Combustible Celluloid
Search for Posters
Own it:
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Emil Jannings, Hermann Picha, Rosa Valetti, André Mattoni, Werner Krauss, Lil Dagover, Lucie Höflich
Written by: Carl Mayer, based on a play by Molière
Directed by: F.W. Murnau
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 63
Date: 11/20/1925

Tartuffe (1925)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Heroes of Hipocrisy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Most critics of this 1925 silent feature squawked that F.W. Muranu "butchered" Moliere's original work, but let's face it, the play -- a warning against hypocrisy -- isn't exactly the most subtle classic in the world. Unlike his later Faust, Murnau obviously needed to imagine Tartuffe in a way to make it relevant to modern day, and so he invented the bookend sequences, making it -- along with Keaton's Sherlock Jr. -- one of the first post-modern films (in which characters watch and are aware of films). In the wraparound sequence, a young man tries to save his grandfather who is about to lose his fortune to a greedy, crooked housekeeper. Since the young man is an actor, he disguises himself and plays a traveling motion picture man, setting up a screening of Tartuffe in hopes of convincing the housekeeper that she's wrong. Of course, this actual Tartuffe is the film's strongest section, with the great Emil Jannings in the title role, stiffly walking around -- he sometimes resembles Murnau's Nosferatu -- and leering just over the top of the Good Book. Tartuffe manages to convince a weak-willed dupe that pleasures of the flesh are wrong, while indulging in many of those self-same pleasures himself. All in all, it's a relatively minor Murnau, but some sequences contain his beautifully twisted touches.

DVD Details: The Tartuffe disc includes a new 35-minute documentary on the life of Murnau. But best of all, Tartuffe comes packaged in an extraordinary new box set, The F.W. Murnau Collection, which containsKino's Nosferatu (1922), The Last Laugh (1924) andFaust (1926) as well as Image Entertainment's Tabu (1931).For more info, visit Kino's website orcall toll-free at (800) 562-3330.

Movies Unlimtied