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Essays

Rosa Porten

Förster, Annette

Rosa Porten’s work as a screenwriter, an actress, and a film director has been practically neglected in film history, but what she accomplished in the German silent cinema is truly noteworthy. In a two-decade career, from 1906 until 1928, she created a cinematic oeuvre that was substantial, original, versatile, and entertaining. The exact number of films to which Rosa Porten contributed is uncertain, but historical substantiation points to around forty titles. Between 1916 and 1919 alone, she wrote and co-directed at least twenty-four catching comedies and gripping social dramas and in most of them she played the protagonist. Even more notable in retrospect is that Porten’s stories often privileged the perspective of a female character who, with non-conformist pragmatism or jokey recalcitrance, seizes her chance to defy bourgeois conventions and role patterns. In the trade press, the comedies were often praised: 1e Internationale Film-Zeitung highlighted the “überschäumende Komik” [scintillating jocoseness] of Die Film-Kathi (1918) (1918, 47); Der Kinematograph noted the “herzerfrischenden” [heart-freshening] humor in Die Erzkokette (1917) (1917, n.p.); both Der Film and 1e Internationale Film-Zeitung noticed the serious undertones in Der Neueste Stern vom Varieté (1917) and Das Musikantenmädel (1918) respectively (1917, 57; 1918, 58).

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Academic Units
Film
Libraries
Series
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
October 15, 2019