A poor and lonely charburner (Franz Schnyder as Peter Munk) trades his heart to a demon of the forest (Stefan Schnabel), hoping to improve his condition… Shot in the early 1930s by renowned pianist Karl Ulrich Schnabel and finished in 2016 with a enthralling soundtrack by Robert Israel, this spellbinding silent film is a fascinating accomplishment, starring Swiss director Franz Schnyder and Stefan Schnabel.
About the project
„The Cold Heart“ is based on a famous German legend. Its main characters derive from the traditional handcrafts of the Black Forest, the charburners, gaffers and raftsmen, and the rivalry of them.
„Filmed in 1931–33 by the young piano teacher Karl Ulrich Schnabel, ‚The Cold Heart‘ is a curiosity, a long-unfinished film that remained hidden for years until the reels were found and restored by Raff Fluri. In this morality tale set largely in the forests and villages of the Black Forest, the protagonist, Peter Munk (played by young Swiss filmmaker Franz Schnyder), encounters challenges that test his soul along his magical journey. A creative exploration of film form that uses superimpositions, stop motion, and on-screen text, Schnabel’s work has an aesthetic affinity with the psychodramas of avant-garde filmmakers such as Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, and Stan Brakhage.“
Susan Oxtoby, bampfa.org
Renowned pianist Karl Ulrich Schnabel produced this fantasy film using his own, modest means but with the support of his friends and family in the surroundings of Berlin.
Due to the political development in Germany the film could not be completed until 2009, when Swiss filmmaker Raff Fluri became aware of the project in connection with its leading actor Franz Schnyder.
In 2016, about 83 years later, the film could finally be finished. The present restored version is based on the unique but shortened 16 mm print.
A version as faithful as possible to the original, based on the director’s notes and supplemented with work material and cut scenes, has been recreated. A few intertitles have been added for better understanding.
No evidence of a planned soundtrack was found in the director’s notes. Acclaimed composer Robert Israel, who knew Schnabel’s musical work well, composed the soundtrack to his best knowledge and after extensive research..
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