The series of screenings of films by Sascha Kolowrat a.k.a. Der Kinograf met with acclaim

On the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the birth of the movie mogul and automobile racer Alexander “Sascha”, Count Kolowrat-Krakowsky, the Kolowrat-Krakowsky Family hosted a screening of three silent movies with live musical accompaniment. This met with great acclaim from the audience.

Being screened were the three most famous motion pictures from the Kolowrat production and distribution company, Sascha-Film. The first was on 12 September, The Moon of Israel – Die Sklavenkönigin (Královna otroků). The musical accompaniment was done by Vojtěch Procházka. This is one of the most expensive films in the history of Austrian cinema. The historical epic describes the flight of the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, the love of the Pharaoh’s son for a Jewish girl and the problems that came with it. American critique rated the technical and artistic superiority of the movie over and above that of American productions of the time. The scene showing the parting of the Red Sea was praised as the special effects pinnacle of its time. After watching this movie Jack Warner offer a contract to the film’s director, Michael Curtiz. A week later, the Lucerna cinema screened the film Café Elektric, with musical accompaniment by Beata Hlavenková. Café Elektric is a place where everyone meets. It is the venue for celebration, heartache, falling in love and breaking up, and the jazz band here plays ‘black bottom’. The air is full of cologne, perfumes, perspiration, dreams and smoke from cigars and cheap cigarettes. Maybe real life can be lived outside the walls of Café Elektric, or maybe not. Café Elektric is the last film by Sascha Kolowrat and the first big role for Marlene Dietrich. German censorship ordered some scenes to be cut, on the grounds that: “Both male and female viewers can easily be led to believe through viewing this spectacle that immoral conduct can bring immediate material and sexual benefits.”

The film evening series came to its close on 29 September with the film ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’. Musical accompaniment was provided by Messrs Tvrdý and Havelka. The young heroine unleashes a love pentangle involving a debauched financial mogul, his son, a perceptor priest and a besotted young artist. The story runs on three levels – the young woman's hopes and dreams, spectacular historical sequences, and orgiastic immediacy. Some 14,000 workers took part in the film production, described at the time as “a complete production frenzy”. Sascha Kolowrat and director Curtiz overran the original budget five-fold.

“Allow me, on behalf of my son Maximilian, daughter Francesca and myself to thank the Austrian Cultural Forum – Lady Sarah Polewski and Lady Ostrouchová, the Lucerna cinema – Miss Olga Raitoralová and the Austrian Film Archive for their cooperation in the preparation and screening of notable films produced by Count Sascha Kolowrat. My thanks go to Vojtěch Procházka, Beata Hlavenková and Messrs Havelka and Tvrdý for their musical accompaniment to the film screenings. Of course the greatest thanks go to Dr. Richard Pecha who gave us the idea to organize the three Sascha-Film movie nights at the Lucerna cinema. What’s more, with our help he was able to take this tremendous idea forward to make it happen. I would also like to thank him for his work of authorship, the book ‘Petrol & Celluloid’. Let me thank Babeta Ondrová for the book’s graphic design and Eva Pechová for the translation of documents and printed materials we collected from foreign archives and for translating the subtitles to the movies screened. I do believe that we have marked the 130th anniversary of the birth of Alexander, Count Kolowrat-Krakowsky with due dignity, be it with the aforementioned book ‘Petrol & Celluloid’, or the three unparalleled movie nights. Thank you all for sharing in the celebration of the anniversary of his birth with us,” said JUDr. Dominika Kolowrat-Krakowsky before the last of the screenings, in the large hall of the Lucerna cinema where the three screenings took place, to great acclaim from a sizeable audience.