Germany (1921)

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Music: Eduard Künneke

THE LOVES OF PHARAOH was the penultimate film Ernst Lubitsch shot in Germany and his last large-scale production. He hoped the work would finally win over Hollywood studios, as his future would lie in America. Shortly after its completion, the film had its New York premiere on February 22, 1922 and went down as a huge success.

With Emil Jannings in the title role as Pharaoh Amenes, the director had engaged one of the most famous male actors of the time. For the battle scenes in THE LOVES OF PHARAOH, Ernst Lubitsch directed an army of one thousand extras, and a dozen horses were employed. Some shots were filmed from a hot air balloon above.

The film was only available in black-and-white until the Federal Film Archive and the Munich Film Museum undertook a major initiative, engaging the company Alpha-Omega, which specializes in film processing, to effect a digital restoration. The work was based on two tinted nitrate copies from the Russian State Archive „Gosfilmofond“ and the George Eastman House in the USA Explanatory titles now complete missing parts of the plot; but most of all, the original colors, which augment the dramatic effect of the monumental film, have been restored. 

MUSIC: Ernst Lubitsch commissioned Eduard Künneke to write the original music for THE LOVES OF PHARAOH, who submitted a symphonic score that was well-tailored to the work. The music reveals not only the incredibly wide range of Künneke‘s compositional abilities but manages to clearly underscore the dramaturgy of the characters in the various plotlines of the film. Eduard Künneke’s score, which was largely acquired through the artist’s estate, serves as the model for a new orchestral recording that has been adapted to the restored frames of the film.

THE STORY: Ernst Lubitsch, in one of his last German-made films, creates a biting satire of authority transported to an oriental fantasy land. The Ethiopian King Samlak (Paul Wegener) offers the powerful Pharaoh Amenes (Emil Jannings) his daughter Makeda as bride in order to ensure peace between the countries. What is planned as a political maneuver ends in a love affair. The Pharaoh takes an interest not in Makeda but the beautiful slave Theonis, long in love with the young Egyptian Ramphis. The disappointed Samlak thereupon declares war to Amenes. The Pharaoh succumbs and appears to be dead, but not for long. And so the happiness of Theonis and Ramphis only lives for a short while...

INSTRUMENTATION: – – timp.2perc – hp – strings



The project was supported by ZDF/ARTE.

contact: Beate Warkentien

Phone +49 (0) 30 27890-194