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 "Early Murnau - Five Films" a Masters of Cinema Collection 
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The fine folks behind the Masters of Cinema series, Eureka Entertainment, have outdone themselves with Early Murnau - Five Films, an extraordinary collection on blu-ray of one of the most influential and revered figures in all of cinema, Friedrich Wilheim Murnau. Murnau came to prominence in the first half of the 1920s with a diverse string of productions ranging from buoyant satire to swirling psychological drama. Five key works are presented here: Schloß Vogelöd, Phantom, Die Finanzen des Großherzogs (The Grand Duke’s Finances), Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh) and Tartuffe.They are all captured here along with an exceptionally assembled collection of extras in this special edition three-disc set available now.

In the sinister mystery Schloß Vogelöd, terrible secrets from the past threaten a group of aristocrats’ gathering at a country manor. In the delirious Phantom, an aspiring poet’s chance encounter with a beautiful woman leads into obsession and deception. The delightful Die Finanzen des Großherzogs sees a rakish-but-impoverished duke setting out to rebuild his fortune via blissfully comic high adventure on the Mediterranean coast. In Der Letzte Mann, one of the undisputed masterpieces of the silent era, Emil Jannings gives an overwhelming performance as a hotel porter with dreams of a higher station in life, and was a stylistic breakthrough for both Murnau and cinema in general. Finally, the slyly satiric Tartuffe features Jannings as Molière’s iconic creation in a morality tale film-within-a-film as only Murnau could conceive.

This collection features new high-definition transfers of all five films from the finest archival elements, all on Blu-ray for the first time in a special edition three-disc set. The extras include:

  • New high-definition presentations of all five films, created by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung
  • Uncompressed PCM audio on all five scores
  • Original German-language intertitles with newly translated optional English-language subtitles on all films
  • What Will You Be Tomorrow? A new video essay by filmmaker and critic David Cairns
  • The Language of the Shadows: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and His Films, a 31-minute video piece by Luciano Berriatúa on the early works of Murnau
  • Audio commentary by film scholar David Kalat on The Grand Duke’s Finances
  • The Making of The Last Laugh, a 41-minute documentary by Murnau expert Luciano Berriatúa
  • Tartuffe: The Lost Film, a 37-minute documentary by Berriatúa
  • A 100-page book featuring writing by Charles Jameux, Lotte H. Eisner, Janet Bergstrom, Tony Rayns, and archival imagery

With over 7 hours of material, Early Murnau - Five Films is a must own for any fan of Murnau, early cinematic history or simply of Eureka's always exceptional Masters of Cinema series.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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