STUDIES AND RESEARCH
The Film Version of Vojnović’s Drama Gospođa sa suncokretom
(The Lady with the Sunflower)
On the basis of information
gathered from documents preserved in the inheritance of
the Vojnović family, the author of the text examines the
relationship of Croatian writer Ivo Vojnović toward the
medium of film, and the circumstances surrounding the creation
of the film Gospođa sa suncokretom (Die Dame mit den
Sonnenblumen) by Michael Curtiz, which was shot in
1920 in Dubrovnik and Split and based on Vojnović’s drama
of the same name.
Ivo Vojnović (1857-1929) was the first Croatian
writer to react to the new media landscape at the beginning
of the century in which film had an ever growing importance,
by introducing cinematic elements into the content, scenography
and structure of the drama Gospođa sa suncokretem 1912.
In his final work U Prologu nenapisane drame (In
the Preface to an Unwritten Drama) 1925, he brought
out an entire cinematic team onto the theater stage and,
in a conversation with the author and a film director,
he expressed his opinions on the relationship between
theater and the new medium.
Gospođa sa suncokretem, which the author himself
describes as a cinema drama, piqued great interest in its
time, and was shown outside of Croatia, on the stages of
Budapest, Prague and Berlin. There is a possibility that
Michael Curtiz had already, at this time, come to know
this work and had become interested in adapting it to film.
In Michael Curtiz’s filmography, this title is mentioned
twice: in 1918, when he was still making films in Hungary,
and in 1920, when he made a film under the same title for
Sascha film from Vienna with actors Lucy Dorraine, Anton
Tiller, Ivan Svetislav Petrović and Croatian National Theater
actor Ivo Badalić. While the first film still remains a
mystery, the second film from 1920 has information about
the authors and performers, and its screenings in Zagreb,
Dubrovnik, Belgrade, Vienna and Prague are documented in
archives and in contemporary film criticism.