The moment you see THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, you see rich inspiration for Hollywood. It is not only the look and movements of the Joker but the very face of horror cinema itself. To this day it has stuck with the industry. It has left such a deep resonance, that some film makers cant help but allude to the film unknowingly. From its visual motif that has haunted our soul to the pathos which drips from its eyes.

Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt), is a carnival sideshow performer. Its in 17th-century England and this was not uncommon. But his speciality is. His face has been mutilated into a permanent, ghoulish grin. Gwynplaine life is a row of people judging.  The blind Dea (Mary Philbin) is his only friend. She never judges him but it might be because she has never seen him. Gwynplaine falls for her and cant see that he is unworthy of her love. When a secret about his heritage is revealed and his link to Queen Anne is exposed, Gwynplaine must choose between richness of love or the gold.

For some silent cinema is a task. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is possibly one of the easier films to enter the art with. Its the fluidity of the visual space that does this but I also think other elements are just as valuable. Paul Leni seems to express emotion visually with a gravity that crosses time. Veidt performs with a humanity that is tender and profound. Then you have the understated Philbin, who tugs and ebbs your heartstrings.


I am not overly taken with the 1080p of the 4K. I just feel that it has a bloomed light level or white out that drenched the image with white, that can sometimes make for a over white image. I think the 4K has corrected this but in my opinion it has a problem that sometimes jarred with my experience.


I loved Berklee School of Music score for the film. It peaks and pulls correctly and has a lovely fusion of visual and action. Kim Newman is detailed but he seems to walk along lines well drawn and discussed. Probably this makes sense. Paul Leni and “The Man Who Laughs” is exceptional. Well informed and extracts Leni from the film. Good grief it is so compelling. David Cairns and Fiona Watson essay is too short but very good at making a case for a lot more time spent with the film.


  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from Universal’s 4K restoration
  • Uncompressed LPCM 2.0 (stereo) score by the Berklee School of Music
  • Uncompressed LPCM 2.0 (mono) 1928 movietone score
  • A brand new interview with author and horror expert Kim Newman
  • A brand new video essay by David Cairns and Fiona Watson
  • Paul Leni and “The Man Who Laughs” – featurette on the production of the film
  • Rare stills gallery
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Travis Crawford, and Richard Combs

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