The silent movie "The Loves of Pharao" (1921) was German filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch´s early international success. After its premiere, however, it was soon shelved in the archives and forgotten over decades. Alpha-Omega digital have painstakingly restored the film over the last years, and msm-studios have been commissioned for the authoring of the DVD and Blu-ray.
"The Loves of Pharao" were authored on Blu-ray as well as PAL and NTSC DVD. The film has been equipped with a full regalia of 10 language versions. The insert titles are in this case not subtitles but fullscreen titles just as it was common practice for language versions during the silent movie era. The experienced authoring department at msm-studios again developed a technically appropriate solution – just as on previous projects e.g. for the Mercedes Benz´ Signature Sound project, or the in-house development Pure Audio Blu-ray.
The film itself was a gigantic undertaking in 1921 – with hundreds of extras and a temple scenery in original size. Lubitsch had a full Egyptian city plus a massive Sphinx built in the South of Berlin, which grandly simulated the ancient Egypt in the film. The American premiere of the film in New York on 22 February 1922 was finally Lubitsch´s ticket to Hollywood. However, soon after the first success, the opus got forgotten and shelved in various archives in several fragmented parts. Over the decades only three original reels survived, which have now been re-collected partially from Italy and Russia for this digital restoration.
With complicated technical effort and meticulous manual retouching, a quality was achieved from the existent but totally damaged reels, which comes very close to the originals. Furthermore, the particular technique of tinting, the colouring of whole scenes as a dramaturgical support, was reconstructed so that the movie can be shown to the present-day audience just as Lubitsch intended it.
The restoration was accomplished by Alpha-Omega in a very precise manner. Already in 2001, Alpha-Omega were responsible for the high resolution restoration of Fritz Lang´s classic "Metropolis". The resulting film negatives were then admitted as world heritage "Memory of the World" by the UNESCO. But also for "The Loves of Pharao" no compromises were made, and also the orginal music got re-recorded by the WDR Rundfunkorchester Cologne on the basis of the orginal scores by Eduard Künneke. Also the Filmmuseum Munich, the Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv as well as the George Eastman house have been involved in the restoration process.
(C) msm-studios & Thomas Bakels