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Berlinale Classics 2024: Silent Film Classic Kohlhiesel’s Daughters by Ernst Lubitsch in the World Premiere of the 4K Restored Version

Henny Porten and Emil Jannings in Kohlhiesel’’s Daughters by Ernst Lubitsch
Henny Porten and Emil Jannings in Kohlhiesel’’s Daughters by Ernst Lubitsch

On February 18, 2024, Berlinale Classics will present the world premiere of the 4K digital restoration of the silent film classic Kohlhiesel’s Daughters (director: Ernst Lubitsch, GER 1920). The restoration was done by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation and the screening at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) will be accompanied by a new score by Leopold Hurt, performed live by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Simon Rössler.

Rainer Rother, Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek and head of the Retrospective section, says “In this farce, based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Henny Porten is brilliant in a double role, the first time she worked with director Ernst Lubitsch. Kohlhiesel’s Daughters premiered in March 1920 and became a huge box-office hit. The film was the most popular of all those that Lubitsch made in Germany”.

The new score by Leopold Hurt was commissioned by ZDF/Arte. Leopold Hurt is one of the most versatile German composers of his generation, definitely a modernist, yet very adept at dealing with historical material and techniques. So it is no surprise that he has engaged with the silent film medium – including in cooperation with the electronic music duo Gebrüder Teichmann. For the Kohlhiesel’s Daughters score, he decided to use a purely acoustic line-up of twelve instruments (string quintet, percussion, piano, and five wind instruments), a classic silent film orchestration that afforded him a variety of ways to musically annotate Lubitsch’s anti-emancipation comedy.

After its premiere in 1920, Kohlhiesel’s Daughters underwent a slight re-edit in order to get around the youth suitability guidelines of the Berlin film censors. The original negative of the film has not survived. The 2023 digital restoration in 4K by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation used a combination of three nitrate prints from the Danish Film Institute and the German Federal Archives. The original editing sequence and tinting were re-constructed using reference prints. The digital restoration was made possible by the FFE Film Legacy Subsidy Programme and the generous support of Bertelsmann.

“We are delighted to continue the longstanding collaboration with Deutsche Kinemathek, the Berliner Philharmoniker, and ZDF/Arte for a silent film and music highlight. We are looking forward to enjoying the talent of the great Ernst Lubitsch with a brand-new score. A perfect example of the slapstick style that Lubitsch shaped in the first years of his career, Kohlhiesel’s Daughters is a film that casts a much-needed special lightness into our dark actual life”, say Berlinale directors Mariëtte Rissenbeek und Carlo Chatrian.

The world premiere of the 4K digitally restored version of Kohlhiesel’s Daughters is a cooperative venture between the Berlin International Film Festival, the Deutsche Kinemathek, the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, and public broadcasters ZDF/ARTE. The film’s television premiere will be on Arte in May 2024.

Kohlhiesel’s Daughters
Ernst Lubitsch, Germany, 1920
World premiere of the digitally restored version (DCP 4K)

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