Flat Earth Society Plays: die Austernprinzessin
This satire about a fabulously rich oyster baron is a bittersweet tale of the excessive wealth of the American bourgeoisie in the 1920s. The silent film classic is accompanied live by the Belgian big band ensemble The Flat Earth Society, who perform scores by Peter Vermeersch.
Die Austernprinzessin (The Oyster Princess) tells the story of oyster baron Quaker, a man so rich he employs a butler to hold his cigar for him as he smokes. The only thing that can still impress King Quaker is a marriage candidate for his daughter. He won’t settle for anything less than a real prince.
The mansion of the Oyster King has been lavishly designed down to the last detail. Numerous secretaries are lined up in impeccable uniforms like military troops on parade. Long rows of servants file through the spacious rooms as in a procession. The entire film was directed by filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch in a dynamic choreography.
The Oyster Princess marks a turning point in Lubitsch’s comedies as he moved away from slapstick towards a more sophisticated form of satire. His target in this comedy is the American nouveaux riches. With a wry sense of humour he satirizes both the excessive wealth of the American bourgeoisie in the 1920s and the impoverished but imperious European aristocracy. Some of Lubitsch’ films from his Berlin period around 1915 were recently restored, including Carmen (Gypsy Blood) and Die Austernprinzessin of 1919. With live musical accompaniment by the fourteen strong big band Flat Earth Society conducted by Peter Vermeersch, producer of the first dEUS CD.