In Nerven, writer-director-producer Robert Reinert tried to capture the "nervous epidemic" caused by war and misery which "drives people mad". This unique portrait of the life in 1919 Germany, filmed on location in Munich, describes the cases of different people from all levels of society: Factory owner Roloff who looses his mind in view of catastrophies and social disturbances, teacher John who is the hero of the masses and Marja who turns into a radical revolutionary. Using different fragments the Munich Film Museum could reconstruct this forgotten German classic which is a historic document and anticipates already elements of the Expressionist cinema of the 1920s.
About the film
Having a more complete version of Nerven available is a wonderful contribution to our understanding of film history. The standard version was known to very few students of cinema, and though it was impressive, it was somewhat incoherent. We are still lacking a lot of footage, but Stefan Droessler and his team have added what they could and arranged the sequences into a more intelligible order. The quality of the restoration, moreover, makes the film's visual style even more vivid and unsettling.
Released shortly before The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nerven ought to have entered the Expressionist canon. Its themes echo the movement's post-Romantic attack on capitalism and the modern conception of the anguished soul. Its narrative plays out the implications of such icons of Expressionist art as convulsive crowds and men's homicidal urges toward women. Just as important, the film's pictorial design finds an original way to convey the tale's emotional tenor, the sense of nervous anxiety strung ever tighter. Significantly, Reinert achieves a unique look without recourse to the painted sets of Caligari, but through a unique use of other cinematic resources.
Nerven / Nerves - Germany 1919 - Directed and written by: Robert Reinert - Photography by: Helmar Lerski - Cast: Eduard von Winterstein, Lya Borée, Erna Morena, Paul Bender, Lili Dominici, Rio Ellbon - Produced by: Monumentalfilm Robert Reinert, Munich - Première: December 1919, Kammer-Lichtspiele Munich - 2008 Reconstruction by: Munich Film Museum - Edited by: Stefan Drössler - Mastering and composing: Hartmut Böhme, Christian Ketels - Music by: Joachim Bärenz - Sound recorded by: Gunther Bittmann, Ernst Schillert
- Nerven 1919, 110'
- Chapter selection
- Piano score by Joachim Bärenz
- Side-by-side comparison of the different fragments: Marja's wedding preparations 5'
- Side-by-side comparison of the different fragments: At the nerve specialist's 8'
- Side-by-side comparison of the different fragments: Roloff's paranoia 6'
- Bilder von der Volksbewegung in München 1919, 3'
- München im Zeichen der Räterepublik 1919, 11'
- Posters, stills and lobby cards
- Booklet with essays by Jan-Christopher Horak, Stefan Drössler and David Bordwell
Herausgeber: Filmmuseum München, Goethe-Institut München
DVD-Authoring: Ralph Schermbach
DVD-Supervision: Stefan Drössler
First edition July 2008, Second edition June 2009