I was wondering if anyone on this board might be able to make suggestions of silent films/particular scenes that might illustrate these concepts:
Shocking the viewer
Teasing the viewer
Showing not telling
Many thanks in advance!
I'm currently working on a dissertation that involves the development of mechanical, electric, and eventually digital technologies in the United States and STRONG FEMALE LEADS. So far, it's been a wild ride and an amazing endeavor to start on my own. TO START, I'd love to communicate with a community of people who share my interests of silent film of the early 20th century. If you want to discuss a little on how these films were made and to what desired effect, that is an added bonus!
I've been watching silent films mostly from early opera singers and other women actresses who worked in Hollywood such as Geraldine Farrar and Mary Garden. I'm also looking into early talkies of figures, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. So far I'm intrigued with how early cinema developed with some of these great films as a young Cecil B. DeMille's Carmen, and Von Sternberg's films of Dietrich.
I plan to watch a series of films (out of sequence in year) and comment on them here. Please feel free to watch them alongside me. I can provide clips for the pivotal scenes if I can find them on Youtube. The one I'm starting with is Carmen by Cecil B. Demille. Released 1915, starring the most famous woman of the stage at the time, the Met's favorite prima donna Geraldine Farrar. There is an especially riveting scene with Farrar in this film in the "fight scene" where she attacks the writer Jeannie Macpherson, who was left bloody, shaken, and crying after the scene. This was quite a shift from the "prima donna" style of acting that was typically much more controlled and refined than this style of realism. It was considered one of the most important accomplishments for cinema to date, because of a young Cecil B. DeMille's skills as a director, and the star appeal of Geraldine Farrar. But also because film was not considered reputable for public consumption yet in the United States. This film helped convince the public and the critics...Stay tuned.
"The Butler" is a 1916 short film that Warner Brothers' currently owns. It stars Davy Don and Florence Williams. I'm assuming it's still around (I haven't seen it yet) because I doubt WB would cause such a fuss over a lost film. WB has sued TWC for using the title of "The Butler" for their new film starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah. A judge recently reversed the appeal by TWC (according to EW.com and imdb.com) so unless they want to pay $25,000 every day to promote the film, they'll have to change the title.
I think it's funny that even a little short silent film can still be important enough in this day and age. I read somewhere else that WB mainly made the fuss because they want the rights to "The Hobbit", but whatever. They won anyway. TWC will probably change the title to "Butler" or something instead.
Anyway, go silent films for still counting in this day and age - even if it's just to cause trouble. It just goes to show those big studios that you can't forget about any film - even if it's almost 100 years old!
EW released what they consider the top 100 films. Of course, not a lot of silents were on the list. "Sunrise", "The Gold Rush" and "Intolerance" might have been it (I'll have to check it out again. I'd post a link, but I'm crunched for time here. I'm sure someone can find it online).
What upset me the most though, was no Buster Keaton. I mean, I know Chaplin's number one, but where's the Keaton love? Keaton's films are so sweet, funny, full of great stunts and usually cleverly done. "Sherlock jr" would have been my pick, but most critics choose "The General". What does everyone else think?
I started watching silent films a couple years ago and have since seen all of Mary Pickford's films that are available on DVD or VHS, as well as Ben-Hur and Wings. I'd like to watch other silent films, too, but aren't sure where to start. Could someone please recommend some to me? I prefer drama to comedy, or a film with a mix of the two. Many thanks for any ideas!
I've heard through the grapevine that the only silent star represented this year is Ramon Novarro and it's on August 8th (my birthday!). Guess that means we'll see "Ben-Hur" at least. Wallace Beery (aug 17th) also started in some shorts, so maybe we'll see some of his - though doubtful.
I'm starting to really get into silent films, so I'll def have to check this out!