The year is 1776. Under Catherine the Great, Russia has annexed Poland, Lithuania and Prussia. Polish nobleman Boleslas Vorowski is the leader of a secret resistance movement that intends to free Poland from the yoke of imperialist Russia. After a failed uprising, Vorowski becomes a wanted man and goes into hiding. His guardian, the inventor Baron von Kempelen, devises a plan whereby he can leave the country in safety. Kempelen constructs a full-size automaton, in the shape of a Turkish chess player, inside which Vorowski can hide. The scheme goes badly wrong when the Empress Catherine, hearing about the marvellous chess playing machine, demands that it be brought to her imperial court… —filmsdefrance.com
Raymond Bernard was born in Paris on 10th October 1891, the youngest of three sons of the successful playwright Tristan Bernard. He began studying drama at the age of 15, and in 1913 he starred opposite Sarah Bernhardt in a stage play Jeanne Doré, a part written for him by his father. He reprised the role in Louis Mercanton’s 1915 film adaptation of the play, his one and only significant film appearance.
In 1916, Raymond Bernard joined the film production company Gaumont, working as assistant to director Jacques Feyder. He took over from Feyder the direction of Le Ravin sans fond (1917), which was scripted by his father. Thereafter, he gave up acting and pursued a career as a film director. He adapted several comedies written by his father, including Le Petit café (1919) which starred the popular comic actor Max Linder.
Raymond Bernard’s artistic and commercial breakthrough came when he formed the company Société des Grands Films Historiques with the writers Henry… read more