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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply marvellous!
This impressive German silent film deserves its place in Eureka's "Masters of Cinema" series, mainly for its artistic qualities using various camera and lighting techniques. The art of expressing a story, its characters and their emotions without the use of talking reached its glorious pinnacle in the late 1920s, and "Asphalt" is a beautiful example of this special form...
Published on 27 April 2005 by Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good But Not Great Example Of Late German Silent Cinema.
Joe May's ASPHALT has been impossible to see in America until just very recently when Kino International released it as part of their ongoing series of German silent cinema. Their edition is a Region 1 copy of this Eureka release which came out in 2005. Joe May (pronounced MY) was once a very important man in the German cinema of the 1920's. He had his own production...
Published on 28 July 2006 by Chip Kaufmann


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply marvellous!, 27 April 2005
This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
This impressive German silent film deserves its place in Eureka's "Masters of Cinema" series, mainly for its artistic qualities using various camera and lighting techniques. The art of expressing a story, its characters and their emotions without the use of talking reached its glorious pinnacle in the late 1920s, and "Asphalt" is a beautiful example of this special form of cinema. The story of "Asphalt" is fairly simple: a sensuous woman uses flirtation and the usual feminine wiles to steal, then avoid being arrested as she compromises a young, duty-conscious policeman. Before he knows it he's in deep trouble which leads to some suspense, and the final outcome is emotionally satisfying for the viewer. This basic storyline is greatly enhanced by the use of the camera: moving cameras, close-ups, montages and other effective techniques which captivate the viewer. Adding further dimension and emotional impact are the superb performances by the stars: Betty Amann is perfect in her role as the seductive thief and Drama Queen who later shows her true colours, thereby adding depth to her character. Gustav Froehlich, star of Germany's most famous silent film, "Metrolopis", is equally brilliant as the young policeman who goes through anguishing emotions over the thief he was supposed to arrest. To top it all off, the picture quality is excellent and the orchestral musical score perfectly suits the moods and atmosphere of the film. Definitely a must-have in any good silent film collection, and also an important addition to any fine quality movie collection in general. Eureka has also supplied an extremely good booklet giving a short overview of silent films, the director of "Asphalt" and various other points of interest about the film. Another 5-star masterpiece by Eureka not to be missed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHOCKINGLY EXCELLENT! ASPAHLT IS FANTASTIC!, 8 Feb 2014
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HAN XIAO "heaven851102" (CHINA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
SHOCKINGLY EXCELLENT! ASPAHLT IS FANTASTIC! I NEVER EXPECT TO SEE SUCH A TOTALLY UTERLY WONDERFUL PIECE OF WORK FROM THE SILENT ERA, WHICH ADDS MORE TO MY APPRECIATION TO IT. CONSIDERING THIS CAN'T EASILY GET A BETTER RELEASE, GET IT BEFORE IT WENT OOP.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Style over Substance, 8 April 2014
This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
"Asphalt" is one of the last German Expressionist films of the silent era. Directed by Joe May and produced by Erich Pommer, this 1929 production tells the classic story of the naïve, dutiful cop (Gustav Fröhlich - Metropolis) being seduced and corrupted by a criminal femme fatale (Betty Amann) with disastrous consequences. This Eureka! - Masters of Cinema release contains the most complete version available.

The real appeal of "Asphalt" is in my opinion in the excellent quality of the film and the techniques used to create an intense and intimate atmosphere. The amazing opening scene of the Berlin traffic (completely shot in the UFA studios), the effective usage of the "Entfesselte Kamera", the facial close ups and the lighting techniques make "Asphalt" an exciting visual experience. However, as the storyline is straightforward and predictable, I think it has also made "Asphalt" an example of style over substance.

Al in all, the melodramatic story in combination with the atmosphere of "Asphalt", make this a proto-type of the Film Noir-genre. As such, it should be part of any film historian's or early movies fan's collection.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good But Not Great Example Of Late German Silent Cinema., 28 July 2006
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Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
Joe May's ASPHALT has been impossible to see in America until just very recently when Kino International released it as part of their ongoing series of German silent cinema. Their edition is a Region 1 copy of this Eureka release which came out in 2005. Joe May (pronounced MY) was once a very important man in the German cinema of the 1920's. He had his own production company which made THE INDIAN TOMB a film which helped to launch the careers of Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou who quickly eclipsed him with such films as DR MABUSE, DIE NIBELUNGEN, and METROPOLIS. Forced to flee Germany when Hitler came to power (like Lang but not von Harbou) he never attained a career in Hollywood the way Lang did although his 1940 film of Nathaniel Hawthorne's HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES with Vincent Price is quite good. Which brings us back to ASPHALT.

Although extremely well made entirely in a studio and full of first rate black and white photography and crisp editing, the story of a lady thief and the policeman who becomes involved with her is ultimately disappointing as there is really nothing that exciting here especially if you compare it with G.W. Pabst's PANDORA'S BOX which was made at the same time. Lead actress Betty Amann does a good job but she's no Louise Brooks and her part calls for charisma. It's nice to see Gustav Frohlich in something other than METROPOLIS and he acquits himself well in a more restrained performance. I'm glad to have finally seen ASPHALT after having read about it but it won't be a film that I'll be revisiting often like PANDORA'S BOX or DIARY OF A LOST GIRL which are better examples of what was being done on the dramatic front in Germany at the time. It's probably no accident that Joe May was not able to make a name for himself in America where there was so much more competition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC, 19 Aug 2014
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BigK90 (Nottingham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
Not seen many silents, but this is ace, a good introduction to the era with a similar vibe to metropolis, grand stuff indeed!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars charming, 18 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
1929. The end of a romantic era. The silent cinema was dying. Fortunately, you can find some swan song here and there. Asphalt is one example. Visually beautiful, it's a love story between people with completely different social roles. The authority, conventionalism , love, redemption, etc.... Somehow this movie represents the end of an era.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You, Miss, are no Louise Brooks, 9 Dec 2012
By 
Gabor Lux (Pécs, Hungary) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Asphalt - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] (DVD)
"You, Miss, are no Louise Brooks" is how I would sum up this late silent era picture about a chance meeting between a beautiful diamond thief and a handsome young street cop. There was only one Louise, though, so much can be forgiven about the straightforward plot and complete lack of surprises. If some of the films from the period are amazing in their inventiveness and emotional impact, Asphalt is simply a highly professional effort that's staged well, shot well, and lit up very well (the soft light-shadow contrasts are to die for). It is hard to believe the images of Berlin nightlife with its gleaming neon signs, lit shops and never-ending traffic are studio sets, since they appear like the real deal - but apparently, film studio UFA thought they had to build it all themselves to be even better than reality.

What is missing, unfortunately, is the spark of genius. There is not much of a plot - the initial situation, where a young policeman (Gustav Fröhlich after his debut in Metropolis) still living with his elderly parents lets himself be seduced by the dark-haired, erotic Else (Betty Amann) after arresting her, progresses in the most predictable way that is possible. Of course, things don't work out; a side-plot featuring the lady thief's former lover is brought in, but has relatively little significance; then it all ends the way these stories tend to end. The performances are good, but hardly earth-shattering, with something lacking in the chemistry between Fröhlich and Amann, who, granted, have those perfect magazine cover faces.

Lastly, the direction does not allow itself to be bridled with much beyond showing two good-looking people falling in love, than taking the fall for each other. Joe May was an important director of his generation, but he was severely outclassed by his contemporaries, some of whom were his own protégés. On its own, Asphalt's big city and thieves are interesting enough, but they stand up to neither Feuillade's crime serials nor Lang (and von Harbou)'s paranoid urban thrillers nor Pabst or Murnau's love stories, all of which come back here as a sort of distant echo.

What remains in the end is image. Asphalt just looks very good, its characters also look very good, there are fantastic montages of (fake) Berlin at night, and it is all smooth, effortless, and entertaining - that is, a good movie as long as you don't expect more than that.
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