The Eternal Mask (1937)

Genres - Drama, Fantasy  |   Run Time - 74 min.  |   Countries - Switzerland  |  
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Filmed in German by a Swiss production firm, The Eternal Mask (Die Ewige Maske) was adapted by Leo Lapaire from his own novel. Mathias Weimann plays an idealistic doctor who believes he has discovered a cure for meningitis. Ordered not to experiment with this serum, Weimann does so anyway, utilizing the supposed wonder drug on a terminal patient. When the man dies, Weimann is reprimanded by his superiors, and wanders out of the hospital, believing himself a failure. His depression deepens into delirium, and soon the doctor is wandering through a Caligariesque world of distorted shapes and distended shadows, where he finds it impossible to separate illusion from reality. Meanwhile, Weimann's superiors determine that the meningitis serum is indeed effective; now they must snap the doctor out of his nightmare in order for him to reveal the formula. One of the very few successful attempts to convey madness on screen, The Eternal Mask has been surprisingly overlooked by many otherwise thorough reference books on horror films. Perhaps some scholars have been put off by the lethargic pace of the film, which seems to go on far longer than its 74 minutes.

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Keywords

cure, depression, doctor, madness, medical-treatment, meningitis, psychosis, serum