Lubitsch in Berlin

film 2 of 5

The Doll

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 26, 2015

As stylized as Caligari, but playing so much more straightforwardly, and effectively. That may be due to the fact that expressionism, or at least Robert Wiene’s version of it, is finally kind of hysterical, and even unhealthy. The conventions of the commedia dell’arte are artificial too, but it’s an ancient and accessible artificiality. Anyway, The Doll provides a healthy balance to the valuable and partial views of Weimar cinema left by Siegried Kracauer (1947)and Lotte Eisner (1952, Eng. trans. 1969). Anxiety yes, but there will always be merry hearts.

Brand though he may have become, Lubitsch really is that unique, that effervescent and confident. His vaunted sauciness, the over-cited and under-defined “touch” are part of the picture, but what finally registers (cf. Peter Bogdanovich’s tribute in the introduction to his Who the Devil Made It? [1997]) is how healthily unconflicted the guy is about matters of the heart, and of the flesh, and of the heart and flesh together. Bracing!