Silent Films Today

There is a genuine, if still small, movement to rehabilitate silent film forms in today’s cinema. I’ve seen a few of those films, and thought it was high time to make a list and follow more closely the news on that front. And report back here of course.

Use the comment section if you’ve seen some of those films yourself. I’m starting the list with the wikipedia section “Later homages” of the silent film entry. Let me know if there are more that are not on this list !

The list is by alphabetical order.

  1. Artist, the (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011, France) — that’s it, silent cinema has finally arrived, and thank heavens it’s silent, judging by the last two words uttered by Jean Dujardin in English at the end (the French accent may have been charming then, but in today’s globalized world, it strikes me as provincial) — but wait, why can’t this be a silent film about today’s world ? Isn’t it highly exploitative of black and white nostalgia, this pastiche plagiarism of so many other films, from Hitchcock’s Vertigo music, to Borzage’s 7th Heaven  staircase, to the plot of, among others, A Star is Born? You bet it is–it trades on emotions already created in other films. And past the first 20 minutes, it just dies: plotless, directionless, action less — not your average 1920 movie, by a long shot. But an oscar winner in 2012, so who’s going to complain?
  2. Brand Upon the Brain ! A Remembrance in 12 Chapters (Guy Maddin, 2006, Canada) – reviews by Roger Ebert, by Carrie Rickey,  by Micahel Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, by Ty Burr of the Boston Globe, by Aaron Hills of the Village Voice.
  3. Call of Cthulhu, the (Andrew Leman, 2005, USA)
  4. Dr Plonk (Rolf de Heer, 2007, Australia)
  5. Impostors, the (Stanley Tucci, 1998, USA) — opening sequence in silent slapstick style. The film is an homage to Laurel and Hardy / the Marx Brothers.
  6. Juha (Aki Kaurismäki, 1999, Finland), with intertitles
  7. Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Jacques Tati, 1953, France)
  8. Les Fiancés du Pont Mac Donald (Agnès Varda, 1961, France) — not made today, indeed, but quite charming with young Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina, and quite in slapstick style too — to show, says Agnès Varda, Godard’s Buster Keatonesque sad eyes ?
  9. Margarette’s Feast (Renato Falcão, 2003, Brazil)
  10. Pushpak (Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, 1987, India), viewers’ reviews here
  11. Shadow of the Vampire (E. Elias Merhige, 2000, UK) — about the filming of Murnau’s Nosferatu, with intertitles
  12. Silent (Michael Pleckaitis, 2007, USA) — not sure this qualifies as a silent film, as it’s a film where the fiction world is silent (except for one character), as opposed to a film that transcribes the world as we know it (with sound) but without recorded sounds…
  13. Silent Movie (Mel Brooks, 1976, USA)
  14. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2005, Taiwan) — silent in middle third of the film, with intertitles
  15. Tuvalu (Veit Helmer, 1999, Germany)

§ 6 Responses to Silent Films Today

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