Unboxing the Silents: “The Last Laugh” on Bluray

Here’s a nice treat for all you fans of German silent films: A restored version of F.W. Murnau’s influential The Last Laugh is coming to Bluray in region 1/A! I have an advance copy, so let’s dig in.

As always, a big thanks to Kino Lorber for the review copy. This is a review of the new release, not the film itself.

The two-disc set consists of a Bluray with the restored film and making-of featurette, and a DVD with the unrestored export version of the film. (The set is also available as an all-DVD release.) The film will be released on November 14, 2017.

Image

The film has undergone a 2k restoration by the Murnau Stiftung and it looks pretty sharp. This restoration also sought to put together the pieces from the three filmed versions of the picture for the most complete presentation possible. The few titles are in the original German with optional English subtitles.

A sample of the image quality:

 

And here are some shots of the unrestored version, which is included as an extra. There are slight differences between the films and I am sure silent movie nerds will love comparing the two versions. (Nerdy? Us? Why, the very idea!)

Sound

For the restored film, we have a choice of a score from the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra or the original 1924 by Giuseppe Becce. Either is an excellent choice and I am thrilled that Kino included two scores for the viewers to choose from.

The Berklee Orchestra is made up of students, so we get excellent music and training for the next generation of silent film accompanists. It’s a win-win.

The unrestored film features music by Timothy Brock, performed by the Olympia Chamber Orchestra. Again, an excellent choice.

Extras

Extras include a 40-minute German mini-documentary on the making of the film and a commentary by Noah Isenberg.

This new release is absolutely gorgeous and is an excellent gift to yourself or to the cinephile in your life.

Availability

The film won’t be released until November 14, 2017 but you can learn more and pre-order here.

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5 Replies to “Unboxing the Silents: “The Last Laugh” on Bluray”

    1. I personally think the “no title card” thing is a bit simplistic. In addition to the card that you mention, we get an intro card (my screen cap) that is placed after the film’s title and before the opening shot from the elevator; the plot is also explained via newspaper clippings. “We didn’t TECHNICALLY use title cards! It’s in the newspaper!”

      I know directors tried to limit title cards but when they have to jump through hoops with “technically” and “actually” I’m like, just use a frelling title card, Friedrich.

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