Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses
(On the Ruins of Paradise)

Directed by Josef Stein (1920)
Based upon a book by Karl May
     Carl de Vogt (Kara ben Nemsi and Abdul Madik,
          Hussein Warrior)
     Meinhart Maur (Hadschi Halef Omar and Halef,
          Jesid Warrior, and Saduk)
     Gustav Kirschberg (Hussein, grandson of Prophet
          Mohammed, and Hassan Ardschir Mirza)
     Erwin Baron (Jesid, grandson of Abu Sufian, and Omram)
     Anna von Pahlen (Marah Durimeh)
     Cläre Lotto (Benda Ardschir Mirza)

Kara ben Nemsi, the intrepid world traveler, looks into a crystal in a cave in the Kurdistan wilderness. He falls into a deep trance during which a woman, Marah Durimeh, shows him the distant past of more than 1,000 years before. He finds himself on the banks of the Euphrates as a warrior for Mohammed's grandson Hussein. Mohammed had been driven from Mecca by the leader of the Koreischiten, Abu Sufian, who was afraid of fanatic pagans who had destroyed the arab national sanctuary. Hussein had a twin brother, Hassan, who died of poisoning. Hussein was named Caliph by the Persians. Going northwards to Mesopotamia, the Jesids forced Hussein to the ruins of the Sumerian empire of Babylon of the Obeidullah. This struggle still continues and Durimeh instructs Kara ben Nemsi to join with Hussein and become a martyr with him.

Hussein has had two tents erected in the shadows of the ruins. The Fatimiden warriors are dying of thirst and the only one left standing is Abdul Malik. He has lost all his arrows and he can do nothing. A young woman stabs herself so that all the warriors may drink her blood to save themselves. Meanwhile the Ommejaden Caliph gloats over their misery and orders their annihilation for the next morning.

Abdul Malik goes to the Euphrates and fills up water bags but is discovered by a Jesid slave. In escaping he climbs a wall and encounters Halef, a man of great empathy and compassion who offers him his protection. The Jesid find them and beat them up and leave them in the river. The next morning, some Ommejaden warriors shoot arrows at them and hit a small boy. Abdul Malik carries him back to the Fatimiden, and Hussein is moved by the courageous Halef. Abdul Malik is unable to bear the thought of Hussein's undignified death at the hands of the Ommejaden, and he tries to exchange clothes with Hussein so that Hussein will die the death of a warrior. In the ensuing fray, Hussein dies and the Ommejaden take out their anger on Abdul Malik and Halef and kill them.

Kara ben Nemsi awakes as if from a heavy dream. Centuries have passed and now he and Halef find that the Sunni Kurds have attacked the Persian Shiites. Kara and Halef come to the aid of the Persians but find that their leader, Prince Hassan Ardschir Mirza, has been critically wounded. The next morning Kara ben Nemsi discovers that the Persian officer Omran is being pursued by the Sunni Kurds and by a ruse, ben Nemsi manages to save the officer. It is obvious that there is a traitor in the camp, and ben Nemsi manages to unmask his identity as Saduk, the mute servant. He had fallen in love with the Prince's daughter and in declaring his love, was condemned to death. He was saved from execution but his tongue was ripped out, and the prince kept Saduk in his service.

In Täbris, a hunt was arranged and the prince was lured into a decayed cottage where he found the corpse of his father who was killed by a large bear. The prince now had to escape his homeland to be safe from his enemies. The film ends with the caravan with the prince and Kara ben Nemsi leaving the desert and going towards Bagdad and an unknown future.

This is the first of at least three Karl May movies that Carl appeared in with the next being Die Todeskarawane, followed by Die Teufelsanbeter. In real life, Carl was married to actress Cläre Lotto, who also appeared in Todeskarawane. The young actor Bela Lugosi made his second Karl May movie appearance in Teufelsanbeter.

My sincere thanks to the KARL MAY VERLAG for the use of these rare photos and filmscript.

No copies of Auf des Trümmern des Paradieses are known to exist.