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The story of an amou fou : The bookworm and would-be poet Lorenz Lubota is hit by a horse-drawn carriage. Confused and disturbed, he falls in love with the beautiful driver, chases after her like a phantom and loses himself more and more in a surreal dream world. His madness turns him into a fraud and burglar, but rescue is at hand in the form of the bookbinder's daughter Marie...
Murnau locates his drama somewhere between a mangy working-class apartment and the shabby elegance of the petit bourgeoisie, which contrasts the objectified reality with the subjective perception of the protagonist with his intoxicating moments of atmosphere, which culminate in a »tumbling day«. Ernst Ulitzsch recognised: »FW Murnau, this greatest hope among the generation of young directors, has built the scenic framework simply and realistically, based on designs by Hermann Warm. … (His) real talent begins in the scenes in which he converts the hectic imagination of a frightened person, the hallucinations of a hallucinating brain into images and lets inanimate things manifest themselves. The street following Lorenz Lubota was one of the strongest impressions one had in film for a long time.« (Film-Kurier, 1922)