NEWS: The Last Laugh @ Star and Shadow, Newcastle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Star and Shadow Cinema’s silent cinema season, Resounding Silents, continues with The Last Laugh on Sunday 1st February, a film set and filmed in 1920s Weimar Germany, which – despite its title – is decidedly straight-faced. It’s also devilishly good – fitting given the director’s reputation.

W. Murnau is best remembered today for overseeing the original Dracula flick: the chilling and iconic Nosferatu. Bram Stoker’s widow famously sued the film company for adapting her husband’s book without due permission. Murnau’s (failed) solution? Change the characters’ names and hope nobody will notice (hence Dracula became “Count Orlok”). The Last Laugh, made afterwards, is not a horror film but at times feels like one, especially the protagonist’s terrifying descent into grief and madness, from respected hotel doorman to penniless bum.

Star Emil Jannings puts in an incredibly nuanced performance; he would pop up as diabolical demon Mephisto in Murnau masterpiece, Faust, a couple of years later. The film is notable for another couple of reasons: featuring cinema’s first ever tracking shot and boldly containing not a word of dialogue – not even intertitles. A live score will be provided on the night by Phallicite – the much celebrated local ‘dorkestra’ – lending atmospheric backing to the most silent of silent films.

The Last Laugh screens at the Star and Shadow Cinema, Newcastle on Sunday 1st February.

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