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A devious housekeeper convinces her master to cut his worthy grandson out of
his will and to leave the riches to her instead. The grandson, disguised as the
projectionist of a travelling cinema show, flatters his way into the home to
project a film of Tartuffe in an attempt to open his grandfather's eyes.
F. W. Murnau made this film adaptation of Moliere's satire for UFA early in 1925 and it was released the following year, shortly followed by 'Faust'. By presenting the play as a film-within-a-film, Murnau takes the opportunity to place the material in a contemporary setting, sandwiched inside a morality lesson about greed and hypocrisy.
Unjustly neglected for decades, perhaps because of its low-key nature compared with Murnau's more grand masterpieces, this delightful curiosity is more than a mere trifle. Tartuffe affirms Murnau as a master of multifarious cinematic disciplines: from the set-based dreams of 'Faust' and 'Sunrise', to the naturalist landscapes of 'Nosferatu', 'City Girl', and 'Tabu'. In 'Tartuffe' we find an intimate Murnau, relying on close-ups and the performances of his actors to create magic. Emil Jannings plays Tartuffe with creepy panache in a tour-de-force turn alongside Lil Dagover and Werner Krauss.
Restored in 2002 by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv Berlin/Koblenz and the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung of Wiesbaden, this DVD contains the best surviving version of the film, featuring German intertitles, optional English subtitles, tinting, and is presented at the correct speed.
- 'Tartuffe - The Lost Film': a new documentary from Luciano Berriatua (37 mins)
- 16-page booklet with a new essay by film historian R. Dixon Smith
Screen Fullscreen 4:3
Colour B & W
Subtitles German intertitles ; English subtitles
Duration 1 hour and 10 minutes (approx)