Forever disfigured by a wide and mirthless grin on his face, the orphaned son of a nobleman, Gwynplaine, rescues the blind baby-girl, Dea, in cold seventeenth-century England. Taken in by the paternal carnival philosopher, Ursus, the unloved boy grows into a kind and honest man who chooses, however, to hide his grotesque deformity behind a black cloak, utterly convinced that the beautiful Dea will never truly love him because of his horrible secret. Feeling unworthy of Dea's noble feelings, Gwynplaine will soon cross paths with the aristocratic temptress, Duchess Josiana, as a cruel and long-standing conspiracy in the palace of Queen Anne presents him with the burden of choice. Will poor Gwynplaine, the Man who Laughs, renounce everything in the name of love?Written by
Victor Hugo's immortal 12-Reel romance of the tragedy hidden behind the laugh of a clown. Poor Gwenplaine; poor laughing fool who makes millions happy and knows not happiness himself. Suppressing a tear with every laugh- a broken heart behind each smile! Choosing between the love of a sweet innocent girl and the lure of a voluptuous woman! Two years in the making-cost £500,000 to produce! (Print Ad-Northern Star, ((Lismore, NSW)) 19 January 1929) See more »
The first time I encountered The Man Who Laughs was a photo in a horror movie catalog that I had when I was a very easily-spooked 8-year-old. For some reason that grotesque grin frightened me more than the Hunchback, the Phantom of the Opera, and Nosferatu combined. I couldn't bear to look at it, so I carefully marked the page so that I wouldn't accidentally catch a glimpse of it. However, if I had actually seen the movie I wouldn't have been frightened at all. I wouldn't consider The Man Who Laughs a horror movie, but a touching melodrama about a man whose appearance is horrific.
Gwynplaine is a very sympathetic, likeable character, and Conrad Veidt does an excellent job of conveying his inner torment and sadness with subtle eye movements and gestures. Gwynplaine's innate goodness is very clear, despite his macabre appearance. We root for him to overcome all obstacles to find happiness and true love, as we root for the evil jester Barkilphedro to meet with a bitter end. We are not disappointed. I was impressed with the beautiful cinematography, which is exceptional for the time. The score and sound effects are used very well, so well that sometimes you forget that you are watching a silent picture. With the outstanding performances, particularly Veidt's, this is a classic of silent cinema that deserves to have a much wider audience.
22 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this