Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Last Laugh |
Restored Deluxe Edition
Actor: Emil Jannings
Director: F.W. Murnau
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
Two-DVD Deluxe Edition - The crowning achievement of the German expressionist movement is F.W. Myrna's THE LAST LAUGH. Emil Jennings stars in the bleak fable of an aging doorman whose happiness crumbles when he is relieved... more »
Der Letzte Mann
Sean William Menzies | 10/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I love Kino. I really do. But they really need somebody to make executive decisions for them, because this two disc set is yet another glorious muddle.
What I mean is this: the image is stunning, cleaner and more vivid than the previous release, Giuseppe Becce's 1924 score is gorgeously recorded and matches perfectly, and the making of documentary is especially informative (in German with the subtitles of your choice). BUT the opening titles and Epilogue cards from the English print are used while everything else is in German (with subtitles that hold on the bottom of the screen for literally a fraction of a second, one needs to pause the player to read the damned thing). Why has Kino not learned from Criterion and just given us the original German print with optional English subtitles? Why must we go through this everytime with them? The beautiful release of Nosferatu last year was also flawed; that two disc set contains TWO copies of the film, the original German and then one with video generated English titles, both with optional subtitles (???).
So I really like this set for the image and sound and documentary, but Kino really need to stop building a horse by committee and get someone to make a solid decision to just release these great silent films as they exist on film and not try to make everyone happy. I think anyone looking to purchase films by Murnau knows that they're getting themselves into. So far, this release is a little more organized than the Nosferatu release, so hopefully by the time they get round to Faust they'll have got it right.
A word on the film. Der Letze Mann really was a ground-breaker, due to its shocking use of camera movement and lack of intertitles. But the end is really utterly grotesque, a deliberate contrivance that lead actor Jannings convinced Murnau to film and producer Eric Pohmer (sic?) made him tack on. The disgusting wealth and gluttony that ends the film is not only hypocritical in light of the fact that it was the very same disgusting wealth and gluttony that ruined the Old Porter's life to begin with, but it is revolting and creepy as well. Money is useful, but it does not buy happiness. There is no resolution with the Daughter, despite that their great love for each other has been established at the beginning of the film. Even the filmmaking in the "improbable" Epilogue is perfunctory; Murnau flourishes in the main body of the film, absolutely flourishes, so it is worth getting this set to revel in the first hour and fifteen minutes. I always turn it off where Murnau intended it to end, with the final fate of the Last Man.
An example of Murnau at his best
calvinnme | 08/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"F.W. Murnau didn't have a typical storyline - he could do pure Gothic horror as in Nosferatu, social commentary as in Phantom, fantasy with a religious theme as in Faust, and the redemption of love as in Sunrise. What ties Murnau's work together is its imagery. He excelled at it as few directors ever did. "The Last Laugh" is a tale about an older man who is proud of his position as doorman at a prominent German hotel. One night he has had to carry some heavy luggage as part of his duties and he takes a break. As luck would have it, his supervisor sees him taking this short rest and assumes the worst. The next day the old man is reassigned to the job of washroom attendant. He does his best to hide his change of position from his friends, but they find out anyway. To make matters worse, they assume he's always been lying about his job and that he has thus always been a washroom attendant. At this point you might wonder - why exactly is this film named The Last Laugh? There is a somewhat tacked on ending that is the foundation of the film's title. I won't spoil it for you.
This is a two disc edition because there are two versions of the film included. The extras include a 40 minute documentary on the making of The Last Laugh that was included with the last edition of the film that was in The F.W. Murnau Collection (Nosferatu/The Last Laugh/Faust/Tabu/Tartuffe). I thought that the video was perfectly clear on that version, so I'm curious to see what further remastering has done for the visual clarity of the film. The documentary is well-done and quite detailed. This somewhat surprised me since if Kino has a flaw in its DVD productions it is this - it sometimes misses the point entirely of multimedia presentation and of the extra space DVD affords you for extra features. I personally want commentary and featurettes to go with these films, not the text notes that Kino often includes that leave me - at age 50 - squinting at the TV screen."
Interesting, But From From Murnau's Best
The Movie Man | Maywood, New Jersey USA | 10/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"During the period of recovery after World War I, the German film industry was at its height, but tough economic times made it difficult for filmmakers to compete with the expensive, lavish features produced in Hollywood. Filmmakers of the German UFA studio developed their own distinctive style by using symbolism and milieu to add mood and deeper meaning to a movie. This style came to be known as German Expressionism.
"The Last Laugh" is a 2-disc set showcasing F.W. Murnau's 1924 silent German Expressionist drama. The film stars Emil Jannings as an aging doorman whose happiness dissolves when he is relieved of the duties and uniform that have for years been the foundation of his identity and pride. Through Jannings' impressive performance, "The Last Laugh" becomes more than the plight of a single doorman. It is constantly referred to as one of the most poetic and sad dramatizations of the frustrations of the working class. As a result of his work in "The Last Laugh," Jannings became one of the world's most acclaimed film actors during the 1920's.
In the making of the film, three different camera negatives were exposed and edited. One would be used for striking prints for the German release, another for general international distribution, and the third for American release. The surviving German negative was reconstructed utilizing material from several sources. This Deluxe Edition contains the new restored version, the unrestored export version, a 40-minute making-of featurette, and a new stereo recording of the original score by Giuseppe Becce. The ending contrasts sharply with the tone of the rest of the movie, and may have been influenced by Hollywood's "happy ending" formula."