Herr Tartüff (Tartuffe) (1925)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

How typical of the great German director F. W. Murnau that he used Moliere's scathing satirical comedy Tartuffe as a launching pad for an extended exercise in expressionism. Emil Jannings plays the title character, a religious hypocrite who capitalizes upon the piety of others to line his own pockets. Lusting after Elmire (Lil Dagover), the daughter of gullible millionaire Orgon (Werner Krauss), Tartuffe all but convinces Orgon to hand over Elmire -- and all his land holdings -- on a silver platter in exchange for Divine absolution. On the verge of triumphantly taking over Orgon's mansion and tossing the old man out, Tartuffe is foiled by the deux ex machina arrival of an emissary of the King, who arrests the "hero" for his chicanery (this final scene was imposed upon Moliere by the French censors; originally, Tartuffe got away with his crimes). In his efforts to make the property more cinematic, Murnau adds a framing story concerning an old woman who tries to cheat an old man out of a fortune while the two of them watch a theatrical performance of the Moliere play. Chock full of offbeat camera angles, forced-perspective sets, and spiderlike shadows, Tartuff owes more to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari than it does to Moliere. Emil Jannings went on to collaborate with Murnau in the director's next production, a lavish adaptation of Goethe's Faust. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Lil Dagover
as Elmire
Emil Jannings
as Tartuffe
Hermann Picha
as Herr Rat
Rose Valetti
as his housekeeper
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Herr Tartüff (Tartuffe)

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (2)

The mise en scene is beautifully modulated and the performances -- by Emil Jannings, Lil Dagover, and Werner Krauss, among others -- are first-rate.

Full Review… | February 13, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Whatever else may be said about it, the picture is heavy and primitive.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

One of silent cinema's most rigorous formalist exercises

Full Review… | April 19, 2010

While the film is arguably minor Murnau, it remains highly agreeable and full of the director's characteristic visual inventiveness, albeit on a smaller scale.

Full Review… | December 19, 2004
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

One of the first post-modern films (in which characters watch and are aware of films).

Full Review… | February 20, 2004
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Herr Tartüff (Tartuffe)


A morality play towards hypocrisy, in this case due to religious fanaticism in the name of the phony. The mockery heavyload is pointed towards hypocrisy not towards religion. The religion itself its just the crooks method. I can only speculate if Murnau vision on religion is poision.

Anders Ask
Anders Ask

I love how this movie uses Tartuffe as a story within a story to warn the audience of hypocrites. The character who's saying it, breaks the fourth wall to tell us this warning as well, which was cool. Plus the expressionistic style isn't as pronounced as in some other films, but it's there. Especially in the guy who plays Tartuffe. Murnau sure made some interesting films, I recommend seeing this movie, it's good.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

It was a silent movie, the first one I've ever seen. I think that it was pretty enjoyable actually. They sure picked a creepy guy to play Tartuffe.

Megan S
Megan S

Super Reviewer

Herr Tartüff (Tartuffe) Quotes

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