Variety

The murderer “Boss” Huller – after having spent ten years in prison – breaks his silence to tell the warden his story.

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  • ★★★★½ review by feedingbrett on Letterboxd

    Review In A Nutshell:

    Criminally under-viewed, E.A. Dupont’s Variete is a feature that doesn’t carry anything truly substantial as far as the story goes, but in regard to the mode that it embraces in its storytelling, this is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant pieces of work that I have ever seen. Dupont applies a fantastic blend of surrealistic and grounded melodramatic energy in its filmmaking that it succeeds in conveying an immense sense of depth in its characterisation, a factor that is critical since the film is supposed to showcase the rationale behind its protagonist’s eventual imprisonment. The film carries an empathetic and emotionally charged performance from Emil Jannings. I could probably go into detail on each aspect of the film’s production, and with it, find a wealth of strengths that justifies this film as a cinematic gem; I am going to save such discussions for that inevitable second viewing.

  • ★★★★ review by Lencho of the Apes on Letterboxd

    Emotional rollercoaster, sledgehammer-blunt and sledgehammer-effective, reminded me a bit of Greed in its depiction of a guy who maybe is a little slow, but who grabs hold of an idea and won't let it go. Two breathtaking setpieces - the wedding banquet (probably an influence on Browning for Freaks -- and it has spider-walk dancing!) and the trapeze sequence in Act Three.

    Performance styles might interfere with some people's enjoyment; the expressionist mannerisms, when left unchecked, can be ridiculously over-determined (like f'rinstance that lust-face that guys use whenever they're digging another person's action, here and in Joyless Street.)

  • ★★★½ review by Wilson on Letterboxd

    E.A. Dupont's Varieté is a fascinating, impressively bleak, silent German film starring Emil Jannings. The film is set around a seedy carnival, which allows some absolutely stunning and exquisite trapeze sequences to be filtered into the film. The plot revolves around a love affair, an abandoned wife and children, another love affair and eventually murder. This is not a spoiler, Jannings begins in jail and tells us the tale of how he got there.

    The Masters of Cinema tinted print is quite beautiful, though be careful which soundtrack you choose to watch the film with, because the one by The Tiger Lillies is properly dreadful.

    Varieté is an impressive film, with Emil Jannings giving a typically fine performance, a couple of years before his Oscar winning turns. He really inhabits the role, his grim countenance giving the film a real power in the final set of scenes.

  • ★★★★½ review by Thorkell August Ottarsson on Letterboxd

    Day 20. 59th Film, 41th Country: Germany

    of the "May: 30 Days, 30 Countries" Challenge.

    I have been looking forward to watching this film for the longest time but I wanted to see the uncut German version (almost 2 hours) so I waited. This is one of the great films of silent film history. Directed by Ewald André Dupont, the man who made one of my all time favorite silent film Piccadilly (1929), which is also one of the most underrated film ever. But back to Varieté. Emil Jannings plays a man who has been in prison for 10 years. He has never said a word about his crime but finally breaks silence and tells his story.

    As the English title of the film suggest it has to do with jealousy. A man falls in love with a young woman and gets jealous when she shows another man interest. This does not sound very interesting but the gold is in the way the film is made/told. This is expressionism par excellence.

    One of my favorite things in this film was not the ultra expressionistic scenes like the many eyes of the audience looking. What fascinated me most was the editing technique. We often see an action repeated twice, first from one point of view and than from another. It is almost like we are watching the person do things and then think about what he/she is doing. This is so brilliant and I kept wondering, why is this not done more often? This is such a cinematic way of showing feelings/thoughts!

    Anyway, if you like your film visual then give this film a try. If you are more hung up on a plot then skip it.

  • ★★★★ review by Oscar Lau on Letterboxd

    The film's impeccable visual effects and expressive cinematography still look tremendous today. Emil Jannings conveyed such an intense performance of passion, jealousy and scorn that one might oversee his implausible physicality as being an acrobat. The fetish desire of woman anticipated Louis Brooks in Panadora's Box whilst the love triangle turned tragic revenge in carnivalesque milieu might have an impact on Tod Browning's The Unknown and Freaks. Recently restored and released in Blu-ray, E.A. Dupont deserved to be remembered with this film alone.

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