films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

1927 / 94m - USA
Drama, Romance
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans poster


Faust: Eine Deutsche Volkssage
1926 / 107m - Germany
Fantasy, Romance
Faust poster

One of the most expensive films of its time, and it shows. Murnau made great use of the budget to create an outlandish looking world. Impressive special effects and smart camera work create a mysterious and intriguing atmosphere, once again affirming my respect for the German Expressionists. But man that middle part was a downer.

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Murnau adapts Goethe's Faust, the tale of a righteous man who gets challenged by the devil in order to see whether he could succumb to the evil side. The devil sends a plague to the village where Faust lives, hoping to destroy his faith in God. At first, he seems to be succeeding, but then Faust finds a book that can help him summon the devil.

The first and final 30 minutes are really something else, but the middle part is quite cheesy. Murnau struggles with the stark switch in styles and the somewhat tepid romance that makes up the middle half really doesn't help. It's a shame, because there are some impressive scenes here. Just not enough to keep me glued to the screen for the entire runtime.

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas

1931 / 86m - USA
Adventure, Romance
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas poster

Murnau's final film. What separates Tabu from films of its time is the exotic setting (filmed on location too). It's a nice little perk, but it's also a bit cheesy and it feels a little exploitative. It's certainly not the worst film though, thanks to proper pacing and a pleasant romance that forms the heart of the film.

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Matahi is a pearl diver on Bora Bora. He falls in love with Reri, the two are clearly made for each other. But then someone from a neighboring island arrives and brands Reri a holy virgin, meaning no man is allowed to touch or be with her. Reri and Matahi flee the island to save their love.

I was happy to see Tabu wasn't filmed on a set, but the early filming equipment doesn't do justice to its exotic environment. The plot is relatively simple and the romance is very expected, but the short runtime makes it bearable. Not the best Murnau, but I'd expected worse going in.

The Last Laugh

Der Letzte Mann
1924 / 90m - Germany
The Last Laugh poster

I'm relatively fond of the German Expressionist of the 1920s, The Last Laugh is a more traditional-looking film though. Didn't really know what to expect, especially since I've been having rather different reactions to other Murnau films I'd seen so far. The Last Laugh ended up somewhere in between.

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The film follows a proud hotel doorman who loves his job. He goes out of the way to help the guests, but when one day he helps a client with a particularly heavy suitcase he is caught resting and gets demoted to toilet cleaner. His pride melts away when friends and neighbors make fun of his situation.

Performances are needlessly over the top, the story is a bit basic and repetitive and the ending is a real head scratcher. Apparently commissioned by the studio that way, but it's a real dud. I never really cared for the fate of the doorman, but for a film this old it does feel remarkable well put together.

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
1922 / 81m - Germany
Fantasy, Horror
Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror poster