REX HVAD DIOGENES SØKTE OG FANDT
[REX, What Diogenes Sought and Found]
O. Trygve Dalseg (NO 1923)
REX hvad Diogenes søkte og fandt is presented as a historical drama. It is based on the myth of the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes and his search for an honest man. The sage from Sinope is acknowledged as the father of cynic philosophy and known for his controversial behaviour and bold expression, which caused him to be banished from his birthplace. He argued that virtue is obtained by living with the complete absence of belongings, and that happiness is achieved by satisfying one’s earthly needs in the simplest possible way. According to myth, Diogenes lived in a barrel, and his only belongings were a cape, a walking staff, a lantern, and a bag to carry his bread.
Like the philosopher of history, our main character wanders through space and time in his search for the one true man. But unlike the ancient myth, our Diogenes has a vision in a dream: a charming woman encourages him to search for something greater – he ought to seek a true Rex, a king who will bring happiness and joy to the people. Diogenes sets off on his quest. Along his path over the centuries he meets legendary and powerful men, but not the Rex he seeks. He finally he ends up in Kristiania (Oslo) in the present: 1923. He sits to eat his dry bread. The modern woman of his vision appears, who introduces him to Rex Margarine. His quest is over: happiness at last!
Not only is this commercial for Rex Margarine the longest film in our programme, but it is also told in a slower tempo. It may therefore lag in terms of our current conception of a commercial film; however, we feel this is a good reason to showcase and emphasize it. In the film collection at the National Library of Norway, as well as at the Swedish Film Institute, we have several examples of silent commercials that definitely stretch our perception of how long a film commercial should be.
Worth mentioning is that this film was advertised in Aftenposten on 3 December 1923, where it received prestige billing as one of two films being premiered – it is actually headed with a larger font than the feature film! Three days later, on 6 December, it received a brief review in the newspaper Arbeiderbladet, admittedly as a commercial, but nevertheless! The cast is also worth mentioning. In the main roles are some of the most successful Norwegian actors of the time. The budget was 30,000 Norwegian kroner, an enormous sum in 1923, but even so, it is said that the production overran the budget and was an economic failure for the Norvegia Film Company.
About the DCP: The original tinted nitrate print, the source for the DCP, has some damage, including decomposition and fading, which made it difficult to restore the original colours.
Tina Anckarman & Magnus Rosborn
regia/dir: O. Trygve Dalseg.
scen: Peter Lykke-Seest.
photog: Gunnar Nilsen-Vig.
cast: Harald Stormoen (Diogenes), Stub Wiberg (Alessandro Magno/Alexander the Great), Ulf Selmer (Nero), Halvard Hoff (Sigurd Jorsalfare), Victor Bernau (Napoleon), Leif Enger (Gaius Petronius Arbiter), Frithjof Fearnley (lo schiavo negro/the black slave), Sæbjørn Buttedahl (Gudmund, il poeta cieco/the blind poet), ? (la donna/the woman).
prod: Norvegia Film Co., per/for Rex Margarine.
copia/copy: DCP, 24’25”, col. (da/from 35mm, 20 fps, imbibito/tinted); did./titles: NOR.
fonte/source: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Mo i Rana.