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February 27, 2010

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Tom Russell

Ooh, I want.

If I had to choose between the Lumiere camp and the Melies camp-- not that a cinephile can't appreciate both-- I would choose Melies, because there's something inherently charming about stagecraft, performance, and artifice. (Well, actually, I'm more in the Bowers camp, which is kinda like the Melies camp but with added American goofball-ness.)

Ed Hulse

De-evolved is right. It was either Mary Pickford or Lillian Gish who said that silent films should have evolved from talkies rather than the other way around. After seeing COP OUT, I'm beginning to think she had something there.

Scott Nye

In the documentary Visions of Light, really more of a celebration of cinematography than a documentary about it, someone mentioned that cinema would have been done a great favor if sound had waited another ten years to take hold, as the image could have a great chance to develop and become more of a fixture in mainstream cinema. I often wonder...

On the other hand, with the development of HDTV, digital projection, IMAX, 3D, etc. I wonder if we aren't headed back to the age of the image. Of course, editing and, more specifically, pace will likely remain, and continue to, accelerate, but what'll you do.

Oh, and Ed, after seeing Cop Out, I'm not even sure it deserved the use of the image.

Jaime

I wonder how many people - including devoted cinephiles - really take silent cinema seriously as a source of pleasure that's as strong as, and sometimes superior to, the great films of the sound era? Unfortunately, not too many.

Not to take anything away from the masters, but how can anybody claim to love movies and, at the same time, quietly steer clear of immediately available works by Melies, Feuillade, and Bauer? (And that's just the pre-1920 crowd!) Those films, viewed today, seem as brilliant and vital as great film of the last ten, fifty, eighty or so years.

My favorites of Melies:
LE VOYAGE À TRAVERS L'IMPOSSIBLE
THE BLACK IMP
THE COOK IN TROUBLE
THE MYSTERIOUS RETORT

Feuillade:
JUDEX*
BARABBAS*
THE RACE FOR MILLIONS
TIH MINH
JUVE CONTRE FANTOMAS
LES VAMPIRES
THE COLONEL'S ACCOUNT
FANTOMAS A L'OMBRE DE LA GUILLOTINE
SPRING
THE FAIRY OF THE SURF

Bauer:
THE DYING SWAN*
AFTER DEATH
TWILIGHT OF A WOMAN'S SOUL

Griffith:
A CORNER IN WHEAT
THE UNCHANGING SEA
FRIENDS

Chaplin:
EASY STREET

Roach:
ASK FATHER
BILLY BLAZES, ESQ.

Porter:
THE DREAM OF A RAREBIT FIEND

Lubitsch:
THE MERRY JAIL

(* Would make my list of all-time favorites)

And yes, as a critic with a formalist bent, I am confident that the power of these films has a great deal to do with framing, composition, use of space, contrast, lines, etc., etc.

James Russell

Having watched the entire Melies box, I came to the following two conclusions:

1) Most viewers would really be better off with a well-chosen set of his best works; a mix of the better longer productions and the more notable shorter ones.

2) On the other hand, how awesome is it that a box set like this even exists? How further awesome is it that enough of Melies' lost films have since been recovered to fill another disc?

I've seen some of de Chomon's stuff and it's not that hard to imagine it being mistaken for Melies; he was plowing a similar furrow.

As for devoted cinephiles not taking silent cinema seriously, no less a cinephile icon than Andrei Tarkovsky considered all "early" cinema to be nothing more than a prelude to the art cinema that was emerging at the time he started making films. So...

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