THE LAST LAUGH (1924)
Movie Review from ElCriticon-AlohaCriticon
Indisputable masterpiece by F.W. Murnau and one of the best films in the history of cinema. Gifted by an irresistible lyricism and exaggerating an emotive portrait of the principal character, develops delicately, from a perspective that mixtures naturalism and expressionism, the description of an aged man humiliated as a worker and as a human being by an unmerciful society that does not respect experience nor commitment, only profits.
This psychological drama, written by Carl Mayer, lacks of titles, so the narration is developed by the master Murnau and Karl Freund’s camera work: impressive settings, innovative movements with unchained camera technique, in a sorbent way, the character’s feelings, placing the camera in Freund’s chest using a harness imitating the internal process of the character observed. So in conclusion, these movements acquire a very important narrative relevance.
We also have to speak about symbolism and metaphors related to the uniform, clearly related to German’s defeat in the First World War and the incredible performance of Emil Jannings, one of the great interpreters in the seventh art.
Murnau wanted a tragic conclusion for The Last Laugh but the UFA suggested a less bitter end than the sensational scene full of enthralling suffering, personal decadence and social isolation. Murnau had to add a final epilogue, showing a quite exaggerated scene that not only parodied traditional happy endings but also spoke in an ironic manner about the supreme value in capitalist society: money.