A morality play that crumbles beautifully under the weight of its own nuances and idiosyncrasies, as well as its figural implications. Murnau paints with light, shadow, and prolonged gestures in space. We of course wag our finger at Tartuffe's hypocrisy, but Murnau counters that with images of pure, detached feminine sexuality, irresistible. What is morality when space, time, and sex play out like this?
The ever watchable Emil Jannings excels, but otherwise, the murky personal morality play fails to convince, and the ending is altogether too neat. But what a great line: 'to sin in secret is no sin'. I shudder to think how many followed this edict
An early example of a moral tale that functions also as an exercise in the reflexivity of (home) cinema and its cathartic mirroring. With amazing semantic codifciations (i.e. the doorbell as alarm for the danger that lurks and sits quietly next to the stubborn man), it features a terrific Jannings and with ingenious cinematic pirhouettes it conveys the love for the film image as a therapeutic ascent to the 'Good'.
I don't know if Murnau's forbidding, expressionistic style really suits comedy, but 'Tartuffe' delivers its sly punches to the groin and brain with wit and verve! There's so much pleasure to be taken in the camera work alone. Sardonic and necessarily theatrical.
Not Murnau's finest work by a long chalk, but funny and diverting all the same. Some visually striking moments too. A mediocre film by an exceptional film maker is still well worth a watch, just don't expect a masterpiece along the lines of Nosferatu or Sunrise.
Tartuffe's face expressions are a pure delight. And the finger-pointing against religious fanatics and greedy treasure-hunters instead of the (rather typically) frivolous, superficial women/wives even better.
A bizarre morality fable complete with drunkard fake saints, constant keyhole peeping and writing your will out for any waif or stray who happens to break into your home. On the plus side the Georgian-Victorian period details are rather nice (Elmire's pannier dresses are gorge) but Moliere's original makes this ultimately redundant. Random aside but silent films always make me want to go watch Tom & Jerry instead...