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Last Laugh [Import]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Emil Jannings
  • Directors: F.W. Murnau
  • Format: AC-3, Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled, Import
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Mongrel Media
  • Release Date: Sept. 30 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001CD6HQA

Product Description

Amazon.ca

One of the most influential silent films of all time, F.W. Murnau's street-drama tragedy (of an aging hotel porter who loses his job to a younger, more dashing man and suffers the humiliation of being demoted to washroom attendant) is a compendium of silent film techniques handled with a new sophistication. When the hearty, rather pompous Emil Jannings loses the dignified uniform of his station, he transforms into a scared little man scurrying through the shadows to hide his demotion from friends and family. Murnau captures the humiliation and calamitous fallout from the demotion (he loses not just his self-respect, but the esteem of his neighbors and even his apartment) in haunting, expressionistic images that magnify the petty events into tragic melodrama. The story seems a little extreme even for the genre but it's never less than a harrowing, subjective experience, even with the rather fanciful happy ending tacked on the end of it. Most famously, Murnau throws the camera into motion--one of his most famous shots takes the viewers up an elevator, through the grand hotel lobby, and out the revolving glass door in a single smooth shot--and it hasn't stopped moving since.

Kino's DVD features a wonderful score by Timothy Brock and the Olympia Chamber Orchestra as well as the credits montage sequence from the German release. Production stills are also included among the supplements. --Sean Axmaker


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By D. Hutchins on July 9 2004
Format: DVD
Sometime in the early '70s, I watched a weekly UHF series, which showcased cinematic masterpieces. It was hosted by Charles Champlain. After he introduced the particular film for that week, he proceeded to play the film itself. Afterward, there was some discussipon about the film that was just shown.
Some were titles I was familiar with; others were unknown to me. But every one of them were cinematic works of art. I remember seeing "The Cabinet Of Doctor Caliagri", Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" and "Ivan The Terrible, Part I", Cocteau's "Beauty And The Beast", as well as Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". I remember the level of film-making quality, and thinking I never saw anything prior to what I saw in these films, to compare to what these films offered. They were not just thought-provoking, but they, very often, had a human or a dramatic, aspect to them which most commercial films never captured. I was enjoying the beginning of an education in the history of cinema.
Another treat in that film series was Murnau's "The Last Laugh". It wasn't just the story of a working man, and what happened to him when the source of his pride and satisfation was gone, which gripped me. It was also about how the film depicted the "neighbors" and "friends", who took delight in the doorman'ss humiliation, and how other employees, except for one, were more concerned about their own loyalty to the hotel, rather than expressing personal sympathy. It's a very human story, told in a very simple, but occasionally expressionistic, way.
Other reviewers have remarked about the fluid camera work, and the fact of Murnau's using just one title card. I agree that both of those elements contribute to making "The Last Laugh" a memorable film. I'd also add that Emil Jannings should get credit for his stunning, tragic performance. Don't miss this film!
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Format: DVD
F. W Murnau works are rare things - he made very few compared to other directors of his day, and many of those he did make have been lost. The reason he made so few can perhaps be understood by watching The Last Laugh. Like Chaplin, Kubrick and Leone, the effort that went into a single picture was the same effort another director might spread across ten. Nosferatu, his famous Dracula story, is great, and i hear his Faust and Sunrise are also things to behold - but many regard "The Last Laugh" as his masterwork, and also one of the greatest movies of all time. Lillian Gish once said that she never approved of the talkies - she felt that silents were starting to create a whole new art form. She was right, but the proof of this can not be seen in the work of Griffith, who was her frequent collaborator, and who she probably was thinking about when she made this statement - but in the work of German director F. W Murnau.
D. W Griffith is usually shunned for his stance on racial issues and praised for his abilities as an influential film artist. I believe he doesn't deserve this praise - and this movie is why. Not only was Griffith about as subtle as a migraine, but watching a Griffith silent, you get more words than images. There's a title card telling you what is about to happen in every image before it does. The images themselves are almost unnecessary - his style is more literary than cinematic. The difference between watching Griffith's Intolerance and watching F. W Murnau's The Last Laugh is like the difference between watching a silent comedy by Hal Roach and one by Charlie Chaplin.
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By Brad Baker on Dec 4 2003
Format: DVD
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.
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