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Two Worlds

Two Worlds

An Austrian officer falls in love with a Jewish villager in this early sound epic set during WWI

War 1931 89 mins

Director: E.A. Dupont

Overview

Set on the Austro-Russian Front in 1917, this early sound epic feels like a long-lost cousin of David Lean's Dr Zhivago. Hitchcock regular John Longden plays an arrogant Austrian officer who gets involved with a Jewish villager (Norah Baring) who hides him from the advancing Russians. The story by Thekla von Bodo was likely inspired by the fate of Galicia, a province of the Austro-Hungarian empire with a large Ashkenazi Jewish population, invaded by Russia in 1914. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered in mass pogroms throughout eastern Europe during this period, with many more fleeing to Britain or the US.

German-born director EA Dupont was a major figure in British cinema’s late-silent era and in the transition to sound. Two Worlds was part of a short but fascinating fad for early sound films produced in multiple languages. Dupont’s silent classics Moulin Rouge and Piccadilly (both also available on BFI Player) were followed by the first multilingual film Atlantic, loosely based on the Titanic disaster. Like Atlantic, Two Worlds was also produced in German (as Zwei Welten) and French (as Les Deux Mondes). The BFI National Archive holds many original film elements for these productions.