Helena, Teil 1: Der Raub der Helena
(Helena, Part I: The Abduction of Helen)

Hektor killing the lion

Directed by Manfred Noa (1923/24)

CAST: (Trojans)
     Albert Steinrück (Priamos, King of Troy)
     Adele Sandrock (Hekabe, Wife of Priamos)
     Carl de Vogt (Hektor, Son of Priamos)
     Hanna Ralph (Andromache, Wife of Hektor)
     Wladimir Gaidarow (Paris, 2nd Son of Priamos)
     Ferdinand Martini (Agelaos, Acting Father of Paris)
     Albert Basserman (Aisakos, Trojan Seer)

CAST: (Spartans and other Greeks)
     Edy Darclea (Helena)
     Fritz Ulmer (Menelaos, King of Sparta, Husband of Helena)
     Karl Wüstenhagen (Agamennon, King of Mykene, Brother of Menelaos)
     Carlo Aldini (Achille)
     Karel Lamac (Patroklos, Achilles' Lover)

******

Based upon Homer's Illiad, this monumental effort by Manfred Noa and the Emelka Studio of the abduction of Helena and the fall of Troja failed to recoup its huge production costs. Common opinion said that Helena was eclipsed by Fritz Lang's Die Niebelungen. While Helena was more old fashioned than Die Niebelungen, it is hard to imagine that the movie going public would only go to one movie that year. For whatever reason, Emelka went into bankruptcy in 1925, and Manfred Noa and his films fell into oblivion. Of interest, Hanna Ralph, the actress who played Hektor's wife Andromache, appeared in Die Niebelungen as the ferocious Queen of Burgundy.

The film opens with a scene on the island of Kythera. The Greeks are invoking Aphrodite to grant the coming of spring. They put a myrtle crown on a dove and release it to find the most beautiful woman in the world for Adonis. In Sparta Helena is playing a harp when the dove arrives. Helena is mindful of the honor but is faithful to her husband, Menelaos, and doesn't want to go to Kythera. Menelaos is filled with pride and bades her go so that all men in the world will be jealous of him as Helena's husband.

Meanwhile, Priamos, King of Troja, prays for spring from Athena. Messengers announce that the oracle says that his prayers were successful, and Priamos is overjoyed. In the hills, Paris plays his pipes and welcomes spring. His father, Agelaos, wants Paris to go to Troja to meet his real father, Priamos. Agelaos had saved the child as a baby and raised Paris unbeknownst to his real parents. Paris has a dream in which Hermes tells him to give a golden apple to the most beautiful goddess. Hera appears and offers Paris the most power and wealth in the world if he chooses her. Athena offers him eternal glory and Aphrodite promises him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world and the most happiness. Paris gives the golden apple to Aphrodite. She sends him to Kythera and tells him to find the white dove. Menelaos gets a warning from the gods that if he loses Helena, there will be a long war. He falls into a rage.

Hera, furious that Paris chose Aphrodite, sends a cyclone to the festival which blows down a huge statue. Priamos is asked to send his son Hektor to ask the goddess why she is angry. Aisakos, the seer, warns Priamos that evil will befall Sparta if Hektor is sent to Kythera. Paris begs to be allowed to go. Priamos, Paris and Hektor

Helen asks an oracle is she should go to to Kythera. She sees a reflection of Paris in the sacred pool.

Athena, enraged that the envoys are going to Kythera, sends a thunderbold to destroy her statue.

Priamos asks Aisakos what is the matter, and he reiterates his warning. Helena leaves for Kythera and Menelaos gives her a crown that she is to award to the winner of a chariot race. Menelaos prepares the race course. He asks Thersites to arrange for him to beat Achille. However, Achille, enraptured by Helena's beauty, wins the race.

Paris' ocean voyage is stormy and he prays to arrive safely.

Menelaos arrives outside the sacred baths and tells Helena to leave as he is afaid. She tells him it is too late. Achille arrives and conducts her to the sacred barge, leaving Menelaos behind. Helen goes alone to Kythera to the Temple of Adonis. It is night, and the high priest tells Helena that she is affianced to Adonis. She enters the temple and sees a status of Adonis which looks like the vision she saw in the sacred baths.

Paris takes refuge on the island. He enters the temple and Helena mistakes him for Adonis. He tells her he is a simple shepherd whom Aphrodite has brought to find the most beautiful woman in the world. The next morning, covered wtih shame, Helena leaves the temple and sees the priests' barge coming towards the island. She reenters the temple and tells Paris that all of Greece will curse her because she is the queen of Sparta. He persuades her to leave with him on his ship. Alas, his sail is torn, so he steals the mantle from the statue of Aphrodite to use as a sail. The priests arrive and are outraged at this sacrilege, but Paris and Helena escape in time. The priests curse them and swear vengeance.

During this time, the princes of Greece have been enjoying a fete for the heroes of the race. Achille gets into a fight with Menelaos and a soldier arrives to say that Helena has been kidnapped. Achille says they must fight together against Troja to regain Helena.

An epidemic of ills befalls Troja and Priamos announces he will place a new god over all the other gods at Troy. He goes to the palace to await a sign. Two fishermen arrive complaining that lions have eaten their companions. More people arrive bearing the remains of a fishing vessel which has washed up on the beach. Agelaos tells Priamos that Paris is really Priamos' son whom he has rescued and raised since infancy. Now he fears that Paris is dead. The ship's broken mast with Aphrodite's mantle is brought in and Priamos is told of Paris' sacrilege with Aphrodite's mantle. Priamos begs the goddess to tell him what to do, and Hektor announces a chase after the lions in honor of Aphrodite. Before he leaves, Hekabe asks Hektor to sacrifice a lion in honor of her son who was put to death as an infant.

Hektor and Agelas

After their shipwreck Paris sees Troja in the distance and knows they are saved. He takes Helena to Agelaos' cave and tells her he has nothing to offer her as he is a poor shepherd. While she sleeps he fashions on image of her and takes to the sacred stone altar in the mountains.

Hektor takes off after the lions and kills one. He brings the lion's blood to the sacred stone. While there, Agelaos recognizes Paris and tells Hektor that he is his long-lost brother. They go back to Agelaos' cave. Several lions show up, and Agelaos prays to Helena thinking she is Aphrodite. She awakes and the lions lie at her feet in admiration.

Troja celebrates the victory over the lions. Priamos and Hekabe are overjoyed to meet their lost son. Helena arrives in a chariot drawn by the lions, and Priamos thanks her for saving them. Aisakos tells Priamos Helena will cause his downfall and Troja will be reduced to ashes. Enraged, Priamos has Aisakos put in irons and led away.

A Greek ship brings Agamemnon and Menelaos to Priamos. Menelaos demands that Priamos return Helena to him. Priamos implores Helena not to withdraw her protection from Troja. Helena doesn't want to leave Paris and says that she is the unique hope of his people. Menelaos dips an arrow in fire and threatens to shoot Helena. She tells him that Troja is her new home now. Menelaos shoots the arrow in the air which is a pre-arranged signal for Greek ships to attack the Trojan ships in the harbor. A huge fleet of them arrive and Menelaos tells Helena that the fire pressages the flames of Troja.

Priamos prays to the gods and the two sides fight in a sea battle. Hektor duels with Achilles and Priamos asks Helena to pray to Aphrodite to save Hektor. Instead she prays for her people not to be harmed. She tells Priamos it's impossible for her to perform miracles. Paris gets into a chariot and with the rest of the Trojans drives the Greeks back to their ships. Menelaos and Agamemnon vow to return and wreak vengeance upon Helena and Troja. Paris is carried aloft as the hero of the day, and Hektor congratulates him for saving his life. Full of love and gratitude, Helena takes the laurel wreath destined for Achille and crowns Paris with it instead. In the distance on a ship, Achille vows not to return to Greece without the laurel wreath.

END OF PART I

Helena, Teil II: Der Untergang Trojas

This movie has been restored by the Filmmuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum and has been shown on the Arte Channel.