Extase tells the story [by Viteslav Nezval] of Eva (Hedy Kiesler [later Lamarr]), who on her bridal night finds her husband (Rogoz) unequal to the occasion. She returns to her father (Andre Nox), a breeder of horses, and attempts to forget her chagrin in an active outdoor life. One day, while she is bathing, her mare runs away, carrying off her pajamas on its back. The nude Eva is rushing through the woods after her horse when a young engineer (Pierre Nay) at work nearby on a railroad, meets her and restores both the horse and the pajamas.
Soon the handsome young man awakens in Eva all the pent-up forces of her ardent nature, and that same night she goes to his cabin during a violent storm. Close-ups of the heroine’s face shown during her emotional stress are extremely audacious.
The husband returns to reclaim his wife, but finds it is too late. In driving away from Eva’s home he is waylaid by the engineer, who asks for a lift. During the course of the journey the engineer-lover displays a string of pearls which are recognized by the husband as his wife’s.
There is almost no dialog, though there is music and sound. All the big moments are played silently, to enhance their effect. The camerawork is superb. Every little nuance in the scenic composition and the lighting has a studied and vital meaning. The cast is uniformly good, and Kiesler, young, talented and beautiful in form and face, will certainly bear watching by Hollywood producers.
[Review is from the film’s showing in Paris, soon after its Prague premiere. Cuts had already been made for French release; in Germany the pic was banned outright.]