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There's a strong bird motif set up early in The Blue Angel - birds in a cage stop singing and die, and all that - but the twist is that Marlene Dietrich's burlesque singer isn't the bird in question. Rather, it's the stuffy moralistic professor who falls for her. As we track his degradation and loss of dignity, he will be forced to play the chicken for the cabaret players as well. Dietrich's character is mercurial and cruel, and perhaps a little unknowable. We're squarely with Emil Jannings' Professor Rath, but he's not necessarily sympathetic. Only in the way that fools are. What's the message? That show folk are a dangerous lot? That the women you are warned away from really are a menace to morals, enlightenment and the Patriarchy? Or should we go deeper to see Rath's foolishness for what it is - hubris. The Blue Angel is a tragedy in the classical sense where one man's self-importance, perhaps his notion that he can "save" the woman he loves, or that he can resist the corruptive influence of the world she lives in, is what draws him into the abyss. You can tell this is an early sound film because it tries to use sound to it advantage. I don't think the musical numbers are well served by the recording technology of the day, but the demented bird cries of the climax are well worth it.
It was good to see a very old movie with this kind of quality.
But you should be in the correct mood to see this. Take your time.
Reminded me of Der Letzte Mann a bit. Tragic but powerful.
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