Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Originally released in 1926 in hand-tinted prints, for years this silent classic, based on the novel by Luigi Pirandello (1867-1937) was only available in low-quality and incomplete black-and-white prints. It was restored by the Cinémathèque Française and was re-released in 1990. Pirandello's novels and plays were all the rage among the avant garde thinkers of his day: of them, perhaps the best known today is Six Characters In Search Of An Author. In 1934, Pirandello won the Nobel prize for literature. This film stars the legendary (and legendarily difficult) Ivan Mosjoukine as Mathias Pascal. In the story, Pascal is a timid man, and has lived a very constricted life in the midst of a claustrophia-inducing family. When, as a result of his being in an accident, his family believes that he has died, Pascal decides to let them continue to believe it. He has just won some money at roulette, and he can manage quite nicely on that. At first he is overjoyed by his newfound freedom. However, he soon discovers a serious drawback in being an identityless person when he falls in love with the daughter of his landlord in Rome, but has no documents which will permit him to marry her. This film, in addition to being considered a classic, also marks the first onscreen appearance of the extraordinary Swiss actor Michel Simon, as Pascal's best friend Jerome.
High Artistic Quality