While on Pinterest the other day, I was struck by an image on someone's "antique" board. In between the many beautiful Victorian ladies and flappers on that page was a face that jumped out at me.
So then I had to google Fern Andra to see what her story was. The first search result that popped up was about a movie titled Genuine, also known as Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire. This silent movie was released in 1920 and was directed by Robert Wiene. Some of you might be familiar with him as the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I read that the Genuine sets were designed by a German Expressionist artist named César Klein. Genuine the vampire's outfits are all really stylish too.
Look at all those neat shapes. I think some of this is oddly sexy even for 2015. It looks as if someone went wild with a roll of duct tape. Supposedly, some people were enraged that Fern wore an outfit that was painted directly on her body for this movie. I don't know how, but I must have missed that. I think this one was probably made from strips of fabric. I like how this costume reminds me of an insect with long feathery antenna and spotted wings.
I've been thinking about the 1920s lately and how wild people were then. I feel like without The Depression years dumping a cold bucket of water on the 1920s, we could be living in a really wild society now. The more I look at the glammed up ladies of this time, the more I think we modern ladies could take a few tips. The makeup, the jewelry, the attitude.
|Maybe not quite this much attitude ;)|
A few video clips of her as Genuine:
Isn't that neat how she emerges? Those movements... She's like a dancer. I think she holds up as a spooky, mesmerizing vampire by today's standards. I've actually never seen a vampire portrayed in this way, but I like it! She's like a slow moving spider with that sleeping guy in her web, or like a stalking cat. She doesn't need to hurry or leap out and pounce on him. She can just sneak out and take her time. Dude never saw it coming.
Looking at the Genuine character reminds me of some women I was reading about recently. Her fluffy hair, her exotic appearance, and her being a sort of kidnapped harem girl fits with The Circassian Beauties of the 1800s. The Circassian Beauties, or P.T. Barnum's invented version of them, could be a whole blog post within itself!
Here's Genuine in its entirety, or at least as entire as the film can be now:
This video is about 45 minutes long, but it moves fast. Interestingly, if I hadn't read that this was a vampire movie I would have thought it was about an evil enchantress. There's no blood or fangs to speak of, but Genuine is believably wicked. Like in all silent movies, you'll see that the characters' movements and expressions had to do all the talking. The modern guitar music that has been set to this video fits really well with the images and is pretty cool in itself.
|Quite the bedroom, hey? Note the parrots.|
|Another neat decorative background. Check out that clock!|
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski is in this as Florian, one of Genuine's love interests. He's worth a mention for his style. His hairdo and that of his hairdresser uncle are something to behold. There's something modern about him. I'd think he was a hip, good looking guy if I saw him walk by today (aside from the knickers). I read this actor is also in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which is another reason for me to see that movie. That and Conrad Veidt. Gorgeous looking people are evidently reason enough for me to watch a movie.
|Conrad Veidt = gorgeous.|
Such beautiful eyes. I'm thinking that expressive eyes were more of a requirement back when we couldn't hear the actors.
Has anyone else seen Genuine? I'm guessing more of you have watched The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Back to my interest in Fern Andra, which is how this all started. She had a long and action-packed life. Fern was born to a circus performer and an opera singer and performed in the circus starting at age four. She was on the tightrope! I hope that rope wasn't too far off the ground for a four-year-old. She toured the United States, Canada, and Europe on the high wire. Fern took acting lessons in Berlin or Vienna depending on who is telling the story, and went on to perform in German silent movies.
Her life is like something out of a movie, from being accused of acting as a spy during WWI (actually true) to surviving a small plane crash that killed the other passengers. An interesting note is that the man flying that plane was the brother of "The Red Baron" Manfred von Richthofen. Fern had four husbands and lived until the age of 80.
|This is the picture of her that first caught my eye.|