Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Silent Movies 102

To get ready for my forthcoming novel The Silent Treatment (you can catch the first chapter here: Chapter 1), I thought I'd share a few more silent movies with you, such as the oldest surviving one:

When I started watching silent films, I got hooked on the comedies -- namely Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The more in depth I got, though, the more I connected with the German Expressionism films because of the emotion in them. They weren't quite so goofy. Also, as silents matured through the 20s, the technique of filming and acting became absolutely gorgeous before plunging into the world of "talkies".

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
Not even sure when I saw this movie first, but I was captivated. Everything about this film is unrealistic, and that's what makes it beautiful. The sets are painted and angular. The characters are something out of a nightmare. [93 year old SPOILER ALERT] The twist ending in the mental asylum brings all the strange elements together, since the entire story was being narrated by a "crazy" person.

I like this story so much that I've thought about adapting it into a novel. It would be a lot of fun (and not much of a stretch) to make this a murder mystery and create my own new twist.

Metropolis (1926)
Everyone who knows me knows I love this movie. Stealing my answer from The Lisas' blog interview:
I love a lot of movies, but I always go back to Metropolis from 1926. It was never an ordinary movie for me. The first copy I saw was a poorly presented public domain DVD I bought for about $5. The plot didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the visuals were a real treat. After some research, I found out that after its release, the film was truncated, and the plot veered into some strange territory because it did so poorly at the box office. So, I tracked down the novel it was based off of, and it was a whole new experience. The characters made sense, missing scenes put others into perspective, and most of all, it was how the movie was supposed to have been seen (the director’s wife wrote the novel at the same time the movie was being made). 
Throughout the years, pieces of “missing” scenes have been found in various film museums around the world and plugged back where they belong. Now that the film has been restored to almost its full length (and with the correct plot), I feel like it hasn’t just been a nice movie, but something lovely I witnessed being rebuilt.

Sunrise (1927)
A sweet movie about a husband and wife falling in love with each other again. The film starts out with the husband conspiring with his mistress to kill the wife ... so they have a lot to overcome.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Even if you know nothing about the history of this character (or care), the look of the film will blow you away. Originally, it was meant to be watched completely silent (i.e. no soundtrack), but in 1995, Richard Einhorn wrote a stunning score for the film which even stands alone as a great piece of music.
Because this movie came at the end of the silent era, the cinematography is gorgeous. The acting style (while extremely emotional), is much more natural than films from even a decade before. [581 year old spoiler!] You'd even swear they were burning the actress at the end.

Asphalt (1929)
This movie stars the lead actor from Metropolis, and it's a fun movie about a cop who falls in love with a thief.

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