The Last Command

After the success of Underworld, Paramount rewarded Sternberg with Emil Jannings-then considered the world's finest film actor-for The Last Command. Jannings plays an ex–Czarist general who finds himself reduced to working as an extra in a Hollywood film directed by another Russian émigré, his very enemy from Revolutionary days. Sternberg reinvents the general's grandeur and downfall in Russia, only to emphasize the status of the Hollywood extra in the film factories where, not unlike in the Czar's army, power-hungry moguls act on glorious fantasies to create real-life tragedy. Sternberg brilliantly achieves the reflection of one world (Hollywood) in another (Russia) totally alien to it. The Last Command is doubly interesting for its layers of irony and near-Pirandellian self-consciousness; characters and actors alike seem to skate willingly between absurd fiction and even more absurd reality.

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.