A self-centred Pharaoh brings war to his people after falling in love with beautiful Greek slave girl Theonis, herself in love with young egyptian Ramphis and the property of the visiting Ethiopian King, in The Loves of Pharaoh (Das Weib des Pharao).
Showing as part of the 56th BFI London Film Festival, Ernst Lubitsch’s silent 1922 love story has been reassembled from surviving remnants in Russia and Italy.
The film’s restoration was a joint project undertaken by the Bundesarchiv (Berlin), the Munich Film Museum, and George Eastman House (USA) who used footage from a number of different sources to create the most complete version seen in eighty years.
Despite their exhaustive search for footage, some scenes sadly remain missing and have been substituted with caption cards and, where available, stills.
We’ve seen the film at an early press screening and can report that the inserts fit in pretty seamlessly – as a silent film the action is already broken up by caption cards so a few more do no harm.
The differing formats of the assembled footage require tolerance and understanding from the audience, but the effort is ultimately worthwhile.
An epic tale of love and tragedy, The Loves of Pharaoh is one of the Festival’s real gems and not to be missed.
Visit bfi.org.uk/lff for screening details and booking info.