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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.

Vjekoslav Majcen

Some Other Sources of Film Topology
Zagreb’s Kajkavian Dialect in Golik’s Film Tko pjeva zlo ne misli
The Film Music of Ivo Tijardović
David Cronenberg — Between the Cult and the Occultism

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