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03 August 2016

Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht (1915)

One of the most popular film stars of the German cinema in the 1910s and early 1920s was the American actress Fern Andra (1893-1974). She often co-directed and scripted her own films. A typical example is the melodrama Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915), produced by Kurt Matull Film and Fern Andra Atelier.

Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne Series, no. 523/1. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Publicity still for Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915) with Fern Andra.

Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne Series, no. 523/2. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Publicity still for Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915).

Fern Andra in Es Fiel Ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht (1915)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne Series, no. 523/3. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Publicity still for Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915).

A happy and harmonious marriage destroyed


In Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915), Fern Andra plays the wife of bank director Balten. She has a happy and harmonious marriage with her husband, crowned by their son.

Hans Berndt, a friend of her husband, disrupts this happy bond by clumsily courting her. When visiting the seaside with her son, Berndt is present as well and starts to annoy her with his declarations of love. Unluckily Balten witnesses one of those attempts and calls Berndt to a duel.

Balten is shot, and soon after he dies of a severe wound. Berndt, unaware of the death of his duelling adversary, visits Ms. Balten and asks to be pardoned for his bad behaviour lately. She leads him to the corpse of her husband and accuses him of destroying her happiness.

Shocked, Berndt commits suicide with a gun, but by an unfortunate course of events, Ms Balten is suspected of having killed him. She is trialed, but on the day of the ordeal Berndt's farewell letter is found in the garden. Ms. Balten is acquitted and finds in her lawyer, who so well defended her, a new love and happiness.

Es fiel ein Reif in der Frülingsnacht, scripted by Fern Andra herself, was a typical example of Andra's melodramas that were so beloved in Germany during the First World War. These melodramas were situated either in aristocratic circles or in the world of the circus.

The press show of the film took place at the Berlin Mozartsaal on 21 October 1915. From 29 October it was released for public showings.

Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 523/5 Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915).

Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht (1915)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 523/6. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915).

Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht (1915)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 523/7. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Fern Andra and Ferdinand Robert in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915).

Fern Andra in Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht (1915)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne Series, no. 523/8. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Publicity still for Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht/There was frost in the spring night (Fern Andra, Kurt Matull, 1915). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Two unhappy young lovers


The title of the film, Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht, refers to an old folk poem about two unhappy young lovers. It was noted by both Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) and Florentin von Zuccalmaglio (1803–1869). Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy composed a melody for the verse.

Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht.
Er fiel auf die zarten Blaublümelein,
sie sind verwelket, verdorret.

Es hatt‘ ein Knabe ein Mägdlein lieb,
sie wanderten heimlich von Hause fort,
es wußten‘s nicht Vater noch Mutter.

Sie sind gewandert wohl hin und her,
es hatten die beiden nicht Glück noch Stern;
sie sind verdorben, gestorben.

Auf ihrem Grabe Blaublümelein blühn,
umschlingen sich innig wie diese im Grab;
der Reif sie nicht welket, nicht dörret.


TMC Chamber Singers sing Es fiel ein Reif from Drei Volkslieder, Op. 41, No. 2-4. Source: eRobb5 (YouTube).

Sources: Deutsche Lieder. Bamberger Anthologie (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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