love

Author Topic: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups  (Read 12790 times)

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 16746
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2010, 11:49:54 PM »
Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926) -

I am not well versed in silent film, though I have seen some of the heavy hitters (Battleship Potemkin, Birth of a Nation, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). I have always somewhat sensed that the style is somewhat hard to stay focused on. I love Battleship P. and Caligari, but most of that has to do with stunning visuals. So I have before me a film of German folk figure from the director of that other famous silent film I have not seen, Sunrise. The story begins off in the best way possible. The audience is introduced to Faust and his ways, but also to an angel and Mephisto, the demon devil. The two make a wager that if Mephisto can turn Faust to evil his the earth shall be. I love this dark, good v. evil business, and the film does it so well. The acting in silent films is usually always over the top and it is no different here, though it is something I have come to accept and let slide when it comes to silents.

So you have this great set up with the wager and Mephisto goes into a town, ravaged by the plague and we begin to deal with issues of faith, which again is awesome and dealt with really well. So Mephisto begins to tempt Faust and offers him a one day trial to help cure the plague in essence, but when faced with curing in the name of Jesus, it is found out that he is league with the devil. So then Mephisto tricks him into letting him turn back the clock on his age and gets so tempted by his youth he turns in the one day trial for eternity. Great, I'm following along and loving it. So dark, so contemplative and theme oriented. But once he turns young again, the film lost me. Now listen, I have a heart and I like to think it is a big one and I love romance and all of its forms, but when he turns young and the romance begins it lost me thematically. I did not understand why Faust could fall for Mephisto's trick and be okay with it. And even if I accept that, what does the romance have to do with it, "how will it end?"

So needless to say I loved it all the way through about halfway, then I went cold on it and lost focus on what was going on. The ending, the return to the angel and Mephisto, the resolution of the wager was a return to form, but the elongated romance in the middle killed it for me. I still liked it and I liked it a lot, but would not pass over into the great category, though I certainly appreciated it and can see why it may be considered great by others. The ending, coupled with the romance in the middle left me almost feeling cheated. It did not seem fair. I do not know if that makes sense, but that is how I felt.

***
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 25564
  • "Anime is for jerks."
    • Creative Criticism
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2010, 10:05:02 AM »
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) [Germany] dir. Lotte Reiniger



This film has historical interest for several reasons. Many consider this to be the first full length animated feature. At the least, it comes 11 years before Snow White and the Seven Dwarves which Iíve always heard was the first animated feature film (kinda like the whole first sound film being the Jazz Singer). Also, the director of the film is a woman, which I think is interesting given that you really donít hear about female directors that much in the silent era (or today, for that matter).



The actual film is based off of one of the stories in the collection of 1001 Arabian Nights. While I havenít read any of these stories, I have the feeling that the film was loosely based on the tale because it seems like it throws in so many story elements from so many different stories. Aladdin shows up at one point, as does the medusa. Thereís a good witch and an evil sorcerer. There are also these flying crafts that seem akin to Icarusí wings. Maybe this is all in the story, but it seems like a hodge-podge of story elements that are loosely related to each other, if at all.



But, when it comes to the animation, this film is fantastic. Reiniger made this fantastic technique similar to shadow puppets. Silhouette figures are cut out and I guess they molded them into pieces so that they could articulate them. The result is this fantastic range of movement and transformation that makes for a lot of visually tantalizing scenes. Some of the effects are cool and, furthermore, have an interesting bearing on the story.



Combined this with color tinting, and the film is a fantastic visual experience. On that level, I enjoyed the film but I never could get into the story. Heck, half the time I wasnít even sure why Achmed was off doing something to begin with. The overall story makes sense, but from moment to moment, I wasnít always that sure what I was watching. It was cool to watch, at least, so I found it to be an solid experience and a great animation style at the least.
"It's all research." -roujin

Emiliana

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2239
  • Life is a Cabaret!
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2010, 10:21:59 AM »
I hope to get this on Saturday (it was on my wishlist, and I hope people found it). If not, I'll get it for myself next week.

I have only skimmed over your review, but based on the screenshots alone I am really looking forward to seeing it.

alexarch

  • Godfather
  • *****
  • Posts: 6995
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2010, 11:09:26 AM »
Metropolis - In 1927 and an unnamed future, Brigitte Helm tempts the masses in a dual role that delighted this jaded twenty-first century viewer ó pasties, visible ribs, [noembed]Kevin Aviance-worthy choreography, costumes and set design[/noembed].

What I Liked: Most everything.

ó I went in knowing Lucas had borrowed a lot from Metropolis, but I was surprised at how much. The Machine Man / C3P0 comparison was obvious. What wasn't was a segment where Freder, the central protagonist, gets trapped in a maze of opening and closing doors. The scene played very closely to the scene of Skywalker's entrance in the Cloud City in Empire. Doors open to invite him deeper into the heart of the trap and close immediately behind him. That's just one example; there were others.

ó Brigitte Helm - She is introduced in the opening scene as Maria, a typical Virgin Mary figure, imploring Freder to look down on the downtrodden masses below. I kind of dismissed her at this point. Then when she takes the role of the Machine Man with Boobs, she surprised me. Yes, if the acting style were replicated today it would be high camp, but there was something in the performance that had me genuinely creeped out. She thrusts her exposed ribs out, hunches her back, closes one eye ó perfect for the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Instead, she is dressed in flashy 1920's high fashion. Put the Hunchback in a flapper, and you got a really crazy/awesome/creepy performance.

ó Choreography - The scenes of the workers working the machines were right out of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" and Madonna's "Express Yourself" videos. The opening scene, as one group of workers marched double-time behind another group marching half-time, was just awesome.

ó Everything else, though my reasons for liking this movie may piss off some hardcore movie buffs. I was delighted in a sort of ironic, post-pop, post-ironic, post, post, post way.

That said, there were some moments of genuine, non-ironic, delight. This movie took over a year to complete. It was the 20's version of a summer tentpole, and it showed. The sets, though not up to today's standards, were pretty amazing. Same with the special effects.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing, or if something, I'd have to really dig to pick something out. I was really, really fortunate in my dictation.

Kevin Aviance - FILMSPOTTER!y

 Bjork- Big Time Sensuality
« Last Edit: June 11, 2010, 07:57:47 PM by alexarch »

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 21837
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2010, 11:47:37 AM »
Yay. Definitely the stand out silent film that I've seen. Looking forward to seeing the longer, restored version at some point.

Beavermoose

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 4901
  • Samsonite! I was way off!
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2010, 10:39:02 PM »
Sunrise has been watched. ;D
Will write something up within the week.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 07:51:17 AM by Beavermoose »

BlueVoid

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1834
    • Movie Fodder
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2010, 09:56:54 AM »
The Kid (1921) - Charlie Chaplain
All in all, a brilliant film and will probably sneak into my top 100. Very many thanks to BlueVoid for dictating this to me.

Glad you liked it Cyr.  Great write up.  I love father/son movies, so I will have to check this one out.  It's great making someone else test the waters for you. :)
Former blog on FlickChart: The Depths of Obscurity
Letterboxd 
iCM
Twitter

Clovis8

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 11720
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2010, 03:10:12 PM »
Wings (1927)



While I knew this was the first film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture I did not have high hopes going in. I have no idea why. It is amazingly great and far surpasses anything you probably think about it. For it's time the scale and epic nature is amazing. It is shot in multiple countries, had dozens of great aerial fight scenes, and brilliant practical effects. I guess that is why it cost $2 million to make in 1927!

I dont know my war film history very well but this one must have set the template for all to come. It has the love story, the training scenes, the brotherhood, the agony of death, epic battle scenes and touching human stories to back it all up.

Add to that the first even male-male kiss on film, female and male nudity, and real violence and it is very hard to remember this was made in 1927.

Sure it feels dated, but how could it not. If you are able to watch it in the context of it's time it is really great.

You can watch this for free on youtube;
Wings (1927) - Part 01

It is well worth it.

Grade: A-

tinyholidays

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 3715
  • It's a hard world for little things.
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2010, 03:14:57 PM »
Wings (1927)

Add to that the first even male-male kiss on film, female and male nudity, and real violence and it is very hard to remember this was made in 1927.

Whoa, what?? Double feature with Boogie Nights coming up! No lie, y'all.

Clovis8

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 11720
Re: June 2010 MDC Silent Films: Write ups
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2010, 03:18:55 PM »
Wings (1927)

Add to that the first even male-male kiss on film, female and male nudity, and real violence and it is very hard to remember this was made in 1927.

Whoa, what?? Double feature with Boogie Nights coming up! No lie, y'all.

Not too get your hopes too high. :D

The nudity is momentary for both sexes and the male-male kiss is purely platonic.