In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.
Sergei M. Eisenstein
Emil Jannings is the doorman of the elegant Atlantic Hotel. He is proud of his uniform and function, and respected by his community. When he reaches the old age, he has difficulties to carry trucks and suitcases. The hotel manager decides to change his function to washroom attendant. This apparently simple action is enough to destroy him as a human being. He loses his self-respect and when his neighbor finds that he is janitor of the hotel, he loses the respect of his neighbors and friends.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A classic movie from the silent era that is well worth hunting out
Warning - Possible spoilers lie within.
This is the first silent movie I have watched in its entirety, having previously found myself becoming restless and distracted, I normally find them quite difficult to watch. I came across the Criterion edition of the movie in a large collection of Laserdiscs that I purchased recently, and decided to give it a try. I was speechless.
'The Last Laugh' (or 'The Last Man', as its translation would lead you to believe, is a touching story from director F.W. Murnau about an un-named Hotel Porter & Doorman (played excellently by Emil Jannings) who, through no fault of his own, is demoted to Lavatory attendant, and we hereby watch as his life collapses around him. It's an incredibly emotional story - during his downfall, as his friends and family mock him, Jannings' depressed, hunched-over figure can be painfully sad to watch. I found myself filling up in the scene when he finally hands his beloved porter's uniform over to the night watchman.
A landmark in the era of silent films, Murnau used some very clever camera tricks (such as smearing vaseline on the camera lens for 'dream' sequences). It was also one of the first films to use a completely free moving camera with no tripod, testimony to the success of this can be seen immediately in the first scene as the film starts. There are also no title cards in the film. Nor are they needed - The story is carried perfectly by the actors and on no occasion do you feel that you don't know what is going on.
I won't give anything away here, but there are some people that may feel the ending is a little out of place - However, I had grown so fond on Jannings' character that in a way, I was relieved to see the film move on from the final scene where he is sat hunched on the seat in the washroom - and for him to finally have 'The Last Laugh' so to speak :o)
If you have any interest in old cinema, and have not seen this, or just fancy a change from all of the samey Hollywood flicks being churned out right now, I suggest you hunt out a copy right away. Highly recommended.
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