Georg Kaiser describes in his Expressionist theater play, FROM MORN TO MIDNIGHT (VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS), the attempt of a bank cashier to escape his middle class daily life. Director Karlheinz Martin's film adaptation transfers Kaiser's play into an Expressionist work of radical stylization. The German film industry was so irritated by the resulting film, that it never found domestic distribution, and was never shown in German cinemas.  However, it did receive distribution in Japan and had its public premiére on December 3, 1922, at the Hongo-za cinema in Tokyo. Though believed lost for many years, this classic survived in Japan, where the only existing print of the film had been preserved by the National Film Center. The Filmmuseum München (Munich Film Museum) reconstructed and restored the film, and presents it on DVD with two scores that transfer the avant-garde visual concepts of the film into a musical structure. One is an improvised performance for three percussionists, performed by the SchlagEnsemble H/F/M; the other, is a modern score for seven musicians, composed and conducted by Yati Durant.  As a bonus feature the disc presents the premiere of the short film PERCUSSION ART AT THE BONN INTERNATIONAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL, featuring SchlagEnsemble H/F/M.

VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS  (1921) —Karlheinz Martin.

VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS (1921) —Karlheinz Martin.

Von Morgens bis Mitternachts 3-2.jpg

“The material world of VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS seems like a hallucination and as such is characterized as deliberately banal as well as fragile, unfinished and unstable. The architect Robert Neppach used the dazzling simplicity of the painted décor to illustrate the nature of things, social and human relationships. Here, the bank reveals itself as a life-sucking dungeon, the fence at the cashier's house accentuates a prison, itself trapped in its own location [....]

Light, costume and makeup design corresponded to the graphic concept and the sharply contrasting emphasis on light and darkness. Also the cashier's clothes, contoured with stripes of white paint, seem torn, appearing to mirror his mental constitution. Even if the characters have not quite discarded their "organic form" completely, producer Rudolf Kurtz had a point: they "are parts, formal elements of a decorative thought process, they are part of a three-dimensional image, are torn by flecks of light and stripes which have been painted onto them" ... Even the most dazzling light effects are not used to form three-dimensional space but accentuate lines and details of graphic image composition in accordance with the décor of the set [....]

The main stylistic problem in almost all explicitly anti-naturalistic films is how the actor, who can only artificially exaggerate his natural physiognomic traits to a certain extent, can be integrated into the image composition. In no other film in the tradition of narrative cinema outside the fantasy genre has this been done so obviously as in VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS, where the actors have also formally become part of the concept of décor and image.  Ernst Deutsch in the role of the cashier dissolves his movements into tense and then suddenly explosive gestures; he emphasizes, lengthens, or accelerates single details and never presents an organic, overall sequence of movements [....]

VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS (1921) — Karlheinz Martin.

VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS (1921) — Karlheinz Martin.

VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS may have enriched the development of cinema-aesthetics, nevertheless a public showing never took place in Germany in the 1920s. Producer Rudolf Kurtz blamed the radical use of real human beings as a design element in the construction of the film image for the reluctance of cinema owners to show VON MORGENS BIS MITTERNACHTS: "This moving around of human beings which only serve as formal elements, obstructs any access to the film." The effect of coldness and strangeness resulting from the unusual, artificial formal restrictions, the denial of three-dimensionality and object arrangement as well as the similarly inorganic and rhythmic-mechanical acting style was a deliberate calculation. It sums up rather precisely the intentions of this production: to illuminate frozen and grotesque images of society with the same dazzling light as desperate, and hence equally distorted, attempts to break out of a world which is unwilling to change. The fact that the film was ignored by commercial distributors and cinemas, set an early limit on the marketability of rigorously abstract tendencies in narrative cinema.”

— Jürgen Kasten, excerpted from his essay; Translated by Eva Viktoria Ballin



Format: DVD-PAL / Region 0
(No Regional Code)


(Germany, 1921)

Director: Karlheinz Martin
Screenplay: Karlheinz Martin & Herbert Juttke; based on the play by Georg Kaiser
Cinematographer: Carl Hoffmann
Producer: Produktion, München
Cast: Ernst Deutsch, Erna Morena, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Eberhard Wrede, Roma Bahn & Frieda Richard
Reconstruction: Filmmuseum München
Editor: Enno Patalas, Gerhard Ullmann & Klaus Volkmer

• 73 minutes
• B&W


Bonus Material

(Germany, 2008)

Director, writer, photographer & editor: Götz Lachwitz, Ulrich Naber & Simon Schmitz
Producer: Abteilung Medienwissenschaft des Instituts für Kommunikationswissenschaft der Universität Bonn, Ursula von Keitz. First release.

• 8 minutes  
• Color


Total Running Time: 01:21:00

Language: German intertitles, English, French & Spanish subtitles

Musical Score: Two Optional Scores: 

• Improvised Score by SchlagEnsemble H/F/M
• New ensemble music composed and conducted by Yati Durant

Booklet Text: Inge Degenhardt, Fritz Göttler, Francis Courtade & Jürgen Kasten (German, English & French)

Published By: Edition Filmmuseum

Institutional Price: $250 (plus shipping).

To order call: 212.280.8654 or click here for information on ordering by fax, e-mail or post.