Rex Ronney, a Brazilian writer, infiltrates a gang of alcohol smugglers in the Gulf of Finland as a source of inspiration and research for his next novel. In the midst of his adventures, Rex will also find love.
The midsummer of 1930 brought to Estonia the most spectacular film production of the interwar period, which was also the country’s first international coproduction. In cooperation with experienced German filmmakers, a large part of Waves of Passion (Wellen der Leidenschaft) was shot in Tallinn, around Loksa and on the island of Hara in late June and early July.
The stars of this story about alcohol smuggling and passionate love are Vladimir Gaidarov, a heartbreaker born in Poltava, Ukraine, and Ita Rina, a stunning Slovenian film star then making waves in the Central European film world. In mass scenes, local border guards and the people of the Loksa area were used as extras. Of the Estonian stage talents, Hugo Laur, Ants Eskola and Robert Rood appeared in the film.
Gaidarov, who had started his acting career at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1910s, was familiar to Estonian audiences from the stage, having guest-starred here in 1921 at the invitation of Paul Pinna, and even more so from the silver screen, having performed in German films made by famous directors such as Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and Carl Theodor Dreyer, while residing in Berlin between 1921 and 1933. Waves of Passion was Gaidarov’s debut (and only) work as a film director and producer, made under the aegis of his newly formed German production company, Wladimir Gaidarow-Film, and the Estonian company A/S Urania. The latter was also founded specifically for Waves of Passion by the then-representative of the U.S. Fox Corporation in Estonia, Richard Ley, along with Sigrid Ley and Roman Birkenberg, all residents of Tallinn and citizens of Estonia. Thus, it can be said that Waves of Passion was one of the first films made in Estonia under the supervision of a female producer (although not quite the first, as the adventure film Jüri Rumm, which had premiered a year earlier, was financed by Ida Jershova).
Waves of Passion was released in Estonia as a silent film, accompanied by live orchestral music, and premiered simultaneously in three major cinemas in Tallinn (Bi-Ba-Bo, Kungla and Rekord) for a whole week, which was quite unusual at the time. In Germany, but also in countries such as Argentina and Denmark, it was distributed with a synchronised soundtrack, consisting of sound effects and music composed by the Austrian composer Bert Reisfeld, and produced using a sound-on-disc system. It was in the Danish Film Institute’s Film Archive that this recording, long thought lost, was found in 2022 – albeit only in part, as four of the original eight discs have survived. The original negative of the film is lost, but the Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia preserves the only vintage film element known to survive: a contemporary Estonian nitrate release print with trilingual intertitles in Estonian, German and Russian.
This 4K digital restoration, completed in 2023 at the Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia, is accompanied by the partially surviving original soundtrack and music composed in 2023 by Cornelius Renz.
The restoration was realised with the support of “A Season of Classic Films”
, an initiative of ACE – Association des Cinémathèques Européennes
, part of European Commission’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme