The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna

Brigitte Helm is still a robot The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna is a 1929 Brigitte Helm film, which has a very very similar plot to Camille (except without tuberculosis).

Brigitte Helm is a fun actress. She is best known for her performance as the robot in Metropolis, as well as a number of G.W. Pabst films, and the notable 1928 film L’argent, where she played a seductress who acted an awful lot like the robot in Metropolis. She has a very physical acting style, which makes good use of her long body. Though this film was more restrained than L’argent and Metropolis, there are a few scenes where she bends backwards over furniture while backing away in a passionate argument (see picture). Her passionate glares seem to encompass her whole body, like she can barely restrain herself.

Her lover is played by Francis Lederer, a Czech actor who went on to have a long career in Hollywood. He was straight forward adorable in the film, and really the best sequence was when Helm was trying to seduce him, and he, despite coming to her house at 2 in the morning, wouldn’t get the hint. They slept in separate beds, had breakfast on the floor in the morning, and tragedy ensued.

The melodrama of the story is a bit unbearable at points. But the story was clearly one that talented female actresses enjoyed, as it requires a wide range of emotions, sometimes at the same time. Well worth a view for the acting alone.

(This film played on second day of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.)

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