Owen also uses personification to describe the weapons and make them look like they are alive by giving each weapon a capital letter just like they have names like humans.
“The Last Laugh”.
The weapons are also given physical features that a human would usually have. The weapons are very descriptive with detail and the soldiers are lacked in description and this shows how the weapons are dominant and that there were so many soldiers that died that there is no need for them to be described. Not only are the weapons personified like humans but also the bullets are personified. Owen used personification by giving the bullets voices.
Owen uses a metaphor when he compares the shrapnel from an exploding bomb to a cloud. This metaphor helps the reader use his or her imagination. Also you can imagine the bullets like birds flying freely through the air. On the other hand, the men have no freedom whereas the weapons do. This makes it sound like the machine guns are telling off the soldiers, like a parent would to their son when they do something wrong.
The weapons are telling off the soldiers for them trying to stay alive in front of them and they have no match for the weapons. The weapons are mocking the soldiers throughout the poem. As well, it is very weird to smile just before you die. The soldier was probably described as smiling because maybe he was happy that he was dying due to the fact he was fed up with the war.
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This description of a dying soldier smiling before he dies confuses the reader and makes the reader think why is the soldier smiling. In most of his poems, he always refers to how young some of the soldiers were because he probably thought it was crazy how young the some of the soldiers were. Gas makes a hissing sound and snakes hiss makes the gas sound like an evil weapon.
Owens choice of language shows his attitude to WW1 and shows what he thinks about it. Each stanza is five lines long and the first two lines of each stanza are about humans and the last three are the weapons response to the humans. The weapons have more to say then the humans and it makes it look like the weapons are the masters of the soldiers and are superior. For the humans, Owen uses pronouns. There is also a very abrupt death to each soldier. The first soldier is crying out to God or cursing. The second soldier is crying out for his mother and father and the last one is thinking of his loved one.
After each soldier speaks, there are weapons mocking the soldier that just died. Owen conveys his experiences of WW1 by choosing a certain structure of the poem.
Fourthly, Owen conveys his experiences of WW1 by the voice and tone used in the poem. The last laugh sort of has a fun tone of voice to it. It is consistent throughout most of the poem until the last line, where it had more of a serious tone. There are different tones of voices for each weapon that speaks. The language is more colloquial to formal because the poem has a fun tone of voice to it. Murnau obviously despises militarism and hypocrisy and therefore there is satire; but, at the same time, cannot avoid to recognize the humanity in people's frailties that are in fact what entails and underlies in real life snobery and hypocrisy -- to some extent militarism too.
Really, in this film one cannot go with one without the other. Miguel Preto. I must agree that the way the story unfolds without the interruptions of intertitles greatly adds to its power - the way so much is told through the changing expressions of Jannings' face. I was very taken aback by the over-the-top happy ending and at first felt it ruined a great film, but I like your comment that in fact it reinforces the theme since only a miracle can save him.
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It also strikes me that the hotel boss who was so dismissive of him in the main film is here ready to suck up to him when he has money, adding to the satirical note. Interesting to wonder how often directors have managed to undermine happy endings forced on them by the studios - there are many films where this type of ending does feel tagged on, and maybe this was sometimes done deliberately, as it is here, to signal up that it isn't the 'real' ending.
Miguel, that's right on. It's a satire AND a very moving, empathetic film. They're not mutually exclusive qualities and personally I think Murnau and Jannings do a great job of balancing them here.
Judy, I think this ending is especially blatant in its sarcastic tone, but it's often the case with studio-mandated happy endings that they don't feel organically connected to the rest of the film, drawing attention to themselves and thus undermining the supposed happiness. Murnau and Mayer went a step further by actually adding some text that all but says the happy ending is a fraud.
We watched this in History of Film about a month ago, and I wasn't expecting how emotionally devastating it would be. I'm used to the Murnau of Nosferatu , but I wasn't prepared for this. I really do wish it had ended immediately with that shot of Jannings shivering in the bathroom; the cynical happy ending just seems to throw it all off balance. While it's amusing that Murnau makes it clear it's just a contrived deus ex machina , I sort of wish there could have been a "director's cut" that had had the studio ending cut out.
Analysis of The Last Laugh by Wilfred Owen
It's basically a bit of satire where satire isn't required. It also makes me very sad what happened to Jannings after this movie, letting himself be seduced by the Third Reich and all. I don't know if this has been suggested elsewhere, but maybe Tarantino killed him off in Inglourious Basterds as a kind of merciful wish fulfillment fantasy - to spare him all those miserable years that came after the war, before he died a broken man.
Yeah, this movie's really intense.
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One of Murnau's best, I think, and Jannings' performance is a big reason why. He was always fantastic, and it's definitely a shame he self-destructed after his amazing run in the silent era. Imagine if Jannings had been able to make the transition to talkies; he likely never would have returned to Europe and thus never would have joined the Nazis. Post a Comment. Monday, March 5, The Last Laugh. The Last Laugh was a crucial landmark in the history of the cinema. Murnau's classic was a dazzling technical feat that signaled several significant leaps forward in the early cinema: not only was it a work of pure visual artistry, with no dialogue intertitles, but Murnau and his crew a prestigious group including cameraman Karl Freund and assistance from Edgar G.
Ulmer invented the first dolly shots in film and the first uses of subjective camerawork. Murnau freed the previously static camera from its moorings, and the results were stunning.
The Last Laugh Analysis
The film's expressive, potent style movingly renders the story of a hotel porter Emil Jannings who is demoted for being too old and out of shape to properly do his job anymore. This is an unrecoverable blow for him, because everything he is, his entire sense of self-worth and identity, seems to be tied up in his job. In the film's opening scenes, he struts around the hotel, with bellboys scurrying to assist him in his work, and he obviously takes great pride in his puffed-up image, with his ornate, militaristic uniform.
He waddles from the hotel to the curb, guiding guests in or out, summoning cabs, carrying bags, his girth straining proudly against the stiff front of his uniform with its rows of shiny buttons. At home, he is equally proud, and when he enters the courtyard where he lives, everyone jumps to attention as though greeting a visiting dignitary, the men doffing their caps while he salutes. He walks stiffly, in obvious pain, his huge gut thrust out in front of him, exhausted from a hard day of work but still happy with his self-image, his view of himself as someone important.
Even if it takes a tremendous effort to keep his back straight after each day, he endures the discomfort for the sake of the pleasure he gets from feeling so important and respected. When he's demoted from this proud position, his grand uniform rudely stripped from him, it shatters his world so badly that he can never recover, his job was so integral to his feelings of self-worth and happiness.
The world is literally bent out of shape: leaving work after finding out about this change, the porter feels as though the hotel itself is going to crush him, in an extraordinary effects shot where the building seems to warp downwards towards the old man. Later, drunk at a wedding, the porter sways and staggers, and the camera sways with him, tracing jittery arcs around the room from the old man's point of view, as his gaze drunkenly skips around the room.
This subjective perspective aligns the audience with the old porter's attempt to erase his feelings of failure and abjection in revelry. This then fades into a dream sequence in which everything is hazy and distorted as though in a funhouse mirror, while the porter fantasizes about being restored to his old job and displaying a feat of tremendous strength, easily hefting a bulky trunk above his head with one hand.
It's a fantasy of power and control, an assertion of the masculine virility that he now feels he's so completely lacking. This is a depiction of a society in which those who are past their peak are cast aside without further care, their will to live drained by the cruelty of the world's disregard. Even the porter's own family, when they learn of his new lowered status, quite literally recoil from him in horror, as though they're seeing a monster.
It's almost comically exaggerated, but it makes the point: if a man's self-image is so thoroughly dependent on such shallow signifiers, on shiny uniforms and hollow prestige, then it is very easy indeed to tear him down and destroy him. There's also a class component to this story, in that the porter's pride in his job and his uniform only causes him to be content in his relative poverty.
He returns home to a decrepit, cramped tenement apartment and struts around as though he's an important and wealthy man, but actually he's a servant with a nice costume and an inflated sense of his position, which distracts him from his actual class status. Jannings' performance is remarkable, communicating all this complex emotion and social angst through his body language and his expressive eyes, about the only part of his face that's visible behind his ornate facial hair.
When the porter learns of his fall from grace, he tries to keep up appearances by stealing back his old uniform, but it proves to be not enough. Whereas he used to return home with his chest puffed out, walking with a regal manner, his confidence is shaken now, and he skulks into the courtyard, hunched over, anxiously looking around as though he wants to simply disappear into the shadows.
He has to remind himself to stand up straight and try to project confidence, but as he walks towards his apartment, his slouch returns, slowly but surely, and soon he's scurrying home past the laughter and disapproval of the neighbors who were once so awed by his seeming dignity. The film has no textual titles except brief ones at the beginning and before the tacked-on, studio-mandated epilogue. Murnau and screenwriter Carl Mayer convey everything entirely through visuals, through performances.
The complete lack of dialogue text is very refreshing, preventing the film from getting bogged down in endless reading breaks between images. The porter learns of his demotion to restroom attendant through a letter, and Murnau displays this letter onscreen. But when the porter gets to the part that is for him the key phrase — the humiliating line that attributes this change to his "age and frailty" — the camera tracks along the words, following his eye as he takes in this disheartening phrase.
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