Der Zwerg / Eine florentinische Tragödie

“Reflection” is a short film that arose out of the amalgamation of characters from the operas The Dwarf and A Florentine Tragedy, both by Alexander von Zemlinsky. It tells the tale of what is apparently a love triangle, concentrating on the themes of love, deceit and identity, and explores the relationships between the characters portrayed by Zemlinsky in a modern reinterpretation. 

After a thorough analysis of all the aspects and components of both operas, we felt it was appropriate to make a promotional short film focussing on the concept of deceit, which is central to both operas.

 • In A Florentine Tragedy, Bianca deceives her husband, Simone, by having an affair with the Prince.
• The Prince tries to deceive Simone by convincing him that his presence in the latter's house is due to other reasons than the wish to spend time with Blanca.  • Simone deceives both Bianca and the Prince by pretending to suspect nothing and holding a polite conversation, though his intention is to kill the Prince.
• In The Dwarf, the Infanta deceives the Dwarf by making him believe she returns his love.
• The Dwarf is deceived with regard to his physical appearance; his perception of himself differs from other people's perception of him. 

In connection with the concept of deceit, we also deal with the question of identity, two aspects of which are underlined:  

• The Dwarf has a mistaken conception of himself. His identity is not what he believes it to be and the discovery of this fact, at the end of the work, has terrible and far-reaching implications: it leads to his death. 
• Alexander von Zemlinsky, the composer of both operas, seems to have created various characters with whom he identifies in one way or another. The Dwarf embodies the identity of Zemlinsky as perceived by others while the merchant, Simone, embodies the identity Zemlinsky would have liked for himself.

By juxtaposing these two concepts, we observe a certain duality. Four cases emerge:

• a woman (Bianca) who has two men (her husband, Simone, and her lover, the Prince)
• a woman (the Infanta Donna Clara) who has two faces (she loves / does not love the Dwarf)
• a dwarf who has two identities (perceived and real)
• a composer who has two identities (what he is  ̶the Dwarf  ̶ and what he would like to be  ̶the merchant)

Besides including a degree of deceit among the characters, we also sought to deceive the viewer with a twofold objective in mind: 

• to generate added interest
• to enable the viewer to identify with the way the characters in the operas experience deceit. 

All this led us to use a device which, in view of our central concept and objectives, was ideal: we placed a character suffering from dissociative identity disorder at the centre of our story.

In stylistic terms, we wanted the short to be dramatic but modern and to remain realistic: we used the music, the type of shots, the colours, and so on, to evoke tension and intrigue so as to narrate the tale in an appropriate way, while affording glimpses of the complex themes and feelings present in Zemlinsky's operas. 

Students:  Silvia Philbrick, Ignacio Castanera and Pol Mas 
Students in the third year's class "Projectes II".
 These projects have been developed under the tutelage of Josep M. Marimon and Elisabeth Ferrandiz, responsable of the Audiovisual and Graphic department.