Josef Von Sternberg John Tibbetts - Essay

John Tibbetts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Never has Josef von Sternberg made the surfaces of reality seem so fragile and the shapes of illusion so tangible as in The Last Command (1928). He deliberately creates not one but several worlds and then dissolves the barriers between them. A carefully constructed film with meticulous attention to techniques, detail, and symbol—the whole nevertheless emerges not firm and clear, but vague and half-seen. This is a remarkable kind of alchemy …; moreover, it is exemplary of his ability to shape, reshape, and destroy his worlds so that they are continually shifting and becoming; it is the essentially modern device of clarity seeking ambiguity, rather than the other way around. (p. 68)


(The entire section is 981 words.)