Review: Broken Lullaby
Blu-ray: Broken Lullaby (1932)
Paul Renard (Phillips Holmes) can’t overcome his grief of killing German soldier Walter during the First World War, so he travels to Walter’s home town to ask Walter’s family for forgiveness.
Caught off guard when the grieving family assumes that he is a friend of Walter, they embrace him into their social sphere, with events becoming even more complicated when Walter’s fiancée Elsa (Nancy Carroll) begins to fall in love with him.
Broken Lullaby is a wonderful movie on many levels, from the inspired direction of Ernst Lubitsch (a shot of a military parade framed by the single limb of a war casualty is simply beautiful), through to creative use of the, still new to cinema, soundtrack (one of the best uses of marching feet I’ve heard in a movie), and heartfelt performances from the cast (with only Holmes coming across as a bit too “stagey”), all come together to create a visual and aural experience not to be quickly forgotten.
Made in the pre-code era, the lack of the restrictions that would soon to come definitely helps forward the narrative in a more natural and engaging way, and despite this now being made over 90 years ago, there are a lot of themes that will resonate with modern day viewers.
A heartwarming movie that should be watched as soon as possible.
All that and I didn’t even mention Lionel Barrymore!
- 2021 restoration from a 2K scan
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with author and film historian Joseph McBride (2021)
- The Films of Ernst Lubitsch (2001, 69 mins): archival audio recording of a talk by Scott Eyman, author of Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise, originally presented as part the British Film Institute’s 2001 Lubitsch retrospective at the National Film Theatre, London
- The Men I Killed (2023, 14 mins): video essay on Broken Lullaby and François Ozon’s 2016 film Frantz, comparing their different cinematic approaches to adapting Maurice Rostand’s 1930 play, L’Homme que j’ai tué, and its 1931 English-language translation, The Man I Killed, by Reginald Berkeley
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Christina Newland, contemporary profiles of producer-director Ernst Lubitsch and star Lionel Barrymore, a brief look at the career of screenwriter Samson Raphaelson, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies for the UK
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by PowerhouseFilms.