Emil Jannings won the first best actor Academy Award for his performance as a sympathetic tyrant: an exiled Russian general turned Hollywood extra who lands a role playing a version of his former czarist self, bringing about his emotional downfall.
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One of the great late silent films, and one of the few Sternberg masterpieces where his considerable stylistic talent—the way he could make his frames feel *alive*—serves a tight plot as well as a pure febrile fantasia. The (admittedly flawed) meta framing device is brain-tickling, and the story in between captivates. No one could play a dignified man brought low like Emil Jannings, and he got an Oscar to prove it.
Jannings and von Sternberg...wow. Every new von Sternberg film I see I think it is my favorite. He is fast solidifying his place among my favorites. The direction here is so smooth it is unbelievable. And the cast is there to make the most of it - Jannings, Brent, Powell are all outstanding. But in the end, it is Jannings, delivering one of the great male lead performances. Among the finest films of the era.
Evelyn Brent is amazing! I love her!! This film has the greatest treatment of the Russian Revolution I've seen on film - it sympathizes with and demonizes both sides. And then the last shot was incredible, and hugely ahead of its time. Really great film!!
you can easily references in "The Lives of Others" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the brother Ben Affleck" from that movie. It could be better, even a masterpiece but nevermind. Like all other great films, it proves that how a final climax makes film bigger.
Jannings was a force of nature of such fortitude, fidelity to the craft, fright, and frailty, some see ham where others see genius. This bombastic charisma both highlights and minimizes von Sternberg's often preposterous story - because at the end, realism itself is at stake here. Is the flashback a movie fantasy or fact? I don't care. All I know, is I tear up in the first 10 minutes, and that's real enough.
Pathétique et sublime interprétation du grand Emil Jannings, d'une extraordinaire richesse suggestive, évitant adroitement les redoutables écueils du cabotinage faraud et de l'outrance baroque et gesticulant, pour une oeuvre essentielle dans l'étonnante filmographie d'un Sternberg éblouissant de maîtrise et de puissance dans sa limpide narration cinématographique. www.cinefiches.com
Emil Jannings y Evelyn Brent dan una cátedra de actuación en esta historia de amor imposible entre un comandante del imperio ruso y una ferviente revolucionaria. El final durante el rodaje de la escena en las trincheras es realmente poderoso y dramático. "Era mucho más que un gran actor. Era un gran hombre".