On the surface, THE KAISER OF CALIFORNIA appears to be a cinematic anomaly: an epic Western produced under the state-controlled cinema of the Third Reich. But the film’s novelty value is quickly eclipsed by its dazzling visual artistry: striking compositions and stunning location photography worthy of John Ford (who was still three years away from making his signature Western, Stagecoach). In telling the story of German-born pioneer John Sutter, actor/director Luis Trenker returned to the awe-inspiring vistas and daring feats of rock-climbing that had made his “mountain films” such a sensation. The result is a film whose style is deeply Germanic and spectacularly American at the same time, virtually unseen in the United States, prior to this 2K restoration by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung.
Viktoria von Ballasko
Directed by Luis Trenker