Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Retrospective

The Queen of Spades

Pique Dame

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In 1815 St. Petersburg, the poor but ambitious Captain Herman Suvorin stumbles across the story of Countess R., who made her fortune playing cards, but had to sell her soul to do it. By feigning love for Lizaveta, he enlists her help to get access to Countess Ranevskaya’s bedchamber. He is determined to pry the secret of the cards from the countess, by force if necessary … The film is a late, old-fashioned successor to silent horror classics such as Der Student von Prag (1926). Czech cinematographer Otto Heller (Das Kabinett des Dr. Larifari, 1930), who worked in Berlin from 1928 to 1935, used angular camerawork to create a surreal atmosphere, with Anton Walbrook appearing demonic amid a host of shadows, reflections and cobwebs. The apogee is a harrowing nightmare sequence, in which the forces of nature take on a life of their own. Based on a short story by Alexander Pushkin, Martin Scorsese said of THE QUEEN OF SPADES in 2010, “This stunning film is one of the few real classics of supernatural cinema. And it’s also a uniquely haunting film”

United Kingdom 1949, 94 min

by

Thorold Dickinson

with

Anton Walbrook
Edith Evans
Yvonne Mitchell
Ronald Howard