Tartuffe (Masters of Cinema) DVD
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Directed by F.W. Murnau
Produced in 1925
Main Language - SILENT with English subtitles
Emil Jannings, Lil Dagover, Werner Krauss
Between The Last Laugh and Faust, F W Murnau made this free adaptation of Moliere’s play about the hypocrite Tartuffe, stripping it to its essentials and presenting it as a film of a play within a film. Including elements of both farce and satire it’s further proof of just what an adaptable director Murnau was. We are fortunate to see the film at all. No original German negative of the film has survived and the print used is taken from the best of the four surviving copies – that of the American export version, which unfortunately was cut by the American censors, for whom the portrayal of the hypocrite Tartuffe was just too, well… hypocritical. Gone are the religious symbols that were part of Murnau’s anti-clerical design, gone too is a scene (fortunately preserved in another print and shown in the extras) in which Jannings’ portrayal of Tartuffe turns nasty and which is at odds with the caricature of Tartuffe he presents at other times – though at least this vicious aspect comes through in the bedroom scene in the surviving print. Jannings as usual relishes his part, leering and groping whenever he is safe to let his mask of myopic piety down, and at times Murnau films him as a vampiric shadow that stalks the house. Add the meticulous set design, good use of false perspective and cinematography from Karl Freund and you have a film which presents the themes and preoccupations of Murnau’s other works in a refreshingly different light.
Graeme Hobbs on 10th December 2004
Author of 294 reviews
Murnau's film-within-a-film adaptation of Moliere's stage play about the hypocritical Tartuffe stars the inimitable Jannings in the title role and has cinematography by Karl Freund. It's a fascinating piece of work that sees him relying on close-ups and actors' performances for his magic more than in the set-based Faust or Sunrise.
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 64 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 24th January 2005
Cat No: EKA40074
- Tartuffe - The Lost Film, a new 37-minute Luciano Berriat?a documentary
- 16-page booklet with a new essay by film historian R. Dixon Smith
- German intertitles (optional English subtitles).