The Last Command stands on the precipice of two auteurs. On the one hand, it is distinctly the vision of director Josef von Sternberg, with his overly romantic sense of narrative expression, which privileges style above all else. At the same time, the film is undeniably under the influence of its star, Emil Jannings... He came to represent a dying breed, the final remnant of classical German respectability that had been disappearing since the country's loss in World War I and the ensuing economic depression... Change was blooming and so was Jannings’ career—his characters, however, were most certainly wilting.
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.