Directed by: Eugen Illés
Scenario: Hans Brennert
Pictures: Eugen Illés
Set design: Paul Leni
Production: Projektions-AG Union,
Germany, 1918
Premiered: 8.11.1918, in Berlin

Cast: Pola Negri (Mania Walkowska, a cigarette factory worker), Werner Hollmann (Morelli, an art patron), Arthur Schröder (Hans van den Hof, a composer),  Ernst Wendt (Heinz Alex, a painter)

Duration: 85 min

The plot:

A moving history of the great love of Mania Walkowska, a cigarette factory worker, to a talented composer, Hans. Mania was chosen as a model for an advertisement poster of a new cigarette brand. At Alex’s studio (he’s the painter of the poster), she meets a young composer, Hans van den Hof. They fall in love with each other. Meanwhile, Morelli, a rich and influential art patron, intrigued by the beauty of the poster girl, throws a great ball to which he invites Mania. He tries hard to court her, but to no avail. Mania inspires Hans to write an opera, to be staged at an opera house in Berlin. Jealous Morelli, one of the shareholders of the National Opera House, uses his influence, and Hans's work, entitled Mania, is rejected. The girl tries to convince Morelli to help Hans. Morelli agrees on the condition that she shares his house and bed until the opening night. The opera house director, Dreyer, agrees to stage Hans’s opera. The composer changes the title of his work to Tarantella. On the opening night, Mania and Morelli take their seats in the box of honour. During the intermission, Mania meets Hans and tries to convince him that she still loves him and that her affair with Morelli was only meant to help Hans stage his opera. The composer will not listen to her. Mania, being desperate, locks a dancer in a dressing room and takes her place on the stage...

“Mania. The history of a cigarette factory worker” is one of the first foreign movies in the rich portfolio of the Polish actress Pola Negri. The superstar-to-be stared in it as a twenty something year old, barely at the start of her great career. Already she charmed the audience with her exotic beauty, pretty eyes, supple body, expressiveness and unique personality. 'Mania’ was an international collaboration produced at a time when the silent film industry crossed national boundaries and language barriers. Lively plot, absorbing acting performance, interesting camera work and sophisticated set designs by Paul Leni, a renowned expressionist movie-maker, are the artistic qualities of the movie.

For many years the film was considered to be irretrievably lost. In 2006 Filmoteka Narodowa (National Film Archive) purchased a copy of the movie from a Czech collector and then a fully reconstructed version was prepared under the project "Conservation and digitalisation of pre-war feature films at the National Film Archive in Warsaw" co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund, Priority XI 'Culture and Cultural Heritage', within the framework of the Operational Programme - Infrastructure and Environment. Thanks to the efforts made by Filmoteka Narodowa, “Mania” was in a way brought back to life.


The press on the movie:

In Kammerlichtspiele cinema, a new movie drama “Mania” (from the Pola Nergi series) has proved a remarkable success. Both the details and the movie as a whole show fine taste and skills of all the people involved in the production. A story of a cigarette factory worker, as it unfolds towards most dramatic events, could just as well happen in real life (…)

Der Film, no. 45, 19.11.1918

About the director:

Eugen Illés [real name Jenö Illés] (born on the 28th January 1877 in Debreczyn, Hungary, died on the 17th October 1951 in Budapest). He was a camera operator, a director and a writer. He studied sciences, music and classical philosophy. In 1905 he moved to Germany. He initially worked as a journalist for the Berliner Tageblatt magazine, later he embraced the cinematic art and in 1911 he became the head of the Berlin branch of Pathé. In 1912 he started his cooperation with the Duskes GmbH company in Berlin, where he worked as a camera operator and a director. He directed two films with Pola Negri: “Mania” and “Der Gelbe Schein” (“The Yellow Ticket”, 1918). His works include nearly thirty films from the silent movie era. In 1927 he settled back in Hungary.



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