A whispering campaign managed to get started to the effect that the picture has to do with the subject of mannish femmes. The film [from Christa Winsloe’s novel The Child Manuela] really has to do with no such subject, it’s merely an overlong and sometimes dull psychological study of a schoolgirl’s crush on her teacher. The picture is very arty and dry.
From a strictly artistic standpoint the film is a splendid accomplishment. It is laid in a Prussian military school for girls, a hard, restricted, colorless life with the teachers unbending and the principal (Emilia Unda) a veritable demon for hardness. Into this comes Manuela (Hertha Thiele), a sensitive, lonely child who finds sympathy and kindness only from one teacher, Fraulein von Bernburg (Dorothea Wieck), with the natural result that she idolizes this teacher.
It’s poignant and clearly outlined, with a last reel actually exciting. But so slow, so painstaking. Acting is almost perfect, despite almost entirely by people new to films.