Wednesday, August 15, 2012

on silent films (and why I adore them)

One of my favorite activities when I was a teenager was to go see movies. During the summer there were always at least three films I had lined up to see on opening night, usually at the midnight showing. The films my friends and I went to see were the ones that are typically labeled "blockbusters" because of how popular they are. Film franchises like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and Chronicles of Narnia were what I always went to see. All the superhero franchises, too. I preferred to see these films on the big screen because they always had sweeping scores, many of them had spectacular explosions, and they were just overall good experiences.

I never went to see comedies, dramas, horror, or anything along those lines. I always felt that usually those movies weren't really worth my eight dollars and that if I wanted to watch them, I could rent them for a buck or two or even get them free from my library. Plus, and I find this especially true in the comedies, there aren't many redeeming aspects in movies that are made today that aren't of the "epic" variety. Too much sex, language, drugs, etc. I know it happens, but I certainly don't need gratuitous amounts of it put in front of my eyes. (This goes for violence as well, which is why I'm not always keen on R-rated films that have the rating for violence.)

So, on my movie shelf, there are mostly those epics listed above. But my other favorites are movies based on classic books. I have a few versions of Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, etc. No, they aren't always as faithful to the books as I would like, but that doesn't necessarily change how I feel about the film. Different art mediums, after all. For movies like Narnia, and Harry Potter, I take a lot of issue with the changes, and honestly, with good reason. You can read about that in this post (which, ironically, I wrote exactly a year ago).

But the point of this post was to talk about why I love silent films. First, I adore almost anything that is old. Second, black and white. Third, they were clean. I can't stress this enough. Yes, old Hollywood had its problems...but the films themselves weren't all about how much sex you can show onscreen and get away with, or how much language can be peppered throughout the dialogue.  And as for the dialogue...well, to be in a silent film, you really and truly had to know how to act. Most of today's actors and actresses in Hollywood have little to none in the way of talent. I don't care how you feel about it, it's the truth. In silent films, it was all about the gestures, the facial expressions, the way you carried yourself.

If you've never watched a silent film, I encourage you to give one a try. And if you're really not sure where to start, just watch The Artist, the film that was made last year. Now that was an excellent film. What a beautiful tribute to the beginning of filmmaking. I own the DVD, by the way, and if you live near me, I'll gladly let you come over and watch it with me. ^_~

There is so much more that I could say, but I will stop here. I will leave you with this thought: Think about a time when people's private lives were not the focal point of their careers; think about a time when the focus was truly on the movie making process, and new discoveries were being made everyday; think about a time when you could watch a film as a family and not have to worry overmuch about what your children might see or hear. In our over-sexed and amoral society, I prefer to look back at a time when people didn't flaunt their sin or their bad choices.

And sometimes, it's nice to have to place your whole focus on something. When watching a silent film, you truly have to watch it. You can't just listen or you won't get anything out of it. So, take some time and try watching a silent film (particularly from the early 1920s). You might find you like it.

No comments:

Post a Comment