Reviews

The Last Laugh

4

When it unspooled back in 1924, this German silent had Hollywood eyes a-poppin' with its groundbreaking dramatic dazzle. The story follows an ageing hotel doorman (Emil Jannings) who wears his pride on the sleeve of his grand uniform. But when relegated to a lowly toilet attendant, he tries to steal back his uniform and his dignity - with tragic consequences.

Nowadays, despite feeling like an eerie anticipation of the Nazis' rise, the tale is less interesting than the telling. Bolstered by Jannings' screen-filling theatrical bustle, director FW Murnau and DoP Karl Freund add new chapters to cinema's grammar-book, their camera shimmying through an eatery, fogging into dream sequences and tracking clean through a glass window. They needed just one title-card - to mock the studio's enforced happy ending. This `unchained camera' would soon hoist the pair across The Pond to start making films on Tinseltown turf. But after helming his masterpiece Sunrise, Murnau was lost in a fatal car crash at the age of 42. Few of his movies remain, so make the most of 'em.

Film Details

  • tbc
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: March 1st 2004

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