A Discussion on Silent Films

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Ariana Lang, Aug 8, 2002.

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  1. Kitt327 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2000
    star 4
    One thing I've wondered about some silent films ... when the actors move their mouths, are they actually saying real lines? Sometimes you can lip read words like 'help!, but often the conversation scenes are done side on, so all you can see are their mouths going up and down.

    When you think about it, they could be talking about anything at all ;)
  2. Ariana Lang Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 1999
    star 5
    Actually, some deaf people who are lip readers say that what those people are talking about is sometimes shocking! Like they're gabbing about their sex lives while acting scared about getting run over a train.
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Occasionally, you can tell that they are really talking about what the situation calls for.

    In Sherlock, Jr. for instance, you can read a lot of the lines.
  4. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Just to foster a bit more discussion, I thought I'd post the silent films that have been honored by the American Film Institute.

    The following silent films appear on the AFI's list of the 100 Best Films:

    The Jazz Singer--hmm, while this one is called the first talky, I include it because it's mostly silent, except for a few musical numbers and one monologue from Al Jolson. That said, it's not bad. Any music lover at all, must see Al Jolson perform 'Mammie' and the ending shots in the tabernacle are quite moving.

    Modern Times--again, despite the musical number and a couple of lines of spoken dialogue, I must refer to this as a predominatly silent film. It's not my favorite Chaplin, but it has it's moments. Chaplin leading the parade inadvertently always makes me laugh and it certainly does have a lot of statements to make about the horrors we visit on ourselves in the name of technology.

    City Lights--my personal favorite Chaplin. One of his most consistently funny, but it also includes his signature pathos. I never thought suicide attempts could be so funny, and for the boxing match alone this one deserves a top spot as one of the greatest films ever made.

    The Gold Rush--second only to City Lights for laughs, this is another Chaplin masterpiece. The chicken scene, the fight over the gun, and Chaplin trying frantically to leave the cabin as the wind holds him in place are all riotious. An interesting snatch of pathos as Chaplin hears Auld Lang Syne being sung from the village. I'm not a big fan of the roll dance though.

    The Birth of a Nation--certainly groundbreaking technically, this film is still a slight disappointment. It's too long and the last hour especially drags too much. It is, however, fascinating as a piece of propaganda and the battle scenes are spectacularly done and very thrilling.

    Thoughts on those films?
  5. waheennay Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2000
    star 4
    I've seen all the Chaplin films you've mentioned. Has anyone seen Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS? That's an amazing early sci-fi movie. Or the Thief of Bagdad with Douglas Fairbanks? His adventure reminds me a little of a video game! He goes through different levels and has to defeat a different beast to get to each one. Plus he has to pick up magical objects to help him on his quest.
  6. yodafett999 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2000
    star 4
    Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and "M" are landmark films.

    Murnau's "Sunrise" and "Nosferatu" are excellent films.

    Allan Dwan's "Robin Hood" and "The Iron Mask" as well as Raoul Walsh's "Thief of Bagdad", all starring Douglas Fairbanks, are excellent.
  7. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    M isn't a silent movie, though. It is excellent though. :D
  8. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    Isn't the title of this thread an oxymoron?

    :D
  9. a. block Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 1999
    star 1
    Hitchcock said it, and I agree with him: every director should first learn filmmaking by shooting only silent films. That way there learn about the importance of the visual and not be so reliant on the sound to tell the story.

    I saw a Harold Lloyd movie a few sunday nights ago on TCM. I had never really heard of him, but it was pretty good. He does stunts like Keaton did. After the film, Robert Osbourn said that one of the stunts he did in the movie knocked him out for 5 minutes. No stunt men in those days!
  10. yodafett999 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2000
    star 4
    Heh, I forgot we were talking about silent films :p

    The rest of them still stand!
  11. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    The following silent films appear on the American Film Institute's List of the 100 Funniest films:

    The Navigator--one of Buster Keaton's weaker efforts. It lacks the narrative complexity that would make Our Hospitality and Steamboat Bill, Jr. so much fun. That said, plenty of great set pieces. Buster and the heroine trying to survive the first night alone on the boat, jumping at shadows, is the best sequence.

    The Freshman--never seen it.

    Sherlock, Jr.--a real classic for sure. Pure comic gold, packed into forty-five minutes. Groundbreaking use of fact meets fantasy, plus hilarious sequences. Love the game of pool Buster plays.

    City Lights--commented on above.

    Modern Times--commented on above.

    The Gold Rush--commented on above.

    The General--another great effort from Keaton, mining a train for all the comic potential it's worth. It's been a while since I've seen this one, but it's certainly a classic.

    Comments on those films? And up! :D
  12. Ariana Lang Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 1999
    star 5
    I saw Metropolis. I have it on DVD. I think the special effects are AMAZING for that old a film. And the premise is interesting too and set alot of precedents.
  13. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    The following silent films appear on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Most Thrilling films ever:

    Safety Last--never seen it.

    The Phantom of the Opera--never seen it.

    :( Comments on those films? And up! :D

    I've never seen Metropolis either. I want to though.
  14. Left My Heart In Dagobah Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 9, 2000
    star 3
    Interesting thread...

    I have seen only one silent film, Broken Blossoms, it starred Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp. I saw it on PBS years ago. I enjoyed it even though it was kind of sad. It was about a girl with an extremely abusive father.

    I think I'll try to find some of the movies mentioned here...I've always wanted to see Metropolis. And I love Greta Garbo but have never seen any of her silent films.

    :)
  15. Kitt327 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2000
    star 4
    I love the music in Broken Blossoms. If I had written it, the girl and the Chinese man would have sailed off to the East and raised a family ;)
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