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Movie Challenge Week 3: Silence is Golden

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Movie Challenge Week 3: Silence is Golden

Old 03-28-04, 12:12 PM
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I watched The Circus (Chaplin, 1928). I thought I'd seen this one, but as I sat to watch I realized that I hadn't. Not Chaplin's best film, not his funniest, but there were several good gags.
Old 03-28-04, 12:14 PM
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Watched London After Midnight.

I was very dissapointed to be frank. Lon looked better than ever, but the ending was a complete farce, and basically made my appreciation of the film (or re-creation) very difficult.
Old 03-28-04, 06:02 PM
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Took me a little longer to answer Groucho's challenge this week, because I chose D.W.Griffith's epic (at 197 minutes) Intolerance.

This is an early silent so its not as sophisticated - it took German expressionism to really make silents good. But, Griffith was probably the first great director, but of course his reputation will forever bear a black mark due to his previous film, Birth of a Nation.

Intolerance is considered his answer to the critics of BOAN and it is a spectacle to behold - the cross-cutting, the scope of the sets all make this one of the most famous films ever made. Just the Babylonian story makes this film a must-see.

The thing that mars the film is the hopeless conservatism of Griffith. It's laudable that he chose to condemn religious persecution over the years, carefully avoiding racial overtones this time. The one group to suffer this time are the reformers and suffargettes. And of course, like in BOAN, JC is on his side. Thankfully, the Jersulaem story didn't take up too much screen time.

I'd rank this a 7 out of 10 - but because of its length many, like me, will probably want to break it up over a couple of days.
Old 03-28-04, 07:45 PM
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Originally posted by MrN

Intolerance is considered his answer to the critics of BOAN and it is a spectacle to behold - the cross-cutting, the scope of the sets all make this one of the most famous films ever made. Just the Babylonian story makes this film a must-see.

The thing that mars the film is the hopeless conservatism of Griffith. It's laudable that he chose to condemn religious persecution over the years, carefully avoiding racial overtones this time. The one group to suffer this time are the reformers and suffargettes. And of course, like in BOAN, JC is on his side. Thankfully, the Jersulaem story didn't take up too much screen time.
A director's art should stand on its own merits.
Old 03-28-04, 07:53 PM
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I watched two silent movies this weekend. The first was Lang's Metropolis. I suppose my expectations were too high -- while this is a great film, and of historic importance, it's a bit simplistic by today's standards. Still, it helped pioneer cinematic techniques that are still in use today (particularly the use of light and shadow), and it had a message deeper than a simple plot. I can't help but wonder, though, how much better this film would be if it hadn't been butchered by its distributors -- there's about a half hour of footage missing from even the longest cut, and the story really suffers for the missing footage.

I also watched The Son of the Shiek starring Rudolph Valentino in one of the first (the first?) movie sequels. It's a standard adventure movie of the type that Hollywood is still churning out almost 70 years later, complete with comic relief sidekick. It's a lot more simplistic than Metropolis, and it lacks even the sophistication of that film -- there's no attempt to use lighting or composition to convey mood. On the plus side, it does have Valentino in a fake beard (he plays a double role, as both the Shiek from the original film and the titular son from this film.
Old 03-28-04, 09:42 PM
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I watched Metropolis today and i'm not really sure what to think about it. It seemed as if a lot of the really important parts of the film are the ones that are lost, especially at the end. After watching it I now appreciate sound in movies even more.
Old 03-28-04, 11:01 PM
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We watched the next movie on the Harold Lloyd tape: For Heaven's Sake. It was kind of short, but it was almost 60 minutes. Lloyd is a millionaire who becomes involved in an inner-city mission.

I've heard that Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin would have competitions for using the least title cards in a movie. Lloyd obviously didn't play. There was a lot of reading in this movie. It had a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but the situations always ran a little too long.
Old 03-28-04, 11:53 PM
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gonna try to find time to watch intolorance this week. oh and the runtime is 177 according to tcm.
Old 03-29-04, 01:49 AM
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Originally posted by Scot1458
A director's art should stand on its own merits.

I guess you don't subscribe to the auteur theory then? Or am I misunderstanding your comment?


Rypro 525, don't know about TCM's run-time, but the Kino DVD definitely runs 197+ minutes.
Old 03-29-04, 02:21 AM
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I watched The Passion of Joan of Arc yesterday and I was impressed. I watched it with the Voices of Light music, and although the music was inspired by the film and not written to picture it went very well with the film. Most of the acting was very good, but I thought that Maria Falconetti overacted a bit as Joan. The movie seemed to have a very theatrical feel which makes sense since it was the early years of film. Overall I enjoyed the experience.
Old 03-29-04, 09:47 AM
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Saw E.A. Dupont's Piccadilly featuring Anna May Wong with live piano. All in all a great experience, the print shown was a sparkling 2003 restoration that really made Dupont's (surprisingly) agile camera sing. Wong is great as is her rival Gilda Gray. The film also features Charles Laughton's film debut that made me think of the end of Monty Python's Meaning of Life ("eet's wafer-thin").

It's a funny and bittersweet movie that may go a bit all over the place but nonetheless a fine feature from the silent era. The interracial romance angle is handled maturely. A nice contrast to this film may be the somber and sad, but restrained, Broken Blossoms directed by D.W. Griffith.
Old 03-29-04, 09:50 AM
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unfortunatly, the thing didn't record for what ever reason, so i guess i got to wait till next sunday.
Old 03-29-04, 10:58 AM
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I also watched The Passion of Joan of Arc to complete this challange. I have owned this DVD for months but have been waiting for the right time to watch it. I thought the movie was fantastic. I loved everything about it, especially Falconetti's evocative performance. The look of rapture in her eyes will stay with me for a long time. I was very moved by the film. The part that got to me the most was when she finally condemns her inquisitors as being sent by the Devil to torture her.

The Voices of Light Soundtrack really worked well with the film heightening the tension and drama throughout. The score during the torture room scene and the finale of the movie were particularly striking.

I was surprised as to how much of the movie is shot in close-ups especially with the amount of set design they obviously did but it worked well. Time to finally get around to watching my Dreyer Box set.

Bring on Week 4!
Old 03-29-04, 10:01 PM
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I watched the third of three Buster Keaton tapes today, with Our Hospitality and Sherlock Jr. I enjoyed both films, but I found the music on Sherlock Jr. to be very out of place and distracting. This is the Kino release, does anyone know if they changed the music for the DVD version?
Old 03-30-04, 01:34 AM
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Originally posted by littlefuzzy
I watched the third of three Buster Keaton tapes today, with Our Hospitality and Sherlock Jr. I enjoyed both films, but I found the music on Sherlock Jr. to be very out of place and distracting. This is the Kino release, does anyone know if they changed the music for the DVD version?
Sherlock Jr. on the Kino DVD is by the Club Foot Orchestra. I'm not sure if it's the same on the VHS, but it probably is.

AMC (American Movie Classics) used to show Sherlock Jr. with a great score by a group called Vince Giordanno and the Nighthawks. Unfortunately AMC doesn't show it anymore.
Old 03-30-04, 01:54 PM
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Originally posted by sundog
Saw E.A. Dupont's Piccadilly featuring Anna May Wong with live piano. All in all a great experience, the print shown was a sparkling 2003 restoration that really made Dupont's (surprisingly) agile camera sing. Wong is great as is her rival Gilda Gray. The film also features Charles Laughton's film debut that made me think of the end of Monty Python's Meaning of Life ("eet's wafer-thin").

It's a funny and bittersweet movie that may go a bit all over the place but nonetheless a fine feature from the silent era. The interracial romance angle is handled maturely. A nice contrast to this film may be the somber and sad, but restrained, Broken Blossoms directed by D.W. Griffith.
Hey, we're silent film buddies. I posted that I saw this film on the first page... where did you see this with live piano? My print had a music track that barely applied to the on-screen action. Very distracting IMO.

This was my first Dupont film and was very impressed by his sophisticated camera movment. Fantastic stuff.
Old 03-30-04, 02:04 PM
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I saw it at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. Whenever they feature a silent film they have the piano accompaniment. I also saw Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari there with live piano. Though I missed Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box.
Old 03-30-04, 02:16 PM
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Originally posted by Damfino
Sherlock Jr. on the Kino DVD is by the Club Foot Orchestra. I'm not sure if it's the same on the VHS, but it probably is.

AMC (American Movie Classics) used to show Sherlock Jr. with a great score by a group called Vince Giordanno and the Nighthawks. Unfortunately AMC doesn't show it anymore.
Yeah, it was the Club Foot Orchestra...
Old 03-31-04, 12:09 AM
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I've never watched a silent film all the way through - but being one to never back away from a challenge I watched "Sunrise" finally and was COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY!

I can see what Hitchcock meant when he said that sound killed "pure cinema." What an amazing achievement. I'm definitely going to check out more Mernau, and may finally finish Nosferatu.
Old 03-31-04, 01:44 AM
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Originally posted by jough
I've never watched a silent film all the way through - but being one to never back away from a challenge I watched "Sunrise" finally and was COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY!

I can see what Hitchcock meant when he said that sound killed "pure cinema." What an amazing achievement. I'm definitely going to check out more Mernau, and may finally finish Nosferatu.

There's also a famous quote from Truffaut - he said "Cinema was just about perfect and then they invented sound."

I would highly recommend Murnau's The Last Man.

Last edited by MrN; 03-31-04 at 11:28 AM.
Old 03-31-04, 09:52 AM
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Originally posted by sundog
I saw it at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. Whenever they feature a silent film they have the piano accompaniment. I also saw Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari there with live piano. Though I missed Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box.
I work in the office of an independent theater in Brookline, MA - occasionally a band called The Devil Music Orchestra creates an accompaniment to a silent film and plays it here.

This month they're doing The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I can't wait to see it.

Apparently they started doing this here a couple years ago and made a name for themselves after it was such a success. I don't know if they ever go to Chicago but they're very entertaining.

Live piano accompaniment just brings so much life to a silent film as opposed to the often irrelevant music track.

I knew I should have moved to Chicago instead of Boston. D'oh.
Old 03-31-04, 10:24 AM
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and if you're in DC the Louise Brooks retrospective will also be shown with live piano accompaniment at the National Gallery of Art (free of charge I might add). I will of course will miss these since I will be visiting my sister in the midwest at somepoint in May.

Pandora's Box (Die Büchse der Pandora / Lulu)
May 16 at 4:30 p.m.
German director G. W. Pabst spotted Louise Brooks' charismatic appeal in Hollywood films of the 1920s and invited her to portray Lulu, the femme fatale in Die Büchse der Pandora. A character from Frank Wedekind's expressionist play, Brooks is all the more beguiling for never being aware of her powers. New materials from the original version were discovered at the Gosfilmofond archive in Moscow and were combined with an earlier German restoration for the most complete print to date. The new musical score for two pianos is performed live under Gillian Anderson's direction (G. W. Pabst, 1928, 120 minutes).


Diary of a Lost Girl (Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen)
May 22 at 4:00 p.m.
Louise Brooks' success in Europe inspired her to continue on in Diary of a Lost Girl, G. W. Pabst's dark odyssey of a seduced young woman who eventually finds herself--a barely veiled allegory of Weimar Germany. Attacked by press and censors alike, the film suffered merciless cuts and was even given an alternate ending. This latest restoration, the most accurate reflection to date of the director's intentions, was compiled from source materials in Belgium, France, Germany, and Uruguay (G. W. Pabst, 1929, silent with piano accompaniment by Ray Brubacher, 98 minutes).


Miss Europe (Prix de beauté)
May 23 at 4:30 p.m.
In the summer of 1929, Louise Brooks returned to New York, only to be summoned back to Europe to star in Prix de beauté, the fanciful story of a typist who secretly enters her own photograph in a beauty contest and wins. Produced in the transitional period between silents and talkies, Prix de beauté was conceived as a silent film. Until now, however, it has been viewable only with postsynchronized music, effects, and dialogue. Materials recently discovered in Milan have made possible the reconstruction of the original silent print, thus restoring the composition of the frames before a soundtrack was added (Augusto Genina, 1930, silent with piano accompaniment by Ray Brubacher, 108 minutes).
Old 03-31-04, 10:55 AM
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And to add to silent film resources there's The Silent Film Society of Chicago. They usually run a festival in the summer.

http://www.silentfilmchicago.com/

Most of the time they do organ accompaniment (that's where I saw Broken Blossoms) and the occasional live orchestra.
Old 03-31-04, 12:07 PM
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I fear we may be getting a little off topic but there is also a silent festival in San Francisco in July...

http://www.silentfilm.org/home.htm

This one is special because the venue is The Castro Theater -- an authentic silent era theater that first opened in the early 20s.
Old 04-08-04, 01:28 AM
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Slowly but surely catching up . . . watched Metropolis today. Really good movie. Observations:

- The special effects were astounding for the time period, especially considering much of it was done by hand.
- Surprised to see how heavily it was influenced by Christianity.
- Was really sorry to see how much of the original film was lost.

I need to set aside some more time to look into the special features . . . there looks to be some great information on it.

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