The Scarlet Letter (1973 film)

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The Scarlet Letter
Directed by Wim Wenders
Starring Senta Berger
Hans Christian Blech
Lou Castel
Release date(s) 1973
Country Germany
Language German

The Scarlet Letter (German: Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe) is a 1973 German film directed by Wim Wenders. It is an adaptation of the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel The Scarlet Letter.

The film stars Senta Berger as Hester Prynne, Hans Christian Blech as Roger Chillingworth, and Lou Castel as Rev. Dimmesdale.

Information about the film from the director’s commentary[edit]

Wenders explained that the experience of directing this, his second film, was the usual one which occurs with a new director. It is much more difficult and much less successful. One of the biggest problems is that the interior shots were finished first (Normally exteriors are shot first). These were shot at a studio in Cologne. If you notice in the interior shots, the landscape outside the windows does not appear. The windows were covered with a variant of the rice paper you see in traditional Japanese homes. This was done because they did not know what the outside would look like. Care also had to be taken with not showing the environment outside the doors of interior shots. The exteriors which were supposed to resemble Salem, Massachusetts, were shot in Galicia, Spain. The look of the evening shots outdoors utilized the existing day for night techniques of exposure.

There are a few brief shots in which one sees a three-masted ship on the ocean in the background. This was not a real ship but was a small model sized correctly for the shot and hung in front of the lens (called forced perspective). Only one extra building had to be erected in Galicia for the exterior shooting to hide the large gap between buildings.

As far as the actors were concerned, they were from all over Europe and so all of the dialogue had to be looped afterward. Six or seven different languages were being spoken by the actors. The extras which represent the inhabitants of Salem were all Spaniards.

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