Last Laugh, The (1924)

Not only is this cinematic genius but look at that 'stach!
Not only is this cinematic genius but look at that 'stach!

Genre: Silent Avant-Garde Drama (Germany)

Starring: Emil Jannings (The Blue Angel; Waxworks), Maly Delschaft

Directed By: F.W. Murnau (Faust; Nosferatu)

Overview: A hotel doorman is demoted and faces humiliation at the hands of his neighborhood and hotel patrons alike. Considered 'a mournful dramatization of the frustration and anguish of the universal working class' this is surely a timeless classic.

Performance:

Without a doubt, this director is turning out to be one of my favorites. So much of what he touched has turned into a masterpiece! I strongly urge anyone to watch this man's films. As for the hero of our tale? What a role, what an amazing role! It's a character study, it had better be well acted.
Rating: 10

Cinematography:

I'm not certain how to convey the importance of the look of this film to you for the visuals. At the height of this expressionist age of film, Murnau does introspective dream sequences, haunting and exaggerated special effects that hit the nail bang on, and with the cinematographer's way of making every set grand, every scene art... I was floored. The fact that it's ancient also reminds us of the innovations this film began for the entire industry. Seriously, go out and see this. My Lord!
Rating: 10

Script:

Disappointing. We know of the wedding by the icing on the cake. There's a letter telling the porter that he's been reassigned, and the ending has a blurb before the Epilogue, that's it. It's great that there's no intertiles because we're made to understand what's said by context, but twice I was confused as to what was implied, and it frustrated me to know that a line of text would have solved it.
Rating: 6

Plot:

The story itself is a man's outward descent into becoming a mockery, and his inward descent into Pride. This tale is a lesson in humility, and it is very clear: people are cruel and Pride is a sin for just this reason. Unfortunately, there are major changes in the Epilogue and though I still liked it, it could have got a much higher score if it was more visceral as it was throughout.
Rating: 8

Mood:

The theme blends with the cinematography quite well. The dream sequence tells us so much about the character in a wonderfully surrealistic way. The elaborate uniform traded in for a plain white coat, the looming buildings, the perfect music, all shows us exactly what our Porter is thinking. In all ways, this film is about mood, with just enough symbolism to make you think and just enough down to earth 'feel like you're there with our poor hero' to let it carry you thoughtlessly on. Tremendous.
Rating: 9

Pride. Crushing miserable Pride...
Pride. Crushing miserable Pride...

Overall Rating: 86% (With A Work This Good, You'll Have The Last Laugh)
Aftertaste:

I'm going to own this. It's that good. This movie made me search for everything this director ever made (a total of 11 films that have survived the ages). I've compiled the list and will see them soon. This F.W. Murnau is insanely great, and I want a little collection of his works. Will knowing who this is when no one else does make me a snob? Let's hope so... Oh right, the Pride lesson... Err..

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Have you seen the Kino 6-DVD set of Murnau films? It includes some of the films on your wish list... Check it out - but the Kino website has a better deal than Amazon (25% off).
http://www.kino.com/video/item.php?product_id=1161

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