Herr Tartüff [Tartuffe] (1925) + Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich / Frank Strobel

Herr Tartüff
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: Carl Mayer
Based on: Molière‘s play
Cast: Emil Jannings, Hermann Picha, Rosa Valetti, André Mattoni, Werner Krauss, Lil Dagover, Lucie Höflich, Camilla Horn
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Giuseppe Becce, played be the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 20.3.2018

A young man (André Mattoni) suspects that his grandfather’s (Hermann Picha) housekeeper (Rosa Valetti) is trying to kill him to get to his money. So the young man tries to warn his by then isolated grandfather of her machinations by showing him a film. In that film, Tartüff (Emil Jannings) pretends to be a devout priest. He is staying with Herr Orgon (Werner Krauss) and his wife Elmire (Lil Dagover). Elmire is suspicious of Tartüff and his intentions, but Orgon doesn’t want to hear it…

Herr Tartüff is an enjoyable film and Becce’s music is really quite something. I wouldn’t have needed the entire thing to be longer than it was, but I had a good time throughout.

I have never seen Tartüff (the play), but I was still suprised that they chose to provide the play with an additional framing element – the story of the grandson fighting for his grandfather. The film within the film takes up the most space and honestly, I think that’s a pretty good choice. And not just because Jannings is in the “inside film”.

It’s the first time that I saw Jannings in an outright comedy role and I have to say that he has the versaility to pull the fun stuff off as much as the dramatic roles, but I might prefer him in dramas anway. In any case, he did a good job as Tartüff who is absolutely creepy right underneath all that laughter.

I also really enjoyed Lil Dagover’s performance – she was really fantastic as Elmire who fights for her husband’s freedom from manipulation. The sets were also really wonderful, making the film altogether very enjoyable in its own right, even if I didn’t entirely love it.

But we did get music as well and I loved that music. In fact, especially in the softer, sweeter moments it got so beautiful that I felt the urge to turn the film off so that I could just listen to the music. That makes the music (or rather my ears) the clear winner of this evening.

Summarizing: mostly fun and definitely beautiful music.

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