Monday, July 16, 2007

A Very Silent Weekend

Welcome Back!

So I began my chronological viewing of the list this weekend. It turned out that I needed to find a resource other than Netflix for the first few films on the list, because some of the movies have never been released on DVD or weren't widely released. I decided to check Rocket Video which is a great! rental store in Los Angeles, they have almost any movie that has ever been released on Video or DVD, if you're in the LA area I highly recommend them for any hard to find movies. And they came through for me this weekend, thanks to them I was able to get my hands on:

'A Trip To The Moon' from 1902, this French short film was directed by George Melles and was highly impressive. I didn't realize so much could be done with film in 1902, I was not expecting this from one of the first films. The effects are stunning and you know they're not computer generated, which somehow makes it more interesting to watch. Oddly enough this film is also available through youtube. It's two separate files, and well worth watching.

I was also able to get 'The Great Train Robbery' from 1903. Both movies were on a DVD that contained a collection of Silent films from the early 1900s called 'The Movies Begin.' This movie was enjoyable to watch as well, also better than I had anticipated, what's worth noting is the coloring in of the negatives for a couple of the women's dresses. I was very impressed by this film as well.
After these 2 shorts I tackled the next film I haven't seen on the list, 1921's Swedish film, 'The Phantom Carriage.' This movie utilized a lot of interesting camera effects and included some layering of the negatives to get the effect of the un-dead interacting with the living. The movie reminded me of the series Dead Like Me and had hints of 'It's A Wonderful Life.'

My Sunday consisted of what I have to believe is the longest silent film in all of humanity. It's called 'Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler. It's a German film directed by Fritz Lang. While it was VERY! long at over 4 hours, it was also very good. It had a lot of whimsy and fun to it. It reminded me a lot of 'The Sting' and movies like 'Ocean's Eleven', pretty much any movie with a heist. There were a lot of fun disguises and a lot of intrigue. I'd definitely recommend it, but I don't know if I could watch it again.

I made a lot of headway on the list this weekend, my total is now at 279.

The movies that I had seen previously or skipped for one reason or another are:
  1. Birth of a Nation from 1915. I Netflicked this D.W. Griffith directed movie a few months ago. I found it to be a bit slow and not too engaging, but I see the significance it has in the history of cinema, but I don't need to see it again.
  2. Les Vampires from 1915, this movie has not yet been released on Netflix and is in my Saved Queue, to be released at some point.
  3. A few months ago I Netflicked Intolerance another D.W. Griffith epic from 1916, this was a bit difficult to watch, I found it to be racist and derogatory, but I guess that was the way people thought and what they felt at the time, so it's relevant.
  4. I really enjoyed The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a German film from 1919. While I may have spent the first half thinking that somnambulist was a made-up word for a sleep walking creature, I still enjoyed the film for it's wonderful storytelling and interesting images. I've also decided that it's the first film to utilize flashback as a form of narrative, I could be wrong.
  5. The next two films on the list that I netflix'd awhile ago are two more epics from Mr. D.W Griffiths. Broken Blossoms, another one of his films that I found to be a bit racist I guess it was the social climate at the time, and today is just very dated, but I found it to be offensive and almost hard to watch.
  6. The other was Way Down East, which was a convoluted love story and starred Lillian Gish.
  7. I haven't been able to find the next film on the list, Within Our Gates. According to IMDB it's available on DVD, but I couldn't find it on Netflix or at Rocket Video, so the hunt is still on.
  8. On the list after the Phantom Carriage comes Orphans of the Storm, which was by far my favorite D.W Griffith's movie. It had an engaging plot and characters you cared about and rooted for.
  9. It seems that the next movie on the list La Souriante Madam Beudet is not availble on DVD or Video so I'll have to skip this one for the time being.
I made a lot of headway on the list this weekend, my total is now at 279.

Next up are some more silent films. Stay tuned.

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