Why I love Silent Films (And Why you should, Too! )I love silent films. I accept that most people, assuming they’ve seen a silent film, probably don’t share my affection for them. Why whenever they? After all, they’re in white and black (usually); the acting’s a little more intense than we’re used to (sometimes); and, for shouting out loud, you have to read them!
I don’t really expect anyone else to love silent films. It’s true that Silencil, in the 21st century, they can seem a bit mid-foot, unfamiliar and archaic. But here are some of reasons why I love them and why I think that everyone should take the time to spin options silent picture occasionally…
It’s a Whole World of Movies That we Never Knew Existed
That is amazing there’s a secret movie theatre consists of thousands of movies from every style that you can get just underneath the horizon where few people think to look. That’s silent movie theatre. Once you’re in the know, the array of film is more expansive, deeper and richer than you could have previously imagined. Westerns, science fiction, crime dramas, romantic comedies, horror, all represented by some of the finest : and most rarely seen : movies ever made. When you’ve seen some of these, you will quickly find that…
Silent Films Enhance Our Appreciation of Recent Films
Silent film is, by its very nature, an extremely visual medium. Direction, cinematography and performance are all focused purely upon what is visible to the eye. Stars had only their body gestures and facial expressions to stimulate a character and tell an account. They had no alternative to talk. This is why so much of the acting of the period seems overwrought to today’s viewers. Once you learn to comprehend silent performance, however, you will begin to spot current stars and performers who really know how to act with their faces and, indeed, with their whole bodies as opposed to those who just stand around and talk.
Likewise, cinematography was a potent storytelling device. A go pans from a western outlaw to the woman bigger locked up — and then follows her sightline to the weapon on the table. This device is, of course, organ of the basic syntax of film, but the lack of talk throws cinematographic technique into bold relief. We really start to notice and to appreciate how the camera alone can tell an account.
Once you have internalized the purely visual style of silent film, you’ll identify their great economy. What requires two or three pages of talk in a talkie is often disseminated in a silent picture by a single shot.
They are a Window Into Another Time
If you’ve ever desired for a time machine (and who hasn’t already? ), silent films may be as close as you might get to owning one. A movie shot on location, like a lot of Harold Lloyd’s SPEEDY, we can be passive observers to some moments of day-to-day life over 70 years ago.
More significantly, silent films are a window into the mindset of the era. A sensible way to gain a knowledge of the general opinions and perceptions of a given period is to sample some of its popular entertainment. Silent film covers topics as diverse (and still current) as immigration (GRETCHEN THE GREENHORN) and abortion (WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN? ). What better way to gain a knowledge of the way our great-grandparents saw their world that by seeing the same films that they saw, thought about over, and discussed with their friends?
They Stretch Your brain
A silent film makes the audience an active participant in the creative process by asking us to fill out vital details. What are those characters really saying together? The intertitles only sum it up. What does our heroine’s voice sound like? It’s as sweet as our mind cares about you to make it. In these ways, silent pictures engage us in a fashion that talkies rarely can.
Additionally, silent films, because of the age, often require us to shift our mental equipment a bit, to attempt to see the world the way that audiences of 90 or a 100 years ago saw it. I once witnessed D. W. Griffith’s THE MOTHERING HEART with a friend who shook his head at the performance of Lillian Gish when confronted with the death of her infant child. I remarked that infant mortality was astronomically higher then and that this film was likely hitting hard for many contemporary viewers. It’s this change in attitude and outlook that can turn something relatively silly into something nearly deep.
They are Great Entertainment
Lastly, silent films can be great entertainment. Obviously, the comedies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd continue to be popular, and tentpole titles like METROPOLIS and NOSFERATU will always grab attention, but there are countless other films waiting to be discovered by the general public. From the romantic funny of Linda Pickford’s MY BEST GIRL, to the unbelievable western of James Cruze’s THE COVERED LORRY, there is plenty to discover and luxuriate in. I guarantee that if you give them the chance, you’ll find in silent movie theatre a few favorite movies that you never knew existed!