"The lack of sound in a silent film often heightens the emotional intensity rather than diminishing it; such is the case in THE LAST LAUGH, a film that turns a rather mundane premise (an old man loses his job) into a visually potent and emotionally powerful experience. The absence of sound, and in fact, the near absence of words via title cards, is especially appropriate for the film's depiction of loneliness, despair, and mental stupor. Sound could add little, if anything at all, to the towering performance by Emil Jannings (who was actually much younger than his character), who conveys a wide array of emotions with only body gestures and facial expressions.To correct the technical info above, this Kino DVD edition is for ALL REGIONS. It also contains some extra material: an excerpt from the German version showing the "epilogue" title card in German, and a still gallery. The picture of this DVD looks exactly the same as that of the Criterion laserdisc made in '93 -- picture is in good shape overall, but the image often looks soft, and details are sometimes hard to make out. While playing the disc on a PC with a software DVD player, I have to turn on "force BOB mode" in order to eliminate the frequent motion artifacts. On my non-progressive scan standalone DVD player, however, I do not see any motion artifacts, but paused frames are sometimes unstable and jittery. The score on the LD, composed by Timothy Brock, is also used for the DVD. The running time of 91 minutes shown on the DVD case is incorrect. It runs 88 minutes, same as the Criterion LD. I was surprised that the PCFriendly software is included on this disc (and it will auto-run on your PC), but there is no DVD-ROM feature at all."
The Movie is Great, BUT the Buyer Beware!
Interplanetary Funksmanship | Vanilla Suburbs, USA | 10/06/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I concur with most of what is written in the reviews below: This indeed is one of the greatest silents ever made; Karl Freund's sauntering camerawork and lighting are gorgeous; Keith Brock's score is a nice fit, and; the transfer is from a well-preserved print.
That said, I did not get to find all that out, despite owning the DVD for over two months. Why?
Well, for one, I just got discharged from active duty service in the Army. I lived in a barracks at Fort Dix, NJ, and watched DVD movies on my laptop computer. So, after buying this gem of a flick, I rushed back to my room to watch it.
Unfortunately, Kino Video -- a company that wants to be noted for its sterling film preservation efforts and highest quality transfers -- was not content with simply letting me watch this disc. No, instead, Kino used this disc as a veritable Trojan horse to smuggle a program called "PC Friendly DVD" onto my hard drive. Naturally, there was no labelling at all on the packaging, to let me know that Kino had ulterior motives, but I nonetheless loaded the program onto my hard drive, that I may watch this movie.
Ah, but there's one more catch: Once the software downloaded, a pop-up window came along to add insult to injury. Seems that even though I let Kino download a program onto my laptop without my consent, I then needed to register the damn thing before I could watch this movie! Talk about gall!
Problem was: My barracks room did not have an internet connection, so I couldn't register their software, thus was I verboten from being able to view this movie until I arrived back at home, sweet home, back in Texas, and was able to watch it on my home DVD player.
I talked to an Army buddy who bought Kino's release of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," and he was unable to watch it on HIS laptop computer. He waited three weeks for his package to arrive from amazon, only to find that the insidious product registration requirements of the alleged "PC Friendly" DVD player made it impossible to view the movie.
Troops in the sands of Iraq don't have internet access for their laptop computers, either."
Tom Goyens | 04/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is truly revolutionary. Pioneer camera man Freund uses moving shots to evoke the inner turmoil of the proud hotel porter Jannings. Sadly, he is demoted and his life turns to darkness and nightmares. Beautiful imagery, brilliant acting, and a magnificent feat of Master Murnau. This movie radiates like a 90 minute continuous Expressionist painting. I highly recommend Friedrich Murnau's work. This 1924 film is originally titled "Der letzte Mann" or "The Last Man.""
Nobody knows you when you're down and out.....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 04/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film at a time when I was kind of down and out, and it really meant something at the time. It's one of the most beautiful, sad, haunting, and innovative silent films ever made. It is also famous for the fact it is told (except for one) without title cards. It is told with nothing but visual imagery. It concerns itself with a doorman who ends up being demoted to washroom attendant. The man (played brilliantly by Emil Jannings) is very proud of himself and his station, then is told that he is being demoted simply to make room for the young guard. You really feel for Jennings's character. How often are you passed over for a promotion or feel that your long tenure of service is not appreciated? Murnau treats the subject with a deep humanism, making the film more powerful.
The cinematography is outstanding. Murnau's framing is immaculate, and it's to his credit that his visual style is so acute that he can tell this story with only images. There is only one title card, but it's a rather self conscious one, and it leads to the "happy" ending, which is so overplayed and boisterous one thinks that Murnau is just placing it as a farce. I admit I don't really like it very much, but it doesn't ruin the film at all. This is one of my all time favorite silent films, and my favorite Murnau film."
Life and Tragedy
Brad Baker | Atherton, Ca United States | 12/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"1924's "The Last Laugh" is a short, simple, direct tale of an elderly hotel doorman. Becoming complacent, he is smugly replaced by a younger man, and assigned to work in the washroom. Shocked and ashamed, he steals his old uniform to hide his fate from family and friends. A whirlwind of symbolism, the opening scene dances down a moving, mechanical elevator. Director F.W. Murnau tosses in multiple-image montages(all composed in the camera), hallucinatory lighting effects, scenes filmed through glass, and what is probably the first portable, hand-held camera shots. "The Last Laugh" was written by Carl Mayer. Paul Rotha's "Film Till Now" relates that Mayer "was a careful, patient worker. He would take days over a few shots. He would rather return the money than be forced to finish a script the wrong way. Film mattered most. His little money he gave away to make others happy". "The Last Laugh" was an unequaled example of universal co-operation: Director F.W. Murnau, cameraman Karl Freund(who filmed "Dracula" 7 years later), Carl Mayer, and the great German actor Emil Jannings. "The Last Laugh" DVD contains the unusual "happy", alternate ending, chapter stops, and several photo stills. After "Faust" in 1926, Murnau was whisked away to America, where he bought extravagant autos and a racing yacht. Talking movies emerged in 1927, but Murnau's final effort, "Tabu", contained no dialogue. F.W. Murnau's sound-film talents will never be known. A car crash took his life near Santa Barbara in 1931. Greatness suddenly became memory. But oh, what a memory."