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May 10

THE LAST LAUGH (1924) w/ Pipe Organ Soundtrack by Jeff Rapsis!

May 10 @ 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

THE LAST LAUGH (1924) w: Pipe Organ Soundtrack by Jeff Rapsis

With groundbreaking cinematography, F.W. Murnau’s THE LAST LAUGH (1924) is one of the crowning achievements of the German expressionist movement. It is a beautifully conceived fable about a working-class man whose illusions of power within the hierarchical system become shattered.

A stylized dramatization of the frustration and anguish of the working class, F.W. Murnau’s silent film The Last Laugh (1924) uses pioneering cinematic techniques to tell the poignant story of an aging hotel porter, brilliantly portrayed by Emil Jannings, who loses his sense of identity and pride within the hierarchical system once he is demoted.

The story encompasses class consciousness and more—an awareness that the Great War marked the beginning of the end of an era. Specifically, how the war exposed the nepotism, privilege, and backward incompetence of the officer class and the unfairness of a system that rewarded ancestry rather than accomplishment. The public (in Germany, England, and elsewhere) finally figured out that the officer’s uniform did not denote or bequeath character. Dispensing with the customary intertitles and filming while moving the camera in extraordinarily inventive ways, Murnau and his cinematographer, Karl Freund, transformed the language of film. The movie’s art director was Walter Röhrig, who had previously helped to create The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’s striking aesthetic. The Last Laugh succeeds in combining expressionist elements—such as extreme camera angles, distorted dream imagery, and disturbing light and shadow effects—with a complex psychological study of the main character in his fall from privilege.

About the Live Musical Score:

Jeff Rapsis is executive director of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, an educational non-profit based at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. He is a writer/editor, educator, composer, and performer specializing in creating live musical scores for silent film screenings. Rapsis has accompanied silent film programs in venues throughout New England since 2007. His technique is to create a set of original music in advance for each film and then improvise a score based on this material as the screening takes place. Outside New England, he has accompanied films at the New York Public Library’s “Meet the Musicmakers” series and the Kansas Silent Film Festival. Rapsis has also provided original music for several silent film DVD releases by Looser Than Loose Vintage Entertainment of Manchester, N.H., and scored the independent feature film Dangerous Crosswinds (2005). Jeff has previously performed six live film scores at Epsilon Spires for F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece “Sunrise,” Buster Keaton’s “Our Hospitality”, “It!” starring Clara Bow, Victor Sjöström’s “The Phantom Carriage””, The aerial adventure “Wings,” and Josef von Sternberg’s “The Last Command.”

Tickets at


May 10
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM


Epsilon Spires
190 Main Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301 United States
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Epsilon Spires
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