Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Filmed in 1924 by the brilliant Danish director Carl Theodore Dreyer, the German drama Michael (Mikael) was released in the U.S. three years later under the more lurid title Chained. It was subsequently reissued as The Story of the Third Sex, an unsubtle allusion to the plotline's homosexual subtext. Fellow director Benjamin Christensen stars as "The Master," a world-renowned painter. Celebrated for his portrait of a "beautiful" young male art student named Mikael (played by a slim, 22-year-old Walter Slezak), the Master graciously accepts the plaudits of his acolytes. Inwardly, however, he is tormented by his strong, passionate feelings for Mikael. Ironically, both men have a falling out over the affections of a woman (Nora Gregor) -- and when The Master dies, Mikael is accused of his murder. It turns out that the old artist actually died of natural causes, but Mikael is condemned in the court of public opinion for turning his back on The Master during his last days on Earth. Astonishingly, Chained was dismissed as "junk" by the reviewer for the trade magazine Variety, who felt that the film would have been better if Michael had murdered The Master in actuality rather than symbolically.
artist, false-accusation, love-triangle, murder-trial, portrait