Nationality: Romanian. Also known as "Lupu-Pick." Born: Iasi (Jassy), 2 January 1886. Family: Married Edith Pasca. Career: Actor in Romania, 1914; immigrated to Germany, acted in Hamburg and Berlin, 1915; founded production company Rex Filmgesellschaft, 1917; directed first film, 1918; elected President of DACHO (German actors' union), 1930. Died: In Berlin, 9 March 1931.
Films as Director:
Der Weltspiegel; Die Liebe des van Royk; Die Rothenburger; Die tolle Heirat von Laló; Mister Wu
Der Seelenverkäufer; Herr über Leben und Tod; Kitsch; Marionetten der Leidenschaft; Mein Wille ist Gesetz; Tötetnicht mehr!; Misericordia (+ pr)
Der Dummkopf (The Idiot) (+ role); Niemand weiss es
Aus den Erinnerungen eines Frauenarztes Part 2; GrausigeNächte; Scherben (Shattered)
Zum Paradies der Damen
Sylvester (New Year's Eve); Der verbotene Weg (+ role)
La Péniche tragique
Das Haus der Lüge
Das Panzergewölbe (Armored Vault) (+ co-sc)
Eine Nacht in London (A Night in London) (+ pr)
Napoléon a Sainte-Hélène (Napoleon auf St. Helena)
Les Quatres Vagabonds; Gassenhauer
Schlemihl (Oswald) (role); Hoffmanns Erzählungen (Oswald) (role); Die Pagode (Mr. Wu) (role)
Nächte des Grauens (Robison) (role); Homunculus series (role)
Die Fremde (role)
Es werde Licht (three episodes) (role)
Fliehende Schatten (Lamprecht) (co-sc, role)
Stadt in Sicht (role)
Alte Herzen, neue Zeiten (role)
Spione (Lang) (role)
On PICK: books—
Kracauer, Siegfried, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, Princeton, New Jersey, 1947.
Borde, Raymond, Freddy Bauche, François Courtade, and Marcel Tariol, Le Cinéma réaliste allemand, Paris, 1959.
Manvell, Roger, and Heinrich Fraenkel, The German Cinema, New York, 1971.
* * *
Lupu Pick, a pioneer of the German Kammerspielfilm that led the way from expressionism to the new realism of the late 1920s, came to the cinema from the Berlin stage, where he worked as an actor under Piscator and Reinhardt. His first films as a director were segments of an adventure series for popular actor Bernd Aldor.
Two films that Pick created with scriptwriter Carl Mayer, Scherben and Sylvester, are the basis of his reputation. Scherben was the first German experiment in filmmaking without intertitles. Pick and Mayer adapted the name of Reinhardt's smallest stage—which had come to represent the intimacy and concentration of the plays staged there—in the subtitle of their first film together: Scherben, ein deutsches Filmkammerspiel. Critics often attribute the success of Scherben and Sylvester to Mayer. Indeed, Mayer wrote many of the films usually counted as kammerspielfilme, working with Murnau, Jessner, and Gerlack. But Pick undeniably contributed his unique interpretation of Mayer's scripts.
Scherben uses a single intertitle and is distinguished by the extended use of a moving camera, especially in long tracking shots along railway ties. This movement contrasts sharply with the stationary plot, the slow movement of the actors, and the long-held, still shots. At times masks seem to be used in response to the expressionist punctuation Mayer used in his scripts. Diagonal slash masks isolate an image just as Mayer's one word sentences are set off by exclamation marks.
Pick created a new, non-expressionist style, concentrating on naturalistic detail rather than on abstraction. Perhaps it was this enthusiasm for naturalism that led Pick to linger over the process of mechanical tasks and everyday events. Yet his work remains tied to the expressionist movement. The actors in his films, especially his wife Edith Posca and Werner Krauss, operated within the range of theatrical expressionist style. Shot at Pick's own Rex Studios in Berlin, Scherben is to a great extent manufactured in the studio, although its intent and its effect involve a realist illusion.
Unlike filmmakers truly caught up in expressionism, Pick was concerned with portraying individual psychology. In his attempts to construct a drama without language he developed a system of irises and dissolves that was quite different from the psychological editing style then developing in Hollywood. Rather than cut to a reaction, Pick often masked the frame, isolating a single character. At other times he would compose a shot so that an object, framed in relation to a character, could represent a thought. While the style that Pick developed may have had little influence on subsequent filmmaking, it was nevertheless a bold experiment in film narrative in its time.
Originally Pick and Mayer had planned a trilogy that would include Scherben, Sylvester, and Der letze Mann, but a disagreement over the character of the doorman in the third film led to Pick's departure from the project.
The films Pick made after his collaboration with Mayer are not remembered by many. He continued to work as an actor, both on stage and in films. His best known role is that of Dr. Matsumoto in Lang's Spione. Pick made a single sound film, Gassenhauer, reportedly an experiment in asynchronous sound.