Designing the Worlds of Joe May
Joe May’s films in the late 1910s and early 1920s were remarkable for the creative talents involved in their de-sign and realization. This presentation will concentrate on two visionary artists, Paul Leni and Martin Jacoby-Boy, whose visual concepts were translated into the cinematic worlds of May’s adventure epics and melodra-mas, with particular focus on the individual films VERITAS VINCIT, DIE HERRIN DER WELT, DAS INDISCHE GRABMAL, TRAGÖDIE DER LIEBE, and DER FARMER AUS TEXAS. Taking a biographical and historical approach to the designers and the place of these films in their careers and May’s oeuvre, it will also touch upon the participation of art depart-ment technicians Fritz Maurischat and Erich Kettelhut, as well as the essential contributions of cameramen such as Werner Brandes and Sophus Wangøe who helped to bring them to life. Designs, stills, and publicity material will be featured to help document and explore the working process and show how design can play a key part in storytelling, involving and amazing the audience. Besides the building of some truly spectacular sets, the films also involve the imaginative use of set dressing, props, framing, lighting, locations, and special effects, providing an arena and a magic carpet for the actors and some amazing stories. Most of which were created in the May studios in and around Berlin. Let your imagination take flight, courtesy of the world of production design!