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The likeable and carefree Grand Duke of Abacco is in dire straits. There is no money left to service the State's debt; the main creditor is looking forward to expropriating the entire Duchy... See full summary »
Vienna in the biggest depression, directly after WW1. In a slum, Lila Leid, the wife of lawyer Leid is murdered, Egon, secretary of one of Leid's clients is arrested. He was with her, and ... See full summary »
Not his best, but still excellent by anyone else's standards.
Personally I think the other reviewers have been way too hard on this film, and I certainly don't agree that it is "extremely average", "throwaway" or "plain and forgettable". OK - it's not his best by a long shot, but Murnau was such a talented directer/artist that even his weaker films urinate all over the films of most other directors. I thought that the 'film within a film' structure of it worked brilliantly. The cast were all excellent in their acting. The film is pretty great visually too (as one would expect from Murnau) - the 'outer' film is shot in a crisp, modernist style, with adventurous camera angles and no make up, while the central 'film within a film' section was filmed in a more classical, soft-focus style. The film was also quite risky for it's time in its depiction of sexuality, and corruption within the clergy, and several scenes were censored for American audiences.
The central theme of the film is hypocrisy, particularly with those who are overly pious, judgemental and puritanical. This is encapsulated in the words of Tartuffe when he admits: "Who sins in secret - does not sin". Murnau expertly exposes the true roots of fanatically pious behaviour - behind which lies its very opposite. This is very similar to what Freud termed 'reaction formation', whereby a character trait or impulse which one finds unbearable to oneself (the ego) is disguised and repressed by bringing a complete opposite tendency to the facade of ones personality - but this is always noticeable by its exaggeration. The Tartuffe character also indulges in another Freudian defence mechanism called 'projection', whereby one relieves the anxiety caused by an unwelcome trait by projecting it onto others.
It's important to mention that this film also works brilliantly as a satire, and at times I found myself laughing out loud at the grotesque character of Tartuffe. In one scene the obedient Emile is seen rocking Tartuffe as he yawns and lazes in a hammock like a selfish baby. Yet despite the ridiculing, there is always a deep humane concern underlying the film - as there is with all of Murnau's films.
So, like I said: this is not one of his best, but any Murnau film is worth seeing.
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