Schiele in Prison

DirectorMick Gold
One line synopsisThe life and work of Austrian figurative painter, Egon Schiele (1890-1918), set against the background of paintings by his mentor, Gustav Klimt, and others.

CU of actor as Egon Schiele as he describes his arrest on grounds of obscenity. Three Self Portrait as Prisoner (1912) by Schiele, and The Single Orange was the Only Light (1912). Prison window. Stork nesting on chimney-top. Views over towns and countryside, and Vienna. Pictures by Schiele. The Fighter (1913), Nude (1910), Self Portrait Grimacing (1910).Commentary describes his work as being "dominated by sexuality and self obsession, the classic preoccupations of the artist as outsider … at odds with his time and place…". One of the two faces from Prophets (aka Double Self Portrait, 1911). Views of buildings in Vienna and representations of court life at the end of the nineteenth century (Court Ball at the Hofburg, Wilhelm Gause, 1900; actuality footage of the Emperor Franz Josef and other royalty). Photograph of the early Ringstrasse, and views of some of its buildings ("an Athenian parliament, a Gothic town hall, a Renaissance opera house") and details of their decoration. Photographs of Hans Makart, the leading artist, and Rudolf van Alt’s The Studio of the Painter, Hans Makart (1895); details of the painting on the wall, Spring (1883-1884). Other paintings by Makart and photo of a woman in "Egyptian" pose. The Death of Cleopatra (1875); Cleopatra Hunting on the Nile (1876); The Triumph of Ariadne (1873-1874); photograph of Makart’s salon; images from the Designs for the Jubilee Procession of Emperor Franz Joseph (1879) representing The Railway Workers and The Textile Industry. Film of early cars, military procession, Kaiser and others; photograph of men skating; military exercises. Photographs of Schiele’s parents and siblings; commentary notes that his father, a railway worker, had untreated syphilis which resulted in three stillborn children and his own insanity. Railway scenes. Photograph of young Egon; Self Portrait with Tie (aka Self Portrait Facing Right, 1907), the year after he was accepted by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Art. Interior of the Vienna Burgtheater with view of mural of Romeo and Juliet (1888) by Gustav Klimt who became leader of the artistic life of Vienna on Makart’s death. Also by Klimt: Love (1895) and Minerva, or Pallas Athena (1898). The headquarters building, by Joseph Maria Olbrich (1897), of the Vienna Secession movement (Sezessionsstil), whose founding President was Klimt. Actor as Klimt saying that exhibitions, though not an ideal method, are the only means by which the group’s art can be made available to the public. Photograph of exhibition; Giovanni Segantini’s The Bad Mothers / Le cattive madri (1894); others; illustration by Koloman Moser for Rainer Maria Rilke’s Vorfrühling / Early Spring (1901); cover of fourth issue (1899) of Ver Sacrum, the group’s magazine, also by Moser. Drawing by Rudolf Bacher shows Emperor Franz-Joseph Visiting the First Exhibition of the Secession Group.

Photographs of Schiele from his time at art school and of a life class. Actor Schiele quotes the points from his manifesto to his teachers. Klimt’s Idyll (1884). Black and white reproductions of his Justice/Jurisprudence (1903), Philosophy (1900) and Medicine (1901) for the University of Vienna, which were in a more Symbolist style and attacked as being pornographic and "emotionally disturbing"; extracts from critical texts read over. Actor Klimt on the work. Actor Schiele shows some of his work to actor Klimt. Schiele’s Agony (1912) and Hermits (1912), double portraits of himself and Klimt. Some of Klimt’s society portraits: of Sonja Knips (1898), of Pianist and Piano Teacher Joseph Pembauer (1890), Mrs. Fritza Riedler (1906) Miss Emilie Floege (1902), and of Margarethe Stonborough-Wittgenstein (1905). Details of the Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait (1907), Water Snakes II (The Friends) (1904-1907), sketches for frieze for the Palais Stoclet, Brussels (1905-1907), with Anticipation and The Embrace, and The Kiss (1907-1908), showing stylistic influences of Byzantine, Oriental and Mycenaean art. Early street and court scenes in Vienna; commentary says that, unlike London and Paris, the middle class here remained quite separate from the ruling elite, and the empire was beginning to disintegrate. Commentary notes that Klimt and Schiele "began to move in opposite directions" as Schiele moved from decoration to "internal proccupations" by removing backgrounds and focussing on hands and eyes. A Schiele Self Portrait. Portrait of Hans Massmann (1909). Reclining Male Nude with Green Cloth (1910). Another Self Portrait. Fighter. Schiele also became "obsessed with his own appearance": Self Portrait (1910), Seated Male Nude (1910), Self Portrait Nude (1910), Standing Male Nude, Facing Front (Self Portrait) (1910), Self-Portrait with Naked Shoulder Pulled Up (1912), Prophets (Double Self Portrait), Self Portrait, Grimacing, another Standing Male Nude, Facing Front (Self Portrait) (1910), Self-Portrait in Black Cloak, Masturbating (1911), etc. Actor Schiele quoting letter to a would-be patron in which he complains of hostility to his work. Anton Josef Trčka’s portrait of Egon Schiele (1912) and photographs of Klimt and Arnold Schönberg, among a group of artists ridiculed by the public. Photographs of political meetings and demonstrations; photographs of Sigmund Freud whose theories "were laughed at or disguised". Another Egyptian subject by Makart; photograph of Makart with the painting; his work had been "acceptably erotic … contained within an historic framework". The "more provocative" sexuality of work like Klimt’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes (1901), and sketch of woman masturbating and Medicine, acceptable only to private collectors. "Egon Schiele’s work implicates you, the viewer, in an enclosed world of self absorbtion": Schiele Drawing Nude Before Mirror (1910) and sketch of Nude (1911). Nude with Violet Stockings (1912), The Virgin (1913), Seated Couple (Egon and Edith Schiele) (1915). Others including Standing Female Nude with Crossed Arms (1910). Lovers I (aka Man and Woman I, 1914). Photographs of young women: commentary talks about the contrast between the image of prostitutes and "respectable" women. A Klimt portrait of a young woman black and white reproduction of Portrait of Marie Henneberg (1901-1902), landscape; anti-Semitic drawings. Portrait of Gustav Mahler (1902 etching by Emil Orlik), quoted about his 8th Symphony – extract heard over shots of Viennese architectural features, Klimt’s portrait of Fritza von Riedler (1906). The Two Sisters (1906) by Richard Gerstl, Schiele’s Standing Female Nude with Crossed Arms, statuary, etc. The Ferris wheel and tower of St Stephen’s, etc. Vienna’s avant garde began to disintegrate around 1910. Actor Klimt complaining about criticism that insults his integrity, says he will never again exhibit in Vienna . Photograph of Mahler who left for America; Gerstl’s Portrait of Arnold Schönberg (c.1905-1906) who went to Berlin, as did Oskar Kokoschka (photograph). Self Portrait, Laughing (1908) by Gerstl, who committed suicide. Actor Schiele saying he wants to leave Vienna. River. Krumau (Český Krumlov), in Bohemia, where Schiele went in 1911. Krumau (1911), The Little City /Dead City VI (1912), detail from Dead City IV (1911); houses; watercolour version of The Yellow City (1914), same view of houses; The Little City II/III (1912-1913); Suburb I (1914), similar view of houses; House with Shingle Roof, Old Houses in Krumau (1914); sketch of windows, view of similar houses. View over town. Actor Schiele saying that he could "fight" the people of Krumau who were hostile to him, but will leave. Photograph of Schiele and Wally Neuzil. Trees; water; Schiele’s VO "I have become aware: Earth breathes, smells, listens… I am so rich that I must give myself away.": detail from Sunflowers II (1911); Autumn Tree in Turbulent Air (1912); Autumn Tree with Fuchsias; trees; Four Trees (1917). Trees.

Orchard; commentary says that Schiele "aroused suspicion" after moving to Neulenbach. Black-haired Nude Girl, Standing (1910); actor Klimt’s VO saying he "had warned Schiele to be careful in his relations with child models…". Prison window. Actor Schiele describing his arrest (words from his diary); on prison bed; The Door into the Open (1912). Actor Judge asks for correction to published diary as the account of events is not true; it is possible that the publisher altered the diaries. Studio; actor Schiele on his imprisonment. Actor Judge claims Schiele should know the reason for his arrest; sketch of girl (1911); actor Schiele on prison bed disputing the charges; Standing Female Nude with Crossed Arms; actor Schiele discusses the idea of "corruption". Prisoner! (1912); Hindering the Artist is a Crime: It is Murdering Life in the Bud (1912); For My Art and My Loved Ones, I Will Gladly Endure to the End! (1912). Actor Judge counters "the assertions made in the book, Schiele in Prison"; actor Schiele argues; Judge burns painting. Funfair rides; view from Wheel in the Prater. Self Portrait as Saint Sebastian (1914); photograph by Trčka, hand coloured by Schiele, Egon Schiele with Raised Arms (1914), actor Schiele in same pose quoting letter to his mother, "Without doubt, I shall be the greatest, the most beautiful … the most precious crop…". Levitation (1915). Photographs of Schiele. Self Portrait with Checked Shirt (1917). Double photograph of Schiele. Triple Self Portrait (1913). More photographs by Trčka. Self Portrait. Actor Schiele announces his intention to marry. Photograph of Schiele with Edith Harms. After his marriage, his figures "became more conventional in appearance". Portrait of the Artist's Wife, Seated (1918), Portrait of Johann Harms (1916); Portrait of Hugo Koller (1918) which demonstrates use of props "to suggest an environment". – "the amputated limbs and discoloured flesh began to disappear": pictures including Squatting Women (1918), Family (1918). Photograph of Edith; final portrait of Schiele and Wally Neuzil, Death and the Maiden (1915). Newsreel of military scenes, soldiers dancing, etc. Troops on the march; Mahler’s Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn No. 9, 1898) sung over. Actor Schiele talking about the war, and his preference for "the enemy". Sketches produced during Schiele’s time as an official war artist; A Sick Russian (1915). New regimental emblem designed by Schiele. Photograph of Schiele. Paintings and drawings Schiele sold at the 1918 Secession exhibition. Modern day Vienna. Part of Makart’s 1879 Jubilee, "both a celebration of the Emperor and a work of art". Klimt’s Romeo and Juliet: his public work and work for his private patrons were separate; Female Nude. Mrs Fritza Riedler. "Schiele’s world was completely private…": Nude, Self Portrait (1910). Photograph by Johannes Fischer, Portrait of Egon Schiele (c.1915). Klimt’s Death and Life (1918); he, Schiele and Edith Schiele all died in the flu epidemic of 1918; Schiele’s early death "greatly contributed to the aura of martyrdom surrounding his life and work. But it is the compulsive quality of his images that disturbs the boundary between public and private..." A 1912 Self Portrait as Prisoner. Self Portrait in Black Coat, Masturbating. Death mask. Street signs for Makartgasse, Klimtgasse, Egon Schiele-Gasse. Credits.

Running time47 minutes
Full credits

We would like to thank the following for their help with the making of this film:
Basel, Kunstmuseum,
Graz, Herr Viktor Fogarassy,
Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum,
Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum,
Kassell, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen,
Linz, Wolfgang Gurlitt Museum,
London, Austrian Institute,
Anglo-Austrian Society,
BBC Open University,
Imperial War Museum,
Fischer Fine Art Ltd.,
Marlborough Fine Art Ltd.,
Mary Evans Picture Library,
The Cooper Bridgeman Library,
Polytechnic of Central London Film Studio,
New York, The Galerie St Etienne,
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,
Dr Gisela Fleischmann,
Oberlin, Allen Memorial Art Museum,
Praha, Narodni Galerie v Praze,
Ceskoslovensky Filmexport,
Salzburg Salzburger Museum Carolino Augusteum,
Residenz Verlag,
Galerie WelzVerlag,
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie,
Wien, Albertina Graphische Sammlung,
Österreichische Galerie,
Fotostudio Johanna Fiegl,
Ing. Norbert Gradisch,
Dr Gerbert Frodl,
Dr Rudolf Leopold,
Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien,
Kunsthistorisches Museum,
Österreichisches Filmmusem,
Österreichisches Bundestheaterverband,
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek: Bildarchiv,
Presse und Informationdienst der Stadt Wien,
Zug, Herr Peter Kamm,
Zürich Kunsthaus.
Mahler’s 8th Symphony by permission of Sir Georg Solti & Decca Record Company Ltd.
Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen by permission of EMI Records Ltd.
Egon Schiele, Grant Cathro;
Gustav Klimt, David Suchet;
The Judge, Nicholas Selby;
Make-up, Viv Gunzi.
Casting Sheila Trezise;
Production assistants Tricia Bulmer,
Meir Wigoder;
Sets and costumes Jamie Leonard;
Schiele’s writings translated by Allessandra Comini;
Other translations by Susan Gold;
Script based upon research by Christian Nebehay,
Allessandra Comini,
Peter Vergo;
Music Composed & Conducted by David Kershaw;
Commentary spoken by Ruth Cubbin;
Other voices Edward Petherbridge;
Sound recordists Jon Sanders,
Chris Rees;
Dubbing mixer Mike Billing;
Titles Frameline;
Camera Nic Knowland,
Derek Waterman,
Dave Bridges;
Camera Assistants John Holland,
Max Marrable,
Dick Perrin;
Editor Mick Audsley;
Associate Producer Rodney Wilson;
Written, Produced & Directed by Mick Gold.
© Arts Council of Great Britain 1980.

Film segmentSchiele in Prison - ACE099.2
Schiele in Prison - ACE099.3
Schiele in Prison - ACE099.4
Schiele in Prison - ACE099.5
Schiele in Prison - ACE099.6
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