The Film (4.5/5)
For this review, I will be referring to the film under the English title Variety. When I first became aware of this movie, it sounded really interesting to me and requested to review it. My instinct was that I was going to enjoy this picture and I am a fan of several silent films. My hunch was right!
Variety is wonderful, sexy, silent picture starring Emil Jannings(The Blue Angel) as Boss Huller and Maly Delschaft(Beacon) as his wife. Boss Huller, having spent ten years in jail decides to talk to the warden his tragic story, something he wants to get off his chest. We then follow Huller into his flashback for the remainder of the film. We find out that Huller was a married man, with a child, whom he leaves for a very seductive, beautiful girl Berta-Marie (Lya De Putti, The Scarlet Lady). With her lusty pouty face, he is completely smitten over her and practically does everything she asks of him. They run a trapeze act together, and things are happy between the two of them, but she then gets romantically involved with Artinelli (Warwick Ward, Deadlock) who had also become part of the act. Huller learns of her infidelity and decides to take his anger out on her lover Artinelli, murdering him in cold blood. Huller goes to jail for murder.
Variety is one of the great rediscovered classics from the silent era. This is fantastic film with both superior direction acting, especially from Emil Jannings, who at the end, his character of Huller becomes enraged, with the camera focusing on his crazy, evil eyes as he gazes into the face of Artinelli and later Berta-Marie. His gaze is even more frightening than those in horror movies. Variety is one of many films that was part of the “German Expressionist “era. The film boasts quite a few scenes that imply erotica; with so much hugging, kissing and other implied sexual acts.
This was another film that was way ahead of its time, with sexual overtones, immoral characters, jealous rages, betrayal and murder. Even the cinematography with amazing shots of the trapeze act with the camera up and close to the characters while on the trapeze were ahead of its time. There are so many great camera shots throughout, and beautiful scenery that make this film even more amazing.
For the German version, Eureka has done a marvelous job with the restoration of Variety and the picture quality is just stunning. The film is in its original aspect ratio of 1:33:1, in 1080p with an MPEG-4 AVC video encode. It has been restored in 2K definition and it shows a lot of detail, and clarity. The film isn’t black and white but more of a sepia color, which is really nice. There are a few vertical lines here and there, along with some print damage and speckles but for a movie from 1925 this looks fantastic. The American cut of the film isn’t quite as good, due to a lower bitrate and has more of an orange look to it. The image is still sharp but the orange dominates everything which isn’t as visually appealing as the German version.
The audio used for the German version of Variety is Music LPCM 2.0 stereo. It’s used for all three soundtracks and scores which are from The Tiger Lilies, Johanes Contag and Stephen Horne. For the American Version Music DTS 2.0 stereo is sued. There are English subtitles for the German intertitles
No extras really other than this release has two versions of the film, the American and German cuts and the three musical scores in the German cut of the films. I suppose that counts as ‘extras’ to some degree but there are no commentaries, trailers, or interviews for this release
Variety is an amazing film, given an amazing release from Eureka. For those who are very much into German Expressionism and silent films, I highly recommend this release.