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Last Laugh (Full Screen) [Import]
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The Last Laugh
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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A wonderful integration of poignant musical composition, visual expressionism, and an O. Henry like plot twist into a cinematic masterpiece.Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Levi Villarreal
F. W. Murnau showed the world with this movie, that silent cinema is able to express everything - even the tiniest, almost unnoticeable emotions. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2003 by balaazs
This is a good silent film with a universal message that provokes thought.
The reviewers have pretty much given you the story here, but there are some interesting scenes that... Read more
What struck this viewer: No title cards, except for the one announcing the "happy" ending; the camera told the story. The amazing city scenes. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2003
This film is a masterpeice. There are no title cards (just one); nevertheless, the way this film was directed, leaves very little need for them. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by Andi
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