The King of Bernina (1929)

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German title The King of Bernina
Original title Eternal love
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1929
length approx. 72 minutes
Director Ernst Lubitsch
script Hanns Kräly based
on the novel of the same name (1900) by Jakob Christoph Heer
production Joseph Schenck
for Feature Productions, on behalf of Joseph M. Schenck Production
music Hugo Riesenfeld
camera Oliver T. Marsh
Charles Rosher
cut Andrew Marton

The King of Bernina is an American silent film drama from 1929 by Ernst Lubitsch . John Barrymore and Camilla Horn play tragic lovers.


The setting is the Swiss Alps around Pontresina in 1806, when Napoleon Bonaparte also militarily threatened the nearby Austria. Marcus Paltram is a daring as well as spirited devil guy. He and the shy, gentle Ciglia are united by a deep, passionate love. Regrettably, Marcus likes to reach for a bottle, and when he is drunk again at a big party where people dance in masked form, it comes as it should: he cheats on Ciglia with the not-so-well-behaved Pia, a very demanding, young woman and spirited woman. Driven by her unscrupulous and deluded mother, Pia tries to expose Marcus in public if he does not marry her. The next day the village pastor Tass, the uncle Ciglias, gives her permission to marry Marcus. But she finds out about Marcus' affair and separates from him deeply disappointed. With a broken heart she turns to the younger Lorenz Gruber, who has adored her for some time.

Both couples get married, but neither of them will be happy. When a snow storm approaches, Marcus is somewhere in the great outdoors. Pia asks the villagers to help her set up a search party, but nobody lifts a finger. So she turns to Ciglia, who is immediately excited. This reaction arouses some concern in her husband Lorenz. He realizes that his wife still loves Marcus. The jealousy boils up in him. When Marcus returns safely to the village, he offers him a bag of gold in order to finally get rid of the annoying competitor once and for all, should he leave the area forever. But Marcus rejects the attempt at bribery, and so Lorenz uses much more brutal means by shooting him. In the exchange of fire that Marcus returned, Lorenz was so badly injured that he died a little later. Now the villagers even accuse him of murder, although Ciglia protests his innocence. The sly Pia then claims that Ciglia must have instigated Marcus to do so. The villagers band together and chase the couple out of town. Marcus and Ciglia only find refuge high up in the mountains. There both are caught by an avalanche in the dramatic finale and buried. Ciglia and Marcus are only united in death.

Production notes

The King of Bernina is based on the novel of the same name by the Swiss writer Jakob Christoph Heer . The main character Markus Paltram shows features of Gian Marchet Colani .

The King of the Bernina was created from the end of 1928 until the first days of January 1929 at Lake Louise in Canada's Banff National Park under the working title “ King of the Mountain ”. The US premiere took place on May 11, 1929. The film opened earlier in Germany: on April 25, 1929, in Denmark even on April 22 of the same year. In Austria, from February 28, 1930, the strip was also sold under the title “ Die Avalanche ”.

The buildings were designed by the German Walter Reimann . Composer Hugo Riesenfeld also took care of the music arrangements.

The film is considered one of Lubitsch's weakest works and is also his last silent film. The King of Bernina also marked the end of years of collaboration with his screenwriter Hanns Kräly . The same story was remade by Alfred Lehner in 1957 under the same German title . The two contents are not completely identical.

The film was released on DVD on April 24, 2001.


In the New York Times , star critic Mordaunt Hall dealt with the Lubitsch film. There it said on May 13, 1929: “Although the portrayal is capable and an intelligent direction can be identified, with excellent landscape effects and locations, the story does not move you that much, which is probably due to the fact that the screenplay seems too sketchy. (...) During those moments when he shows Marcus' drunkenness, Mr. Barrymore is excellent. However, he has a tendency to be too melodramatic most of the time. Miss Horn is charming in a charming way, despite a touch too much mascara on her eyes. Mr Varconi's work is unequal and he fails to create the mood that is expected. Mona Rico does her job as Pia well. Her mother is played by Evelyn Selbic, whose activities make one wonder why the villagers allow her to continue living in the community. But Mr. Lubitsch's alpine scenery is realistic. It makes for a lot of snow and gives a really impressive idea of ​​an avalanche in the final scenes. "

Paimann's film lists summed up: "A subject that has little correlation with the milieu in terms of its motifs, but masterful detail work, including in the staging. The representation is excellent, but Barrymore's performance is somewhat affected by tenor allures. Buildings and scenery are in America was badly hit, the photography is also clean. Overall qualification: above average. "

Halliwell's Film Guide characterized the film as follows: "Thin Romeo and Juliet stuff that the star was too old for".

Individual evidence

  1. ^ German premiere on
  2. Eternal Love in the New York Times
  3. ^ In the original: “Although it is capably acted and intelligently directed, with excellent scenic effects and settings, the story is not especially moving, which appears to be partly due to the sketchiness of the script. (...) During those moments when he portrays Marcus's inebriated state, Mr. Barrymore is excellent. He, however, has a tendency to be too melodramatic most of the time. Miss Horn is charmingly sympathetic, despite a touch too much of mascaro on her eyes. Mr. Varconi's work is uneven and he fails to depict the mood expected. Mona Rico does well as the designing Pia. Her mother is played by Evelyn Selbic, whose actions cause one to wonder why the village residents permitted her to remain in the community. But Mr. Lubitsch's Alpine scenes are realistic. He makes the most of the snow and gives a reasonably impressive conception of an avalanche during the closing stretches. "
  4. The King of Bernina / The Avalanche in Paimann's film lists ( Memento of the original from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ Leslie Halliwell : Halliwell's Film Guide, Seventh Edition, New York 1989, p. 321.
  6. In the original: "Thin Romeo and Juliet stuff for which the star was too old."

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