Germany 1918, 92 min. | HD-s/w (virague)-restored version

When the dragoon José Navarro visits his mother and his bride in the countryside, he receives a message from his superior ordering him back to Seville. The reason: José is to be promoted. Full of joy, he sets off.

When he arrives in Seville, he meets the seductive gypsy Carmen, who works in a cigarette factory. When a fight breaks out among the workers in the factory, Carmen is arrested as the instigator. But the good-natured dragoon José succumbs to the beautiful woman's protestations of love and helps her to escape. As punishment, José, who has only recently been promoted, is demoted again and has to stand guard on the streets of the city as an ordinary soldier. Here he is once again beguiled by Carmen, who in reality only wants to distract him so that a gang of smugglers can pass undisturbed. When José kills an officer in a duel shortly afterwards, he joins Carmen's gang. Eventually she becomes the victim of José's jealousy: When the faithless gypsy turns to a bullfighter in Gibraltar, he stabs her with a dagger in front of the bullring.

The composer and pianist Tobias Schwencke (*1974) has been commissioned by ZDF in collaboration with Arte to write a new film score for ensemble for Carmen.

The premiere with ensembleKONTRASTE, conducted by Christoph Altstädt, is planned for 25 August 2021 as part of the Ufa Film Nights on the Museumsinsel/Kolonnadenhof in Berlin.


Film music for ensemble by Tobias Schwencke (2021)


1 Flut (Alto, also Basso), 1 Clarinet (Bb, also Alto Sax), 1 Trombone, 1 Trumpet, 1 Percussion, 1 Accordeon, 1 Harp, 1 Guitar/E-Guitar, 1 Violine, 1 Viola, 1 Double Base

Tobias Schwencke was born in Berlin and grew up in Duisburg. Studied in Duisburg, Saarbrücken and Berlin, where he has lived since 2001. His work includes free composition, music theatre, theatre music, pianistic activity; regular work at the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin, Berliner Ensemble, Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Productions under his musical direction and involvement include the Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real Madrid, Uppsala Stadstheater (S), HAU and Radialsystem and Deutsches Theater in Berlin; Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Theater Bremen, Staatstheater Wiesbaden and the Munich State Opera. Collaboration with Herbert Fritsch, Nurkan Erpulat, Claus Peymann, Manfred Karge, Anna Bergmann, Leander Haußmann, Frank Castorf, among others. Arrangements of musical works for experimental staging approaches ("sampled identity" Kampnagel Hamburg with Ensemble Resonanz and the Hip-Hop-Academy Hamburg 2012; "Winterreise" for Charly Hübner and Ensemble Resonanz 2018) to new concertante film music (live music for F.W. Murnau's "Faust", 1926, at the Salzburg Festival 2011). Premieres of his compositions are realised by Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern Akademie, KNM Berlin, Musikfabrik NRW, Gürzenich Orchester Köln and many others.

Pola Negri (1897-1987) came from the Polish town of Lipno in the Kujawy region. Negri, who grew up in Warsaw in petty bourgeois circumstances, initially began with ballet training, which she had to break off because she contracted tuberculosis. She switched to the Warsaw Drama School and made her debut as a theatre actress in 1913 in a play by Henrik Ibsen. Shortly after her debut, she received an engagement at the Polish National Theatre, of which she eventually became the star at just 17. In 1914, she landed a role in the silent film Niewolnica Zmysłów (Slave of the Senses) by the film production company Sfinks. Her international breakthrough, however, came as Carmen and Madame Dubarry, both directed by Ernst Lubitsch. It followed other movies with Lubitsch. At the height of her success, Negri went to the USA with a lucrative contract from the film company Paramount. She was built up by the studio as a possible rival to Gloria Swanson. However, her Hollywood films usually did not reach the level of her collaboration with Lubitsch. After a few disappointing productions, the studio had them work together again in 1924 for Forbidden Paradise, with Negri as Tsarina Catherine the Great. Negri became known in the US mainly for her headline romances with Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino. Although she received critical acclaim for the role of Catherine the Great, this was the last financial success for the actress. With the exception of Hotel Imperial, which she made with Mauritz Stiller in 1927, audiences and critics rejected her other films. Negri's North American career came to an end with the talkies: her strong accent did not go down well with audiences. From the 1950s she lived in San Antonio, Texas, and became a successful real estate agent. She made only two more films, in 1943 and 1964. In the 1964 Disney production The Moon Spinners, she was already taking stock of her life: "I have survived two world wars, four revolutions and five men."

Source: Wikipedia


  • Direction:
    Ernst Lubitsch
  • Screenplay:
    Hanns Kräly, Norbert Falk
  • camera:
    Alfred Hansen
  • Actors:
    Pola Negri (Carmen), Harry Liedtke (Don José Navarro), Leopold von Ledebur (Bullfighter Escamillo), Grete Dierks (Don Josés bride Dolores), Paul Biensfeldt (Smuggler Garcia), Paul Conradi (Smuggler Don Cairo), Max Kronert (Smuggler Remendato)u.v.a.
  • Restaurierung (2021):
  • Musik (2021):
    Tobias Schwencke (Commissioned by ZDF in collaboration with Arte)
  • Editorial:
    Nina Goslar, ZDF
  • Production:
    Thomas Schmölz, 2eleven music film)

Silent film classic by Arte -

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