Thursday, January 1, 2009

SF authors born 1884-93: 1888

1. Miriam Allen deFord
2. Thea von Harbou


Miriam Allen deFord (TK)



Thea von Harbou (1884-1954)

Thea Gabriele von Harbou was a German actress and author of Prussian aristocratic origin. She was born in Tauperlitz in the Kingdom of Bavaria. In 1905, she published her first novel. She then started to work as an actress, beginning in 1906. She married her first husband, the actor and director Rudolf Klein-Rogge, in 1914. In 1920, she wrote her first film script, Das Indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb, Mysteries of India), together with Fritz Lang. Lang became her second husband in 1922, and they collaborated in the following years, writing the screenplays for Metropolis and M together. They divorced in 1933.

In 1932, a year before Adolf Hitler came to power, Von Harbou joined the National Socialist German Workers Party, which presumably led to the divorce from Lang, who left Germany in 1934 for Paris after his film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was banned by the Nazi government. Lang's mother, although religiously a convert to Catholicism, was Jewish. Harbou wrote the script for Der Herrscher (1937), directed by Veit Harlan and starring Emil Jannings. The movie celebrates unconditional submission under absolute authority, eventually finding reward in total victory.

After the war she was detained by the British military government, and then did unskilled labor, such as cleaning up rubble from the bombing. After receiving a working permit she did some synchronizing of movies, but also continued to write scripts.


* Metropolis (Berlin, 1926; and London, 1927). An Expressionist novel set in a hyper-capitalist city-state whose Pharaonic master, Joh Fredersen, deplores those all-too-human weaknesses that make his laborers inferior to machines. He orders the mad inventor-magician Rotwang to build him "machine men"; instead, Rotwang creates a machine woman whom he names Futura, or Parody: "The being was, indubitably, a woman. In the soft garment which it wore stood a body, like the body of a young birch tree, swaying on feet set fast together. But, although it was a woman, it was not human. The body seemed as though made of crystal, through which the bones shone silver." Futura's face is rendered in the exact likeness of Maria, the "soul" of the workers (and Fredersen's pinko son's object of affection), and it's sent among the rebellious workers as an agent provocateuse. The workers revolt, and Futura/Maria is destroyed — along with much of Metropolis. Fun facts: Von Harbou and her husband, film director Fritz Lang, developed the scenario for Metropolis, then she wrote the novelization while he directed the classic 1927 movie. Yes, that's where Clark Kent's city got its name.

* The Girl in the Moon (Readers Library: London, 1930). Translated from 1928 German edition. Also published in abridged form in 1930, with stills from the movie Die Frau im Mond, as The Rocket to the Moon: From the Novel, The Girl in the Moon. Unspecified near future: Wold Helius, a brilliant German scientist, has successfully sent objects beyond the earth's gravitational field and an unmanned space probe around the moon. The lunar probe has rveealed that there is an atmosphere, vegetation, and insects on the other side of the moon — a manned expedition is planned. MORE TK



* Destiny (1921) directed by Fritz Lang
* Phantom (1922) directed by F. W. Murnau
* The Expulsion (1923) directed by F. W. Murnau
* The Grand Duke's Finances (1924) directed by F. W. Murnau
* Michael (1924) directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
* Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, King of Crime) (1922)
* Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (Siegfried's Death) (1924)
* Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache (Kriemhilde's Revenge) (1924)

* Metropolis (1927). Metropolis is a 1927 silent science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang and written by Lang and Thea von Harbou. Lang and von Harbou wrote the screenplay in 1924, and the story was novelized by von Harbou in 1926. It is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and examines a common science fiction theme of the day: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film stars Alfred Abel as the leader of the city, Gustav Fröhlich as his son, who tries to mediate between the elite caste and the workers, Brigitte Helm as both the pure-at-heart worker Maria and the debased robot version of her, and Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the mad scientist who created the robot.

* Spione (Spies) (1928)
* Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon), from her novel Die Frau im Mond (1929)
* M (1931)

No comments:

Post a Comment