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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 »
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A wealthy man invites the local wealthy bachelors over for a puppet show about men who covet another man's wife. The puppeteer is actually a witch and gives the men nightmares about what could happen if they date the lady of the house.
Lorenz Lubota is a city clerk with no direction in life. One day on his way to work he is run over by a woman driving a chariot and he is immediately infatuated with her. His life begins to spiral out of control as he searches for this girl and tries to win her heart.Written by
PHANTOM is a very heavy-handed morality tale of a simple man who inexplicably becomes infatuated with a woman after seeing her only briefly. Despite being a seemingly nice guy, he throws his life away and the film revels in this spiral as well as the parallel story of his sister who becomes a prostitute.
While the film on technical merits isn't bad (it did have some inventive camera work), it was a major letdown since it was directed by the legendary director F. W. Murnau. Had it been done by some studio hack, then I could understand why this film was so hokey and unbelievable--but from Murnau, his fans have come to expect so much more.
Unlike some reviews on IMDb, mine is a bit unusual in that I have now seen just about every known Murnau film in existence today (PHANTOM was the last) and so I can compare it to the body of his work. Clearly, it is the worst of his films and lacks the magic and genius that Murnau is known for having. You might be surprised to hear that although his most famous film is NOSFERATU, it may not be his best film--mostly because NOSFERATU, like PHANTOM, seems a tad old-fashioned and stilted--even for 1922. This can be forgiven in NOSFERATU because despite these lulls, the rest of the film is so transcendent and amazing--making it one of the greatest silent films of all time. There is nothing about PHANTOM that can make you overlook the very dated plot--it's just heavy-handed and not particularly memorable.
As I said, Murnau made some truly amazing films. Aside from NOSFERATU, he is most famous for the Oscar-winning SUNRISE, but neither of these is my favorite. I love and recommend you see FAUST because the camera work and artistry is just amazing--making Goethe's story a freshness and style that just have to be seen to believed. I also liked it because I (unfortunately) have read the very long book "Faust" and found the film actually made me like the story! THE LAST LAUGH and TARTUFF are also simply wonderful films that any serious student of German cinema must see.
So, my advice is to watch PHANTOM if you like, but if you aren't acquainted with F. W. Murnau's films, try any of the others first--otherwise you might not be able to detect his genius and deftness.
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