Archive for category: Silent Cinema

Videophiled Classics: Dziga Vertov – ‘The Man with the Movie Camera’

13 June, 2015 (11:44) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Dziga Vertov: The Man with the Movie Camera and Other Newly-Restored Works (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray) presents four features (and one newsreel short) by the great Soviet filmmaker, all making their American Blu-ray debut. They have been newly scanned from the best sources available and digitally remastered by Lobster Films in France. The collection is a […]

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SIFFtings 2015: Archival Presentations

2 June, 2015 (14:19) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

SIFF more than doubled its archival programming this year, bring a record 19 archival films and programs to the festival this year. The backbone of the archivals this year is a program celebrating the 25th anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. Eight films restored by The Film Foundation play SIFF, and another four will screen […]

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SFSFF 2015: Kevin Brownlow – Stories from the Trenches of Film Restoration

31 May, 2015 (13:55) | by Sean Axmaker, Interviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

I credit Kevin Brownlow for my passion for silent movies. I studied silent cinema in college film classes in the 1980s, viewed from 16mm classroom prints. I admired the era but, apart from Chaplin and Keaton and a few choice dramas, I never really embraced it as a unique form of storytelling. Then I saw […]

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SFSFF 2015: Serge Bromberg to the Rescue

30 May, 2015 (05:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Interviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Serge Bromberg started collecting films as kid. “I have been a film buff since the age of eight or nine. I used to buy films from Blackhawk and Castle and all those companies in America and in France when I was a teenager and watch those films and show those films to my friends. They […]

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Silents Please!: ‘Silent Ozu – Three Crime Dramas’

26 April, 2015 (08:23) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Silent Ozu – Three Crime Dramas (Eclipse 42) (Criterion, DVD) is an apt companion piece to Criterion’s previous set of silent Yasujiro Ozu films on their Eclipse line. The artist called the most “Japanese” of Japanese directors, famous for the quiet restraint and rigorous simplicity of his sound films, was a voracious film buff more […]

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Silents Please!: ‘The House of Mystery’ from Flicker Alley

25 April, 2015 (08:11) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The House of Mystery (La Maison du Mystère) (Flicker Alley, DVD) – Serials—the adventure cliffhangers what would play out in theaters before the main feature at a chapter a week—are commonly dismissed as kid stuff, glorified B-movies cranked out with little thought for story or character. France, however, produced some serials with high production values […]

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Two Raucous Silents: ‘What Price Glory?,’ ‘Sadie Thompson’

8 April, 2015 (08:14) | by Peter Hogue, Essays, Raoul Walsh, Silent Cinema | By: Peter Hogue

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975] What Price Glory?, like the successful play from which it is drawn, works with some of the era’s anger is directed less toward war itself than toward some of the era’s topical themes—in particular, as the title implies, the disillusionment that had befallen many of the youthful […]

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Rene Clair’s Hat Trick

15 March, 2015 (13:53) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

A triumvirate of early sound comedies—Under the Roofs of Paris (1930), Le Million (1931), and À Nous la Liberté (1931)—made René Clair’s reputation as France’s master of modern screen comedy. They explored the possibilities of the new audio dimension as an expressive element without sacrificing the fluid style and creative imagery of the height of […]

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Milestones: ‘In the Land of the Head Hunters’

8 March, 2015 (17:13) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

In the Land of the Head Hunters (Milestone, Blu-ray, DVD) is not a documentary but it is an invaluable historical document nonetheless. Famed photographer Edward S. Curtis made a career documenting the native tribes on the west in the early 20th century, preserving the imagery of a culture that had almost entirely eradicated through resettlement […]

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The ‘Alt’ Oscars: The Silent Years

16 February, 2015 (16:30) | by Sean Axmaker, Commentary, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The Academy Awards were born in 1927, the brainchild of MGM’s Louis B. Mayer, a studio head whose original idea for an organization to negotiate labor disputes and industry conflicts evolved into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The awards themselves were an afterthought and initially more public relations gimmick than egalitarian celebration […]

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Presenting Thanhouser, the Greatest American Independent Studio of the 1910s

15 December, 2014 (16:04) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The title to Ned Thanhouser‘s documentary, The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema, isn’t mere hyperbole. Veteran stage actor and theater manager Edwin Thanhouser (the director’s grandfather) made his move from live theater to making movies for the growing market of cinema in 1909. By 1918, as the industry grew beyond Thanhouser’s ability […]

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Ten Silent Movies to Make You a Silent Movie Fan

8 December, 2014 (12:49) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, lists, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

“We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” —Norma Desmond, Sunset Blvd. You say that you’re really into old movies and you can’t get enough of the classics but you just haven’t found a way to love silent cinema? You say that all your friends are doing the silents and you feel left out? You say […]

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Silents Please!: ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ and ‘Verdun’ restored

30 November, 2014 (09:50) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Editor

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD, streaming) is the grandfather and the godfather of German Expressionist cinema and one of the most influential films of its era. Directed by Robert Weine, it features Werner Kraus as the tyrannical Dr. Caligari, a sideshow barker in cape and top hat who commands the sleeping […]

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The Dialectics of Humor: Russian Silent Comedy

10 November, 2014 (16:16) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Let’s face it, Soviet silent cinema isn’t renowned for its sense of humor. And that’s a shame. Most of us were introduced to the silent era of Russian film through the dialectic exercises of Sergei Eisenstein, who combined the intellectual and the visceral in such films as Strike (1925) and Battleship Potemkin (1925) or the dazzling montage […]

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Essay: ‘The General’

5 October, 2014 (07:53) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Editor

This essay was originally written for the Silent Fall 2014 program presented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on September 20, 2014 No silent moviemaker ever engaged with the machinery of modern life as resourcefully as Buster Keaton did. From One Week (1920), his debut as a solo director after his apprenticeship with Fatty […]

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