Century 1924: The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh. F.W. Murnau. 1924.

Wow. That Murnau is going to go places. This is just so incredibly stylish and exciting to watch.

Beautifully restored, too.

It’s fascinating how well Murnau is able to tell the entire story with nary an intertitle: Virtually everything is conveyed through the acting, setting and cinematography. This involves a lot of panto-like acting, but it’s wonderful.

As impressive as this is (so many scenes made me go “wow!”), it’s got some pacing problems. On a scene-by-scene basis, it’s genius, but as a whole it’s not perfect.

But on the other hand, I laughed, and I cried, and sometimes did both at the same time, so I have to give it top score, anyway. This film has the most satisfying ending of any film ever in the history of everything.

The documentary included on the DVD is also totes fasc.  The film was shot three times (for three markets), and the documentary compares the versions minutely to unveil the technical innovations Murnau and his team was unleashing on the world.  It’s like a master class in 20s cinematography.  And the attention to detail is so nerdy; so forensic: It’s wonderful.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1921: The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen). Victor Sjöström. 1921.

This is one of Ingmar Bergman’s favourite films, and Bergman did a play based on the making of this film. Which explains the double feature on this DVD.

Back in the pre-talkie days, Sweden was allegedly seen as a somewhat important film nation, and this was one of the masterpieces of the time.

I can see why this film would fascinate a Bergman as a child. It’s a ghost story with extensive use of advanced special effects (i.e., double exposure).

But I don’t know… It’s pretty and stuff… But the protagonist is such a bounder that you have to wonder what Selma Lagerlöf (who wrote the book this was based on) was after. I think Bergman interpreted the book (through the film) as a way to say “fuck you” to her father.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1918: Hearts of the World

Hearts of the World. D.W. Griffith. 1918.

Hey, it’s the first post of the new movie blog series hopefully taking me from 1918 to 2018. By skipping some years.

D. W. Griffith is a very controversial director, of course, but Lillian Gish is Lillian Gish.

This is an awfully confusing movie. Mostly because I thought some of the floppy-hatted soldiers were French when apparently they were German? Don’t all the Germans wear non-floppy hats?

You see my difficulties.

Still: Pretty nice. The boy who over-played all his scenes as a lovable munchkin won all his scenes. Just go for it! Even if what you’re going for is somebody’s ankles.

This blog post is part of the Century series.


Or rather: Leftovers.

I was tidying the DVD stacks (rooting out doubles and the like), and it occurred to me that I should probably watch all this stuff at some point or other.

While going through the discs, I noted that the oldest unseen movie I have is from 1918… And this year is 2018… That’s like at least a century!

I could watch, like, one per year in sequential order!

I mean, I don’t have one per year, so it’s probably just going to be 50 films or something. I haven’t done the maths because I can’t find my slide rule.

And! This reminded me of all the boozes and liqueurs I have left from the World of Films and Cocktails series, which I should probably try to make a dent in so that I can free up some cupboards.

So here’s the concept: At most one film per year, and a new cocktail per movie based on just the booze I’ve already got.

This should be easy.