Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Esperanto and Cinema Part Three. Jean Forge: conclusion

Author: David Poulson
Published on: August 6, 1999

It is often very difficult to get your facts straight if you have to rely only on whatever printed sources happen to be available. At such times the WWW can be a great help. Here is a case in point.

Jean Forge died in December 1980 and an obituary tribute appeared in the January 1981 issue of Esperanto, the official journal of the International Esperanto Association (Universala Esperanto Asocio).Part of it reads as follows.

"Jean Forge owes his reputation mainly to three novelsAbismoj (1923) is a love-story the structure of which is better than the content. (See the previous Topic article for more details. Ed.) In the farcical Saltego Trans Jarmiloj , (1924) various people from our own time travel back to the days of the ancient Roman Empire in a time-machine. His most successful novel was Mr Tot Ac^etas Mil Okulojn, (1931) and the subject of that novel - the invasion of personal privacy as a result of hidden TV cameras installed in a large hotel - has not lost any of its topicality. It inspired the film The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse (1960) by the internationally famous film director, Fritz Lang."

A very interesting comment about the film! But a year later, a good and informative essay on film in the history of Esperanto (to which I am much indebted), written by Arpad Abonyi-Nagy, appeared in the journal, Monato (more recent issues of which cam be found here) http://www.esperanto.be/monato/index.html and said this.

"Certainly few people now remember that Fritz Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou made a serious effort to film Jean Forge's novel Mr Tot ac^etas mil okulojn,. But after Lang's famous film, The Testament of Dr Mabuse was banned in Germany, the other film was never finished."

There is no mention of any film made in 1960 and so I was uncertain as to what exactly happened.

To get more information I consulted one of the best reference resources on the WWW - something which deserves a place in anybody's top 100 sites. It is the Internet Movie Database, which contains copious information on more than 150,000 films. (The day after I wrote the previous sentence, I received in my mailbox PC Magazine Online's newly-revised list, "The Top 100 Web Sites", and, sure enough, it includes the IMDB).

A search on Fritz Lang quickly confirmed that he did indeed make a film called The Thousand Eyes of Dr Marbuse . In fact it was his last film, made after he had returned to Germany after spending 20 years in Hollywood. It is interesting to see that Lang kept this particular pot on the boil for about 25 years: Jean Forge must have been pleased!

For complete information about this film see: http://uk.imdb.com/Title?0054371

Like Fritz Lang, Jean Forge survived the Second World War, working in the film industry in Prague and Munich, and finally returning to Poland. During his long career, which started in 1928, he wrote more than 50 screenplays and directed a dozen films. You can find details of some of his work by searching the Internet Movie Database, looking under both "Jan Fethke"and "Jean Forge." (The compilers of the database don't appear to know that Fethke and Forge are the same person: I'd better tell them!)

However, there is no mention of a film which was shown in 1934 at the 26th Universala Kongreso in Stockholm. This was an Esperanto version of a film originally made in German and it was called Morgau Ni Komencos la Vivon. Another omission is Verda Stelo Super Varsovio. This film, about the 44th Universala Kongreso in Warsaw, was specially commissioned by the Polish Ministry of Culture because that Conference took place in 1959, 100 years after Zamenhof was born.

Forge was only 56 when he made this film and lived for another 21 years but I have not been able to find much information about thefinal two decades of his life. His last Esperanto books were two volumes of short stories and autobiographical articles -La Verda Raketo (1961) and Mia Verda Breviaro (1974) - and an Esperanto word-list for Polish students which he wrote with his brother Edmund in 1963. This last book was very popular and 46,000 copies were printed.

In 1974, Forge's three earlier novels and his two volumes of shorter pieces were published in Helsinki as part of the Fondumo Esperanto series. As has already been noted, Forge was a classical stylist and, because he was also first and foremost an entertainer, you are recommended to snap up any of these inexpensive works you might still be able to get your hands on.

Our next Topic article will continue the story of Esperanto and the cinema and may continue quite a few surprises for those readers not already familiar with the subject.

Don't miss it!

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