Mime Misu: Film History Series

Mime Misu, “In Nacht und Eis (In Night and Ice)”, 1912, Written and Directed by Mime Misu, Film Runtime 42 Minutes, Continental-Kunstfilm, Berlin, Germany,

Remastered with English Subtitles and Score by Swiss Composer Christophe Sturzenegger

Born in January of 1888 at the county seat of Botosani in the northern part of Romania, Misu Rosescu was a pantomime artist, ballet dancer, film actor and director. He was nephew to the prominent writer Rahel Levin Varnhagen whose home became a center for the intellectual and political figures of German culture. Born into a family of musicians, artists and performers, Rosescu made his stage debut as a child performing ballet and pantomime.

Rosescu’s many talented performances were recognized and gained him free entrance into the Bucharest Art Academy. During his studies, he was assigned to the Royal National Theatre in the capital city of Bucharest. After his graduation with honors, Rosescu began a successful career appearing in theatrical performances at the provincial theaters of Romania. After his performance at the 1900 World Fair in Paris, Rosescu established his own theatrical production company and toured Berlin, Budapest, Vienna and London. 

Misu Rosescu, now using the name Mime Misu, entered into the growing film industry. In Paris, he was initially employed by Lux, a film production company located in the 14th arrondissement, and later at Pathé Frères which was becoming the world’s largest film equipment and production company. In 1912, Misu signed with Berlin’s newly established Continental=Kunstfilm which had just begun to release a mix of comedies, melodramas and documentaries. mis

Through Continental-Kunstfilm, Mime Misu wrote and directed three films in his first year. The 1912 silent film “Das Gespenst von Clyde (The Ghost of von Clyde)” was a media story of Count Arthur Hamilton who died in the British Castle of Clyde under mysterious circumstances. Misu’s 1912 “In Nacht und Eis (In Night and Ice)” was a silent adventure-disaster film depicting the recent sinking of RMC Titanic. Having achieved some success with his drama-documentary narrative style, Misu made the 1912 “Das Mirakel (The Miracle)”. Based on the thirteenth-century temptation legend of Sister Beatrice, the film later appeared under the title “Das Marienwunder: Eine alte Legende (The Miracle of Mary: An Old Legend)” due to legal rulings in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Misu made one more film in Germany, the 1913-1914 “Der Excentric Club”, for Projektions-AG Union, a Frankfurt film production company that soon moved to Berlin, the new center of the German film industry. He traveled to the United States where he made one film, the 1914 “Money God”, under his personal production company Misugraph-Film. Lacking support in the United States just as the First Great War began, Misu returned to Europe and settled with his new wife, Bertha, in Berlin’s inner-city district of Wilmersdorf. In 1915, he directed in the Netherlands his last film, a disaster film of a sinking ship entitled “Ontmaskerd (Unmasked)”; the credits list his birth name, Misu Rosecu, as director.

Mime Misu traveled to the United States every year from 1915 to 1917. He maintained office space in Berlin for his production company Misugraph-Film until 1921. There is, however, no record of any artistic activity from 1915 to 1921. In 1921, Misu apparently misrepresented himself as to his involvement with the Famous Players Film Company, a film venture owned by Paramount Pictures’ founder Adolph Zukor. This led to the publishing of their exchanged letters in Berlin’s film journal Fil-Kurier. An accomplished stage performer and director of six films, (Mime) Misu Rosescu died in Antwerp, Belgium in the summer of 1953. 

Among the films in his career, Mime Misu’s best known work is the 1912 “In Nacht und Eis’, the earliest surviving film depiction of the RMS Titanic disaster. Camera work was done by Willy Hameister, Emil Schünemann and Victor Zimmermann. Most of its footage was shot in a glasshouse studio inside the courtyard of Continental-Kunstfilm’s offices at 123 Chausseestrasse. Other footage was shot in Hamburg and, possibly, aboard the Hamburg-docked German ocean liner Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. 

At a running time of thirty-five minutes, “In Nacht und Eis” was shot in black and white with various scenes tinted to increase their impact. The film starred actors Waldemar Hecker as the telegrapher, Otto Rippert as the Captain, and Ernst Rückert as the First Officer. The Berlin Fire Department provided the flood waters necessary for the scenes of the Titanic’s sinking. “In Nacht und Eis” was considered a lost film until February of 1998. At that time, the German film archivist Horst Lange, after reading an article discussing this loss, informed the newspaper that he possessed a print of the film.

Note: The above video of “In Nacht und Eis” is from the Titanic Officers site which contains a multitude of articles on the ship’s officers and other aspects of the Titanic and its sinking. The Titanic Officers website can be found at: https://www.titanicofficers.com/articles.html

For those film buffs who are purists, there is a restored silent version, sans soundtrack, on the Internet Archive. This slightly shorter film with a runtime of thirty-four minutes is located at:  https://archive.org/details/silent-in-nacht-und-eis

Top Insert Image: Mime Misu, “Das Mirakel”, 1912, Publicity Photo on Cardstock

Bottom Insert Image: Mime Misu, “In Nacht und Eis”, 1912, (Otto Rippert and Ernst Rüchert) Film Clip Photo

Leave a Reply