advance their own interests.

Although "Proekt Inzheniera Prayta" was Herr Kuleshov's first oeuvre, you can see signs of his later recurrent themes and his love of Amerikan crime movies with their chases, mysteries and investigations. The film is a bit amateurish but certainly interesting as the debut of one of the most important directors in Soviet cinema.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must start blowing out every candle in the Schloss in order to saving energy.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Zakroyshchik iz Torzhka

Herr Protazanov's Skillful Direction And Herr Ilinksy's Comic Persona
Herr Igor Ilinsky was a very famous actor in the U.S.R.R. during the 20s; although with a drama theater background, his career achieved popularity thanks to his comic roles where he played simple and clumsy heroes who triumph through sheer stubbornness in spite of many complications. Herr Ilinsky's silent career as a comedian was linked to Herr Yakov Protazanov; he worked with the Russian film director in many of his 20s comedies either in the lead or supporting roles. These hilarious comedies stand out in a film industry pervaded by political propaganda.

In "Zakroyshchik Iz Torzhka" (1925) ( The Tailor From Torzhok ), Herr Ilinsky plays the role of Petya, a small-town tailor who works in "The Widow Shirinkina & Co.", a tailor workshop where he is the partner of the plump, greedy old widow Frau Shirinkina,. The shop specializes in both uniforms and civilian clothes.

In the same small-town there is Herr Semizhilov, a skinny, greedy old widower who owns a grocery shop; he has a young niece, Frau Katya, who works for him as a domestic servant. He abuses and beats her frequently. Frau Katya and Herr Petya are in love but their romance is complicated when the widow Shirinkina is encouraged by her witchy friends to marry her partner. Needless to say Petya is not happy. Fortunately, the tailor buys a winning lottery ticket and, after many misunderstandings, his dream comes true.

Herr Protazanov's silent comedies, although considered minor oeuvres in his film career, are very remarkable ones for their regional backgrounds ( sincere portraits of small-town and urban life ) and classicism in film narrative. He is of course obliged to put some political content into the movie but it doesn't get in the way of the humor in this very funny film.

"Zakroyshchik Iz Torzhka", was actually commissioned as publicity for the sake of the State Lottery Loan. We also have the shop-keeper complaining about a "damned" cooperative set down in front of his shop that he feels will ruin his business. There is also a small-town Trade Union Bureau set up to deal with the exploitation of domestic servants; thanks to this Frau Katya becomes aware that she's not a serf and that working conditions under from Czarist times are gone( put an aristocratic sigh here ).

The most evident political propaganda in the film is when Sunday voluntary workers ( Voskresnik ) launch a flying propaganda campaign in the small-town, namely a kite, that says "religion is opium for the masses". None of these political references reduce the artistry and humor of the film, a perfect combination of Herr Protazanov's skillful direction and Herr Ilinksy's comic persona.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must buy a winning lottery ticket.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Chelovek iz restorana

A Fancy Restaurant In Moscow
During the good old days of the Russian aristocracy, that is to say, before the October Revolution, in the city of Moscow there was a fancy restaurant which catered to the appetites and egos of the rich.

In one such establishment works a middle-aged waiter who is devoted to serving his bourgeoisie clients correctly. However, his life outside his job is very different: His son was killed during the Russian civil war and the waiter's wife died of grief as a result. The waiter's daughter is a beautiful schoolgirl but she has to drop out of school because of her father's financial problems. The waiter is obliged to rent a room in his small apartment. The young man who applies for it quickly falls in love with the daughter. The waiter finds a job as a violinist for his daughter in his restaurant (vive le nepotism!) but there she attracts the unwanted attentions of a middle aged factory owner who has lecherous designs on her.

"Chelovek Iz Restorana" ( Man From The Restaurant ) (1927) was directed by the prolific Russian film director Herr Yakov Protazanov, a very interesting film wherein different subjects are subtly outlined and put together in an understated and skillful way.

For example, the film depicts the different sides of Russian society before the Revolution; inside the restaurant exists a world of opulence and excess but outside that artificial atmosphere injustice reigns. Indeed even within the restaurant life is hard for the employees so the need for a union arises. The upper classes are depicted as corrupt and this point is brought home by the behavior of the factory owner who steals secret war documents and blackmails the waiter's daughter by threatening to frame her boyfriend (the tenant) for his crime.

These complicated situations will converge "in crescendo climax" wherein Herr Protazanov pulls together every dramatic element of the story with its opposing class forces until he reaches a frenzied finale in which justice and dignity finally triumph.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count is going to a fancy Muscovite restaurant with one of his rich Teutonic heiress (who of course will pay the bill) Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Kukla s millionami

Bolshevik Comedy
During the early Bolshevik era in Russia there were many serious experimental, industrial and propaganda films but there was still room for the occasional comedy.

"Kukla S Millionami" (The Doll With The Millions) (1928) was precisely one of those exceptions in a film industry that was more interested in avant-garde films or political propaganda. The director, Herr Sergei Komarov, had earlier done another comedy, "Potseluy Meri Pikford" ( The Kiss From Mary Pickford ) (1927), using, via montage techniques, the famous American couple's ( Frau Mary Pickford und Herr Douglas Fairbanks ) visit to Russia one year before. This latter movie was actually the astonishing Herr Komarov's debut as a director ( he was formerly an actor). These two very funny comedies certainly stand out amidst the otherwise sober and humorless productions of the day.

The film tells the story of Madame Collins, a rich old Parisian woman who is on her deathbed. Her two nephews, Herr Paul and Herr Pierre, are idle youngsters who care very much for their auntie, especially for her millions. When Madame Collins finally dies, the rich widow leaves all her fortune to a niece, Frau Maria Ivanova . No one knew about her existence because when Madame Collins' cousin escaped from Moscow she married a Russian and hid Maria's documents inside her doll. Madame Collins' will describes her heiress as 17 years old and with a birthmark on her shoulder. However, she will not actually receive her inheritance until her wedding day. Shocked by this development, Pierre and Paul immediately head for Moscow in the hopes of finding Maria Ivanova and marrying her for her millions.

"Kukla S Millionami" is a classic comedy full of the characteristics of this film genre, that is to say, funny gags with misunderstandings, chases and hidden identities and intentions. It's a funny, face paced story featuring resourceful comic actors like Vladimir Fogel as the elegant and debt plagued dandy Pierre and, Igor Illinsky as the more down to earth Paul. The feminine characters are also two different types; the Muscovite heiress ( Frau Ada Voitsik ) is a responsible science student in contrast with the Parisian Frau Blanche ( Frau Galina Kravchenko ), a dancer with a lot of temperament but not much talent. These four characters will interact and be involved in funny situations in a film that owes a debt to classic American comedies.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must track down an unknown relative who also happens to be a rich heiress.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/

Zhizn za zhizn

Herr Bauer's Work Is Still Refreshing And Inventive
The most remarkable aspect of many of Herr Evgenii Bauer's outstanding films is their modernism; that's the most representative characteristic of these early silent oeuvres wherein contemporary stories are developed with intensity and drama. After 100 years Herr Bauer's work is still refreshing and inventive which indicates how different his films are from the typical movies of his day which were often little more than filmed stage plays.

"Zhizn' Za Zhizn" ( A Life For A Life ) (1916) is the best proof of what this Herr Graf is referring to; that is to say, a splendid and modern early silent film wherein a complex plot is brilliantly developed.

The film tells the story of Frau Khromova ( Frau Olga Rakhmanova ), a wealthy woman who has two daughters, Frau Musia ( Frau Lidia Koreneva ) und Frau Nata ( Frau Vera Kholodnaia ); the latter one was adopted but equally loved by the millionaire widow. Pretty soon both girls will attract the attention of two different suitors, the Prince Bartinsky ( Herr Vitold Polonsky ) und Herr Zhurov ( Herr Ivan Perestiani ), the latter a wealthy fellow but the Prince, as usually happens in aristocratic circles, has plenty of noble titles but not a single ruble. Herr Zhurov suggests to the Prince that he should marry Frau Musia and in this way his financial problems will be solved; Herr Zhuriv will marry Frau Nata. The double wedding goes ahead as they agreed but the heart doesn't always follow clever plans so it is the Prince and Frau Nata who fall madly in love with each other, a situation that develops even before the wedding.

The problems caused by these adulterous relationships are brilliantly depicted by Herr Bauer with skillful editing and the advanced use of medium shots and close-ups.

As always happens in Herr Bauer's films, the art direction is particularly striking and the acting very powerful. The female characters, free and liberal, prove stronger than the male ones who ultimately suffer the terrible consequences.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must make up his aristocratic mind about true love or true economic interests.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com

Deti veka

The Most Talented, Skillful And Resourceful Early Russian Silent Director
For this German count, Herr Evgenii Bauer was the most talented, skillful and resourceful early Russian silent director of the pre-revolutionary time. His films were full of style and elegance and very accomplished in their technical aspects especially considering the primitive cinematographic elements that were the norm in that early era.

"Deti Veka" ( Children Of The Age ) (1915) although is not one of Herr Bauer's greatest works has many assets that deserve attention, especially as so few of his films have survived to these modernen times.

The picture tells the story of Frau Maria ( Frau Vera Kholodnaia ), a devoted wife of a bank employee. The couple has a cozy life; they have a baby but he is cared for by their maid so Frau Maria can spend her time doing terrific things like going shopping. During one of these consumer afternoons Frau Maria meets by chance an old friend, Frau Lidia, who will introduce her to exclusive idle social circles. Soon Frau Maria's beauty attracts the interest of Herr Lebedev, a rich old libertine. From that point on Frau Maria suffers continual sexual harassment (worthy of inclusion of any silent film encyclopedia article on beleaguered heroines) which she resists for a time. In the end however she falls into his bourgeois claws.

Herr Bauer smoothly maintains the pace of this sad drama and the Russian sets work very well ( Herr Bauer entered films as set designer ). We see Maria's peaceful life in her apartment with her husband and child contrasted with the luxurious settings Herr Lebedev uses to gain Maria's favour. The film narrative has a very modern flavor. There is also subtle criticism of the upper classes: Herr Lebedev uses his influence to get the husband fired from the bank and then offers him money to leave Maria and their child. This leads to a tragic denouement. Indeed the husband is the proper hero of the film and he suffers in bewilderment to see his peaceful life shattered to pieces and with it the loss of his family and job.

In technical aspects, the film includes light camera movements and editing that while not very astounding are quite effective in advancing the story; this is typical of Herr Bauer's well known elegance.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must leave one rich heiress behind and move on to another one.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com


Intense Pre-Revolutionary Melodrama
Frau Marianna ( Frau Vera Kholodnaia ) is a poor but decent fraulein who is working for the millionaire Herr Dymov; besides being poor and decent, Frau Marianna has also a special concern and talent for the Arts and it is precisely for this reason that Herr Dymov gave her the job of reading books to him. Herr Dymov has a son, a dilettante youngster who with the help of his wealth will seduce Frau Marianna who, besides being poor, decent and talented, has also a fiancée, Herr Sergei. Frau Marianna doesn't hesitate to leave her family and fiancée in order to obtain the splendid life offered by Herr Dymov Jr. Alas; their romance is short lived.

"Mirazhi" ( Mirages ) (1915) was another fruitful collaboration between the pioneer silent film director, Herr Pyotr Chardynin and the Russian star Frau Vera Kholodnaia; the film is one of those intense pre-revolutionary melodramas so characteristic of the Russian early silent times before the coming of Bolshevism which definitely put an end to a peculiar film artistic style.

But that subject certainly doesn't mean that Russian pre-revolutionary oeuvres were lacking in interest or did not achieve important artistic developments; on the contrary, as can be seen in "Mirazhi", the wealthy bourgeois life and the contrast with the very different social realities and the daily hardships of the lower class provide an opportunity to create stylized melodramas in the vein of great Russian literature. Deception and tragedy are skillfully depicted in a mere half hour.

Herr Chardynin's film settings are always careful and rich in details, including outdoor scenes that open up the story and prevent it from becoming a mere filmed stage play. The heroine, trapped in a golden cage and doomed, is splendidly portrayed by Frau Kholodnaia.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must do the same as Frau Marianna did except imitate her tragic final decision, natürlich!.

Molchi, grust... molchi

Great Russian Pre-revolutionary silent film
The Russian pre-revolutionary silent films were quite different in aesthetics and technical aspects in comparison with the Bolshevik ones. Films in the pre-Marxist period were mostly melodramas, carefully made and stylized with the classes being much idealized and romanticized. They also tended to be static and theatrical and usually without the intense and skillful narrative of the later films.

Herr Pyotr Chardynin was one of these well regarded pre-revolutionary silent directors who worked, besides in old Russia, in many European countries and his star is Frau Vera Kholodnaia, the most important and famous actress during Russian silent times. Their film "Molchi, Grust, Molchi ( Be Silent, My Sorrow, Be Silent ) (1918), is one of the last pre-revolutionary films and is typical of that period. It has a larger-than-life story wherein Frau Kholodnaia shines thanks to her restrained, modern performance and great beauty.

The film tells the story of two humble circus actors, Frau Paula und Herr Lorio. Herr Lorio's fondness for booze causes him to have an accident while performing as a clown acrobat. He is crippled for life and the couple is obliged to become street musicians in order to make a living. Paula's beauty always attracted many men even during her circus times; now as street musicians, the couple performs sometimes at parties given by rich gentleman where Paula enchants many with her singing and good looks. One of the aristocrats seduces her and she leaves her husband to become his mistress. This leads to emotional turmoil and deception.

The film includes a kind of moral lesson in its story, namely the risks in store for those fascinated by money and the easy life ( the delights of bourgeois style, as is mentioned in the film's opening credits). Our heroine discovers this when she exchanges her modest but happy former life for one of riches which is full of false appearances and selfishness, ultimately dragging her into the abyss.

The film's sets achieve the perfect mood implicit in the story, depicting accordingly the circus atmosphere and contrasting FrauPaula's and Herr Lorio's modest home with luxurious bourgeois apartments. It combines realism and romanticism to create an intense drama full of mixed emotions.

It can be appreciated also in the film the careful use of medium shots and close-ups as well as some slight camera movement. The stylized movie works very well thanks to Herr Chardynin's remarkable direction. Alas, only the first half of the film has survived so we don't know how Frau Paula dealt with her trying circumstances, made even more difficult by an accidental murder! And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must silence one of his Teutonic rich heiress' shrieking voice.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com

Pyat narechenykh

The Terrible Time Of Russian Civil War
During the Russian civil war, the Whites, that anti-Communist force that fought against the Bolsheviks during that period, capture a Jewish Ukranian village; the gang commander threatens a pogrom, and will kill everyone in the village unless the inhabitants agree to give to the White Officers five virgin girls in wedding dresses. Under such terrible pressure, the Jewish council of the town decides, full of sorrow and despair, to sacrifice their daughters to the drunken officers but fortunately and just in time, a detachment of partisans that belong to the Red Army, comes and frees the village.

"Pyat Nevest" ( Five Brides ) was directed by the Ukranian film director, Herr Aleksandr Solovyov in the silent year of 1930.

Although the film is incomplete, the film narrative loses none of its power and emotion as Herr Soloyov builds the pace to a crescendo. There is much tension in this drama wherein the helpless villagers are at the mercy of the unmerciful Whites.

The scenes showing the terrible proceedings of choosing the five victims captures a sense of isolation and despair and runs parallel to the partisans making their plans to free the village. Standing out, as always, is Herr Amvrosi Buchma, one of the best Ukranian silent actors. Of course the story ends happily thanks to the liberating Red Army (of which Herr Solovyov was once a member). The contrast between the different groups in this terrible time of civil war makes for an interesting cultural drama as well And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must get rid of five wedding proposals from some of his Teutonic heiresses.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com


A Great Film About Hypocrisy And Selfishness
During the Franco-Prussian war, inside a small wagon, a group of people are travelling through occupied France from Rouen to Havre on business. The little party includes a wine merchant and a factory owner together with their wives, a count and a countess, two nuns and an old bachelor; even war does not discourage these nine French patriots from their journey.

Since they left Rouen in a hurry at dawn there was no time for breakfast and without any provisions for the trip, the travelers soon get hungry and cranky. They are joined by Frau Boule-de-suif (played by Frau Elizabeth Rousset ) who has suffered an accident on the road with her cart. The wine merchant immediately recognizes her as a member of the world's oldest profession, a hussy as they call her. The travelers scorn her until she produces food enough for a week. That makes them quickly forget their prejudices.

They all stop at a hotel to rest but a Prussian officer, who demands their papers, also recognizes Frau Boule-de-suif and insists that she become his mistress. Since our heroine hates Prussians, she refuses but the officer tells her the entourage will be not allowed to continue on their journey unless she changes her mind.

"Pyshka", was the first film directed by Herr Mikhail Romm in the late year ( regarding silent films ) of 1934; based on Herr Guy de Maupassant's novel, the film is a splendid and ironic portrait of how supposedly strong convictions can be ignored or betrayed when other powerful earthy and selfish interests appear.

It is a sharp study about hypocrisy. Herr Romm brilliantly shows these human contradictions and betrayed principles and depicts in detailed close-ups the peculiar personalities of the different travelers in their close quarters (a small wagon and a hotel). This is not a very easy task but it is accomplished thanks to excellent actors, beautiful art direction and splendid cinematography. The final irony is that strong convictions like honor and patriotism can fall by the wayside when human weaknesses such as hunger or greed rear their heads.. The travelers are hypocrites in spite of their pious beliefs and only Frau Boul-de-suif is honest. She will suffer for her sincerity because her companions are pursuing their own interests and will forget and despise her again once their aims have been accomplished.

"Pyshka" is a great film about hypocrisy and selfishness and a brilliant adaptation of Herr Maupassant's literary work thanks to Herr Romm and the brilliant cinematography, ja wohl!.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must join such peculiar frenchified little party.


Man And Machine Work Together In A Fruitful Collaboration
"Odinnadtsatyy" ( The Eleventh Year ) was directed by the documentary maker and film theorist Herr Dziga Vertov in the silent year of 1928 in order to commemorate, not the tenth but the eleventh anniversary of the October revolution ( Germans also very much like to celebrate Oktober but in a very different kind of way… ).

In Herr Vertov's oeuvre there is a special fondness for showing the hard labor of his countrymen in industrial production to strengthen the U.S.S.R. economy and turning their country into a world power. The 11tth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution was a perfect excuse for Herr Vertov to put in images his artistic recurring allegories and national patriotism.

So consequently in "Odinnadtsatyy" there are a lot of pistons, cylinders and machines that rattle, clatter and whirl, composing a hypnotic industrial symphony that forms part of the score of the construction and modernization of a powerful U.S.R.R.. In some ways this is very repetitive and certainly monotonous as is hard industrial work in real life (At least according to what this Herr Von has heard since German counts really know nothing about such a subject…). Workers are the main actors of the film and we see them laboring in power stations, cooperatives or mines in the Ukraine, all under the inspiring influence of Herr Lenin who is shown in one shot. Man and machine work together in a fruitful collaboration.

"Oddinnadtsatyy" is full of Herr Vertov's characteristic artistic style and brilliant editing, all in the service of shameless propaganda which has the sole purpose of lifting the nationalism of the Soviet people, a goal that certainly is achieved for supporters and followers of the Bolshevik cause, ja wohl!.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must celebrate the 100th anniversary of one of his Teutonic and rich heiresses.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com

Shestaya chast mira

Mesmerizing Film Collage As Fascinating As The Extinct U.S.R.R. itself
Herr Dziga Vertov was certainly one of the most important film directors in the history of the U.S.S.R., an innovative director, documentary maker and film theorist who used cinematography as the perfect vehicle for his artistic endeavors, achievements not always fully understood or shared by either his colleagues or the Soviet authorities.

Herr Dziga Vertov's film style "Kino-Glaz" ( Cinema Eye ) reflects perfectly the artistic concerns that the Russian director had in the mid 20's, films wherein the use of editing is fundamental in order to put in images Herr Vertov's film artistic theories about the camera capturing reality. However, this is something of a contradiction because editing is in a certain way the manipulation of reality… "Shestaya Chast Mira" ( One-Sixth Of The World ) (1926) was commissioned by Gostorg, an agency of the Russian Government. Not surprisingly, the film is a paean to the powerful possibilities of the U.S.R.R., a big country composed of an enormous diversity of people, races and nationalities, masters of the sixth part of the world who will put their efforts in the service of their country to make it a world power.

Herr Vertov shows us many industrial sequences, the exporting of Soviet goods and a detailed ethnographical study of the many peoples that make up the Soviet Union. It is masterful propaganda. The use of editing is certainly astonishing and obviously fundamental for this kind of picture wherein different shots and sequences melt together to convey a political message and an artistic study, including fascinating camera angles and film techniques like split screens, animation and the travelling camera. All this creates mesmerizing film collage as fascinating as the extinct U.S.R.R. itself.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must ask for the whole part of his inheritance from one of his Teutonic rich heiresses.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com

Kosmicheskiy reys: Fantasticheskaya novella

A Communist Manned Spaceship To The Moon
Since Herr Georges Méliès visited the moon at the beginning of the last century, there have been many attempts to do likewise by other directors who were fascinated by the incredible space travel and bizarre landscapes and creatures that Herr Méliès showed in his masterpiece. However, this was not an easy task at all, as illustrated by the story of Herr Vasili Zhuravlyov who, because of political censorship, endured much frustration and many delays in sending a communist manned spaceship to the moon. He finally was able to make his dream come true in the late year of 1936 under the now extinct Stalinist U.S.S. R.

Such a complicated space travel project is depicted powerfully in "Komicheskiy Reys: Fantasticheskaya Novella" ( "Cosmic Journey" ), a very interesting and inventive sci-fi film with special effects that are very different from those today but are still skillfully done. Herr Zhuravlyov does not let the propaganda background sink his artistic intentions, certainly a task-given the times-that may have been more difficult than actually sending someone to the moon.

Obviously the political background can't be ignored in the film, so there are many communist references in it, the most significant being that the spacecraft that finally lands on the moon is called "Josef Stalin" and of course there is the film's message about the power and accomplishment of technical research in the U.S.S.R. but this is acceptable in terms of the story.

The art direction and space imagery of the film is certainly astounding, including beautiful and imaginative décors and models, suggesting these supposedly futuristic times of the, Ahem… mid 40's of the last century. Especially remarkable is the travelling effect wherein the two U.S.R.R. spacecrafts are shown in detail in the hangar and of course the moon décors, showing a mysterious and deserted planet reminiscent of l Herr Méliès .

The cosmonauts will have an extra and dangerous mission trying to send a radio message to the Earth ( well… it is more correct to say U.S.R.R. ) in order to let them known that finally the spacecraft has landed. There is also a big problem with the oxygen tank but there is a light side too as we see the cosmonauts walking on the moon (via animation), a sequence that gives the film an air of charming fantasy.

"Komicheskiy Reys…" is a very imaginative oeuvre, a remarkable picture full of fantasy and imaginative technical resources, an excellent example of the space race between cinematographers.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must moon around as usual.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com

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