The Cold Heart

Something I never would have thought possible happened to me: While I was working on a memorial event for the Swiss film director Franz Schnyder I found a silent film that had been lost for over 80 years. It is the only film in which Franz Schnyder is seen as the leading actor. The young Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the famous pianist Artur Schnabel, directed and produced the film in 1933 with the help of friends in Berlin, but unfortunately he was not able to finish it before he was forced to leave Germany. While working on the film Karl Ulrich Schnabel expressed the wish to become a film director, but the war and emigration redirected his goals toward music. He became one of the most revered international piano pedagogues of the 20th century. Together with his daughter – and with you! – we want to finally finish the film that was so close to K.U. Schnabel’s heart and bring it to the big screen.

What our campaign is about

The film tells the fairytale «The Cold Heart» by Wilhelm Hauff, a story that is still very popular in the Black Forest today. It’s about the poor charcoal-burner Peter, who dreams of wealth and prestige, and thus gets caught between the Glass-man and Dutch-Michel. The latter, an evil forest spirit, promises Peter untold riches, but in return he must give him his heart. Unlike the later film versions of this fairy tale, this film stays very close to the original story. These film rolls are the only preserved copy and are unique as until now they have never been published, could never be shown in a movie theater. With your help this is about to change, but there is still much to do before this will be possible.

Digitizing and processing the film, composing the sound track, hiring an orchestra and renting a recording studio cost a lot of money that we will never be able to recouperate once the film has been completed. Making a profit should not be our goal. We want to offer to as many people as possible the opportunity to witness the magic of the movie. Please help us make it a reality!

This is what fascinates me:

Not just unearthing this hidden treasure today, but also the content of this particular treasure has captivated me.  Watch the enchanting clips from the film yourself. The fact that the film was not created in a big studio, but by young people who saw it as a personal, ambitious and imaginative project long ago moves me particularly as an independent filmmaker.

Your money will be used for:

With your support, we would like to complete the film in accordance with the original screenplay, restore it, preserve it and at last bring it to the big screen.

Although the actors were only able to speak through inserted tables in silent films, these films were never shown silently. In the cinemas a narrator read the boards, a sound artist made appropriate noises behind the screen, and a pianist or even a full orchestra filled in music. Since these people are no longer in the cinemas, we must create a sound track. We were able get the renowned film composer Robert Israel on board for this task. He knows and admires Karl Ulrich Schnabel’s  recordings and his masterclasses. Robert Israel will write the music for this film and record it as well, thus insuring an unforgettable experience for the spectators. In order to make sure that the film is easy to understand, we will augment the number of written tablets. Our graphic designer will draw these by hand – as befits the character of the film.

Why is it so important to support our project?

With your commitment you contribute to professionally preserving an important historical document, and also make it accessible to all. Together we write music and film history and we shine a spotlight on a hitherto unknown talent of great artists!

This is what you can get for your contribution:

Select whether you would like to share magic moments in the cinema with us or rather see it in your own home. Join us in the discovery of the world of the Cold Heart. Be one of the kind people with a warm heart or get yourself a cold heart from the Dutch-Michel. But the Glassman has a few surprises for you as well. Get hold of one of the hand-made boards with text from the movie, or maybe even a second of the movie?

If you want to know more about the film, do not hesitate to ask us. On our site you’ll find background information about the film and the restauration project, as well as the biographies of cast & crew!