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"Maedchen in Uniform", foreign film sensation of the year is again in Boston, this time at the Fine Arts Theatre. If you are lucky enough to have seen it once, a second time is well worth-while; if you missed it in the fall, now is the time to see it.
The picture is something of a monotone because it uses the German institution for the education of Prussian army officers' daughters as the only background for the whole film. With the faithfulness of attention to detail which characterizes German cinema production. "Maedchen in Uniform" is alive with genuine emotion and a well-defined and exacting plot structure. There are many touches of the theatre from the entrance of the orphan Manuela into the school to the closing scene in which Fraulein von Beruburg is chosen spontaneously as the natural leader by the acclaim of the children for the understanding and gentleness, while the sternold principal, who has insisted on stifling Prussian discipline, realizes her mistaken methods and totters down the whitewashed stairs on her walking stick.
Manuela is convinced that she cannot be happy in the barrack like institution, and although she is recognized by the girls as a leader, she cannot accustom herself to wearing the sack-like uniform and striped tie, to putting her hair into a knot, and to going through the routine of eating, praying, sleeping, and studying like a hundred other pupils.
The main dramatic element in the film centers around a playlet which the students give. Manuela has been touched by the friendly sympathy of Fraulein von Bernburg, and after her successful performance, excited by too much strong punch, she makes a scene by shouting her gratitude and love for the teacher. Unfortunately the principal overhears the speech and Manuela is sentenced to solitary confinement. A narrowly avoided suicide brings the story to a happy conclusion.
Every character that appears on the screen is female, but the play does not suffer; Hertha Thiele interprets the part of Manuela with great talent and understanding, and the principal, Emilia Unda, brings a terrorizing sincerity to the role. Dorothea Wieck, who enacts the part of the friendly Fraulein von Bernburg, which appeals to every one in the audience, shows a fearless idealism.
The photography is beyond reproach and draws the story into a closely integrated film. The use of the camera gives a like-like sequence to the picture which adds greatly to its dramatic force. Although "Maedchen", is a very satisfying production, even for the person who must depend largely on the English titles to understand the dialogue, the enjoyment of the spectators is much enhanced by a knowledge of German.
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