About the Film

About the Film
Restoration Case Study
DVD & BluRay

DAS WEIB DES PHARAO (The Loves of Pharaoh)
Production Company: Ernst Lubitsch-Film GmbH, for Europäische Film-Allianz GmbH, Germany
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Writers: Norbert Falk, Hanns Kräly
Music: Eduard Künneke
Cinematography: Theodor Sparkuhl, Alfred Hansen
Art Direction: Ernst Stern, Kurt Richter
Costums: Ernst Stern, Ali Hubert, Ernö Metzner
Emil Jannings (Amenes, the Pharaoh of Egypt)
Dagny Servaes (Theonis, a Greek slave)
Harry Liedtke (Ramphis, son of Sothis)
Paul Wegener (Samlak, King of Ethiopia)
Lyda Salmonova (Makeda, his daughter)
Paul Biensfeldt (Menon, the Pharaoh’s Governor)
Friedrich Kühne (High Priest)
Albert Bassermann (Sothis, the Pharaoh’s architect)
Premiere: 21.2.1922 (Criterion, New York), 14.3.1922 (Ufa-Palast am Zoo, Berlin)
Film Length: 2,246 m (2011 restored version) - Format: 35mm - 1.33:1 - Color: B&W (tinted)

The Ethiopian King Samlak offers his daughter Makeda to the powerful Pharaoh Amenes in order to secure peace between the two countries. What was intended as a political move ends as a debacle. Instead of Makeda, Amenes chooses Samlak’s beautiful slave girl Theonis. Nevertheless, Amenes can not secure the love of Theonis as she is in love with the young Egyptian Ramphis. Having suffered humiliation, the Ethiopians declare war on Egypt. Amenes is injured in a battle and perishes – but only seemingly. The happy union between Theonis and Ramphis is in peril when Pharaoh Amenes returns to claim his wife and his throne.

Stills from the Film

Alterations to the original German version in the Russian, Italian and US release versions
Peculiar alterations were made to the original German version in the Russian, Italian and US release versions: The Russian version shows the Pharaoh as a tyrannical ruler; harsh and despotic. The Italian version, on the other hand, emphasizes the love-stricken, vulnerable Pharaoh.

In the US release version the film ends with Ramphis’ rise to power and the happy union between him and Theonis. The return of the Pharaoh and the subsequent tragedy is omitted in favor of a happy end to satisfy the expectations of the US audiences.

The Stars

*29.01.1892, Berlin; ; †30.11.1947, Los Angeles

Ernst Lubitsch began his career as a bit-player in 1911 at Max Reinhardt’s German Theater. His first film role was in Carl Wilhelm’s comedy Der Stolz der Firma (1914, The Pride of the Firm). In 1914 Lubitsch also directed his first film Fräulein Seifenschaum (Miss Soapsuds). Lubitsch began his collaboration with Pola Negri and Emil Jannings with Die Augen der Mumie Ma (1918, Eyes of the Mummy Ma), notable for its high production values. In the same year Lubitsch made his first historical drama Madame DuBarry, a subject which he continues with Sumurun, Anna Boleyn und The Loves Of Pharao. In 1923 Lubitsch moved to the USA where he made 5 films for Warner Brothers, including The Marriage Circle and Lady Windermere’s Fan. The ‘Lubitsch-Touch’ continued to developed as the director worked under a contract for Paramount from 1928 onwards. Lubitsch’s former star, Emil Jannings, starred in a main role in his first Paramount film The Patriot. Film operettas followed such as the The Love Parade, Monte Carlo and The Smiling Lieutenant.
In January 1935 the NS-Government stripped Lubitsch of his German nationality. In the following years Lubistch made his most well-known films, such as Angel with Marlene Dietrich (1937), Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife with Claudette Colbert (1938), Ninotchka with Greta Garbo (1939) and To Be Or Not To Be (1942). For Twentieth Century Fox he directed Heaven Can Wait. Lubitsch received a special Academy Awards Oscar in 1947 “for his distinguished contributions to the art of motion picture”. He was not able to complete his last film That Lady In Ermine, a task that Otto Preminger took on himself. Ernst Lubitsch died on the 30th November 1947 in Hollywood und rests at the Forrest Lawn cemetery.

*23.07.1884 Rorschach/CH; †02.01.1950 Strobl am Wolfgangsee
Jannings signed a contract with the German Theater in 1915 and distinguished himself as a character actor under the direction of Max Reinhardt. Jannings’ great film career began in 1919. He starred opposite to Pola Negri in a number of historical dramas, often directed by Ernst Lubitsch; for example in Die Augen der Mumie Ma (Eyes of the Mummy Ma), and most importantly in Madame Dubarry.

Jannings stage roles, such as Othello, Tartuffe or Danton earned him much admiration. He was the first actor to receive an Oscar in 1929 for his role in the films The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command.

But with the transition from silent to sound film the taste of the audience changed rapidly and Jannings’ exalted style was considered old-fashioned. He returned to Germany as early as 1929 where he starred in Blue Angel alongside Marlene Dietrich. Jannings appeared in a number of films under the NS-Regime which resulted in a life-long acting ban after WWII. Jannings died in 1950 in Austria.

*12.10.1882 Königsberg; †28.04.1945 Bad Saarow-Pieskow

Liedtke’s encounter with Hans Oberländer, the director of the Royal Theater in Berlin, inspired him to take acting classes. Soon he enjoyed his first engagement at the Freiberg Theater. In 1912 Harry Liedtke had his first film role in Die Rache Ist Mein. From 1916 he appeared in Joe May’s detective adventure series Stuart Webbs and Joe Deebs.

Liedtke frequently collaborated with Lubitsch, most notably in; Das fidele Gefängnis (The Merry Jail, 1917), Die Augen der Mumie Ma (Eyes of the Mummy Ma, 1918), Carmen (1918), Die Austernprinzessin (My Lady Margarine, 1919), Madame Dubarry (1919), Sumurun (1920) and The Loves of Pharao.

*10.03.1894, Berlin; †10.07.1961, Vienna
The actress Dagny Servaes began her acting career in the mid 1910s with Stein unter Steinen (1916). Only 6 years later she played the main part in one of the biggest productions of the year The Loves Of Pharao and she was expected to become as famous as Pola Negri. In the 1920s Dagny Servaes could be seen in many notable production such as The Tales of Hoffmann (1923), Oberst Redl (1925) or The Weaver (1927). She remained popular after the introduction of sound and starred in numerous German and Austrian films until 1951.
* 11. 12 1874; † 13. 09 1948, Berlin

Paul Wegener is one of the biggest stars of the German Theater- and Filmhistory. He was one of the first established stage actors to seriously turn to the new filmic medium. With Der Student von Prag (The Student of Prague, 1913) and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem, 1920) Wegener accomplished milestones in the art of film. The actor enjoyed national and international fame and in 1928 he briefly worked in Hollywood. Paul Wegener was married 5 times, amongst others to Lyda Salmonova with whom he also co-starred in The Loves of Pharaoh. Paul Wegener died in Berlin in September 1948.

Making of Pharaoh

Unlike other German films of the time The Loves of Pharaoh was filmed outdoor on the outskirts of Berlin-Steglitz, an area known as ‘cragged mountains’. In real-size scales Lubitsch built a huge Egyptian palace, an ancient Egyptian city location and a gigantic Sphinx.

Also notable were the night scenes which were actually filmed in darkness. Lubitsch used extremely powerful floodlights, normally employed by the military. The thus achieved look for the night scenes was entirely new to the audiences. Some of the battle scenes between the Egyptians and Ethiopians were filmed from a balloon hovering above the set. Up to twelve cameras were used for the mass scenes for which Lubitsch employed thousands of extras and dozens of horses.

All in all, the film belongs to one of the biggest German productions of the silent era. In 1921 it was the most expensive film made to date; The film first premiered in New York on 21st February 1922 and then in Berlin at the Ufa-Palast on 14th March 1922.

Original Documents and Promotional Material

Excerpt from Lyda Salmonova's (Makeda) script. Makeda prepares for her reception at Pharaoh Amenes' palace. Salmonova's hand written note refers to her cosume: 'Red dress, no coat, no jewelry'

Original Posters

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 75

Glassplate Announcement of The Loves of Pharaoh

The Loves of Pharaoh Screen Review New York Times, 5th March 1922.

About the Film
Restoration Case Study
DVD & BluRay