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TARTÜFF

Tartuffe
(Tartüff)
Germany
1925
Comedy

German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau made this film adaptation of Molière’s satire in early 1925 and it was released the following year, shortly followed by FAUST. By presenting the play as a film-within-a-film, Murnau takes the opportunity to place the material in a contemporary setting, sandwiched inside a moral lesson on greed and hypocrisy.

A devious housekeeper convinces her master to cut his worthy grandson out of his will and to leave the riches to her instead. The grandson, disguised as the projectionist of a travelling cinema show, flatters his way into the home to project a film of Tartuffe in an attempt to openhis grandfather’s eyes. Emil Jannings plays Tartuffe with creepy panache in a tour-de-force turnalongside Lil Dagover and Werner Krauss.

Unjustly neglected for decades, perhaps because of its low-key nature compared with Murnau’s more grand masterpieces, this delightful curiosity is more than a mere trifle. TARTUFFE affirms Murnau as a master of multifarious cinematic disciplines: from the set-based dreams of FAUST and SUNRISE, to the naturalist landscapes of NOSFERATU and TABU. In TARTUFFE we find an intimate Murnau, relying on close-ups and the performances of his actors to create magic.

Giuseppe Becce, composer of the original music, was keen to transfer the ‘Leitmotiv’ technique from the realm of opera to the screen, and to expand its use by quoting popular melodies and referencing various pieces of the repertoire. All of his scores are especially characterised by a demand to express external posture and internal attitude with the help of vividly gestural aspects of his music. Recitative passages add a suggestive level of commentary. According to some critics, this was both new and ground-breaking.

The reconstruction and adaptation of the music by Detlev Glanert is based on the piano reduction preserved at the Deutsches Filminstitut.

Compositions:

Giuseppe Becce

1925 Arr. after the original score by Pierre Oser
  Ensemble    
 
stafflist
clarinet, cello, piano
     
 
Duration
74
sync fps
24

Giuseppe Becce

1926 Arr. after the original score by Rolf Unkel
  large orchestra    
 
stafflist
1/picc.1/ca.1/basscl.1 - 0.2.1.0 - perc.piano/cemb/cel - strings (min: 6.4.3.2.2)
     
 
Duration
74
sync fps
24

Giuseppe Becce

1925 Orchestrated, adapted and completed by Detlev Glanert, 2015
  -    
 
stafflist
1+1/pic.2.2.1+1/cbsn - 2.2.1.0 - timp.2perc - hp - str
     
 
Duration
69
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