Nivelli as a Writer

As mentioned before, filmmaking was a risky business and where possible, Nivelli was trying to play it safe. When it came to the screenplay, most of his films stood on solid ground story wise – they were based on written works of known and experienced writers. But he did not shy away from writing himself. His film “The Clown’s Daughter” (Die Tochter des Bajazzo 1919) was based on his own script. It was also reported in the press that he wrote two other screenplays with the intention of producing them as films – “World Peace” (Der Weltfrieden, 1919) in collaboration with Helmuth Ortmann (screenplay writer of “The Outcasts”) and “The Illusion” (Die Illusion, 1925).

But his main writing effort focused on a novel which he wrote in his native language, Russian, called “Hope – Erring Nations” (Esperance – Irrende Völker, 1922). Nivelli’s dream of a better world first emerged in his film “The Outcasts” (Die Geächteten 1919), in which he introduced the issue of anti-Semitism, with the intention of educating the audience to be more tolerant. In his novel, he further explored this issue in a tale of history repeating itself – a Jewish diplomat who strives to reconcile conflicts, falls victim to racial hatred, just like his forefathers who were persecuted by the Inquisition in 15th century Spain. The novel maintains that racial hatred is the root of all evil and advocates for a “parliament of nations” as a tool of pacifism.

The press reviewed the novel mentioning that it would soon be adapted into a film. It is possible that the novel was only published as a manuscript because a printed copy could not be found.

“Thought provoking ideas along these lines are contained in the Russian novel “Esperance” by Max Nivelli. It deals with this theme that was also taken up by Bertha von Suttner in her novel “Down with Weapons!” (Die Waffen nieder, 1889) in a more encompassing way. It is the history of hope for a better world in which all swords are broken and guns buried…  the novel “Esperance”, which is about to be filmed, … shows erring nations but also the road ahead out of this labyrinth which will lead to a better future: a true parliament of nations – that is what true pacifism, which takes pity on the weak, is all about.” Film-Kurier, 24.10.1922