F.W. Murnau – Der Letzte Mann AKA The Last Laugh (1924)


Jannings’ character, the doorman for a famous hotel, is demoted to washroom (bathroom) attendant, as he is considered too old and infirm to be the image of the hotel. He tries to conceal his demotion from his friends and family, but to his shame, he is discovered. His friends, thinking he has lied to them all along about his prestigious job, taunt him mercilessly while his family rejects him out of shame. The man, shocked and in incredible grief, returns to the hotel to sleep in the bathroom where he works. The only person to be kind towards him is the night watchman, who covers him with his coat as he falls asleep. Continue reading

F.W. Murnau – Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

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In this fable-morality silent film masterpiece (which is subtitled “A Song of Two Humans”), an evil temptress (Margaret Livingston) bewitches a farmer (George O’Brien) and convinces him to murder his neglected wife (Janet Gaynor). After he comes to his senses – before he is about to kill his wife – the married couple renew their love in the city. Continue reading

F.W. Murnau – Der Brennende Acker AKA Burning Soil (1922)


When farmer Rog dies, his son Peter stays, but Johannes can not be satisfied with such a condition (and servant Maria’s love) and finds a job as old Count Rudenberg’s secretary. His ambition leads him to charm Gerda, the Count’s unique daughter. But when he discovers that Count’s second wife Helga will soon inherit a field that only he knows his underground is full with petroleum, he changes his allegiance… Greed and death. Continue reading

F.W. Murnau – Der Gang in die Nacht aka Walking into the Night (1921)

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In the earliest surviving film by Murnau, a famed doctor strays from his wife and is seduced by a dancing girl. The dancer and her new conquest move to live in a village where their love is tested by the appearance of a mysterious blind painter (Veidt in a Caligari-esque reprise). Working from Carl Mayer’s poetic adaptation of the original Danish script The Conqueror, Murnau explores the spirituality of his main characters. Temptation, desire and isolation among lovers continued to be favorite subjects for Murnau, culminating in his 1927 masterpiece, Sunrise. Continue reading