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Variete (Variety) (Masters of Cinema) (Dual Format) [Blu-ray]
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(Jan 23, 2017)
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A key work of German silent cinema and an international smash on its release, E. A. Duponts Variete (Variety)is an audacious revenge melodrama set under the canvas of the big top.
When Boss Huller (the iconic Emil Jannings) meets the young emigre Berta-Marie (Lya De Putti), it kindles his desire to relaunch his career as a trapeze artist, stalled due to an injury and the pressures of domestic life. But with passion comes obsession, and with the involvement of the famed Artinelli into their act, tensions rise to a fever pitch.
Visually astonishing, with some of the most inventive camerawork of the 1920s, and a typically intense and vivid central performance from Jannings, Variete is presented here in an all-new restoration of the original German version. Featuring two scores: one by Stephen Horne (as performed at the London Film Festival 2015, and one by the Tiger Lilies (as performed at Berlinale 2015)
- New 2015 high-definition digital restoration by the FWMS
- Three scores: one by Stephen Horne; one by Johannes Contag; and one by the Tiger Lilies
- PCM audio on the Blu-ray
- Optional English subtitles for the German intertitles
- The complete American version of the film
- PLUS: A booklet featuring new writing on the film and archival images
''The strongest and most inspiring drama that has ever been told by the evanescent shadows'' New York Times
''EA Duponts kinetic, dazzling drama set among libidinous circus folk. This movie has never looked so sharp a fantastic film, with Emil Jannings firing on all cylinders and Lya De Putti the definition of minxiness as the woman who leads him astray'' Silent London
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Variete is by turns comic, dramatic and suspenseful, with some stunning set pieces, and the whole is unified by the afore mentioned camerawork. Freund takes every opportunity he can to unchain the camera and produced some wonderfully dynamic images. However, the last ten minutes is handed over to Emil Jannings, who pulls out all the stops, as only he could, with what must be some of his most tremendous glowering and eye popping close-ups. I should also say that Lya de Putti looks quite extraordinary and there's a good deal of fleshy eroticism.
The package from MoC is excellent, not only offering the FWMS restoration of the German original, but the US version as well. We also get the choice of three different scores. The information packed booklet is a really goodie, too.
The second score sounds the best - a very high-quality recording of a small group of musicians, mostly featuring piano. The third score is similar, but a bit more lo-fi sounding.
The first score, by The Tiger Lilies, is the worst music I've ever heard in a silent film. Someone sings (kind of) through the entire movie. That's a recipe for disaster, and this disaster is of Titanic proportions. During my second viewing of the film, I kept switching back to audio 1 just to see if that guy was still singing (he was). If this were live music in a real theater, the rotten tomatoes would begin flying within three minutes.
Whoever decided to use this score needs to do some serious soul-searching. It is idiotic.