Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
wheel123

i dont like silents

Recommended Posts

i dislike when TCM shows silent movies, i just cant get into them, and i switch the channel,

 

no offense TCM but they just put me to sleep, and i have many friends who are TCM fans, and not 1 enjoys silent films, nor do the watch, go figure

 

i think the silents cater to a very small audience

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, wheel, what's your age??? I'd guess that "you and your friends" are very young - teens or 20s - and hence are not representative of the TCM audience at large. I can see where folks raised on x-box would need constant stimulation to stay interested in anything, but I'd encourage you to exercise patience with this.

 

The TRUE "classics" are well worth the effort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a huge fan of silent films and had it not been for a chance encounter with Laurel & Hardy's Big Business in a pizza parlor back in the 70s, I don't know that I would have gotten into them, but I'm glad I did and now Silent Sunday Night is my favorite program on TCM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the silents and look forward eagerly to each Silent Sunday offering.

 

I am about your age, and I don't think they are boring in the slightest.

 

If you think Charlie Chaplin is 'boring', you haven't watched enough Charlie Chaplin. And if you think Rudolph Valentino is 'boring', well, you are definitely a guy, for starters. Because I don't think there is a woman on the planet who wouldn't find something to like about Valentino.

 

Perhaps you might do better to start with the silent comedies. Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd are all good silent era performers to start with.

 

If you give them a real chance, you will likely find that you are mistaken about silent films.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't blame you for not liking silents. They make my wife fall asleep. She falls asleep during even things like "M." She is most accustomed to the loud, vulgar, violent movies like what Will Smith or Jim Carrey might appear in. She needs, bottom line, a heavy amount of stimulation, and she does not like to read anything in a movie. Silent films have titles, letters, signs etc. She likes "Prison Break," and other shows which make me and my daughter cringe.

And I don't fault anyone for requiring that much stimulation in a picture -- to do so would be to condemn the vast majority of today's audience. I like the subtlety and sublimity of silents; the emphasis on faces, hands, pictorial elements - it's more like reading a book. I have always been a strong reader and I like the historical period that silent movies represent, their mores, ideas and what they thought about society, culture. A lot of silent films are very advanced at the social and intellectual level even as they seem "innocent" by today's standards.

I don't know what to recommend to you to find the way in - "Lonesome" (1929), "The Last Laugh" (1924) and "Sunrise" (1927) would seem to be natural owing to their modern pacing and relative lack of titles. My wife liked "Where Are My Children" (1916) because of its subject matter, tailored for women. I still had to work a little to keep her interested in it. Best advice is to find a silent movie loving friend to take you through one.

If the audience is small, so be it. That's no reason to fault anything - just because Usher sells more CDs than Shostakovich doesn't mean that Usher is the better musician. Mass entertainment pushes the idea that only work that makes money is worth something; and that's a relatively new concept at the audience level. Thirty years ago there was a clear understanding that there was room for both kinds of pictures - things that were "high culture" and others that were "entertainment." We are living in an era now in which every film is expected to win back its advertising budget the first weekend.

Oddly enough, the all-time money makers list still contains a lot of "high culture" pictures.

 

spadeneal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey! Don't be dissin' Prison Break! :P

 

Nah...just kiddin'. I love Prison Break...but I love silents too!

 

You can't really compare them, though. I watch each when I'm in the mood...but rarely am I in the mood for both - they are just too dissimilar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spad... I really admire your diplomacy in not casting aspersions upon those who require "loud, vulgar, and violent" movies in order to be "stimulated...like the majority of today's audiences"... Personally, I find that a sad and scary trend and commentary, not just for the world of historic film, but for society in general... I'll will come right out and state that opinion... We'll all have ADD before it's over...!!! The world of silents was a gentler, kinder, more "human" world; that's my story...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i dont think anybody should be stereotyping that people at a young age dont enjoy silents: im 19 years old, and i have a silent movie collection that contains more than one hundred films. i love silent films, and i think that they are now only appreciated by people that really love film. i am one of those people. my favorite directors are erich von stroheim and charlie chaplin, and ive seen multiple films by murnau, lang, pabst, griffith, sjostrom, vidor, niblo. they have now evolved into an acquired taste, and it is very understandalble that people dont enjoy them anymore. unless it's a charlie chaplin movie, my girlfriend falls asleep, and i dont get aggrivated (its when we're watching casablanca or the grand illusion when i get angered).

 

also, if you dont like silent films, stay away from this forum. whats the point of wasting your time and disrespecting people for things that they enjoy?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi SafetyLast15,

 

I want to follow up what you have said. I saw my first silent film when I was about 5-6 years old. As a background, I was fascinated with the idea of reading, dinosaurs and Peter and the Wolf and Tubby the Tuba. In other words, a typical kid. The movie I saw was "The Lost World," and I never forgot it. It had titles to read, classical music and claymation dinosaurs. Around the age of 9, as I was discovering horror films, I saw "Nosferatu," then "Shadows," and finally, "The Phantom of the Opera" in a silent film palace, The Loews Ohio, with John Muri playing the newly restored Mighty Morton Pipe Organ. It shook the foundations of the theater in the finale. I had a fabulous introduction to silent films.

 

My interest has continued through the years and I now have a collection of about 600 silent feature films and perhaps 2000 or more short subjects (I've lost count). I also have a Master's Degree with an emphasis on early film. My thesis was on how narrative evolved in the silent cinema.

 

Perhaps silent films are an acquired taste when compare to many (but not all) contemporary films. Maybe its like comparing wine to beer.

 

The challenge for modern viewers, who are generally not adequately informed about it, is that the silent film was a different artistic medium with its own conventions, rules and styles. All of the same comedic and dramatic genres existed (perhaps with the exception of the movie musical). There were love stories and adventures and horror films. There were serious comedies and farces. There were religious epics and sex films. There were experimental indie and avante garde films. There were minority films.

 

So, when I hear someone say I don't like silents I am never quite sure what that means. I had a friend, Gary, who was a bit resistant to watch silent films but was open minded. And I will never forget the day he said with surprise, "There are all kinds of different silent films. I always thought they were the same thing over and over until I decided to look."

 

Roy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like "silents" because they are a time capsule of the period.

 

The dress, the technology and machinery of the time, the attitudes and social conventions of the time, and indeed the very style of filmmaking. It's a timeless record of sorts, and one of the clearest ways to actually see the past and in a way, be there.

 

I personally dont know how anyone can not find it fascinating, that's just me tho.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like silent films. I don't consider myself a silent film buff, but I've seen a fair number of silent films, beyond the usual comedy classics.

 

My wife doesn't like silents at all. She thinks every silent movie could be wrapped up in fifteen minutes and if they last any longer, she finds them agonizing.

 

Actually, when I grew up, (Sixties and Seventies) silent movies were seen as a treat, particularly the comedies. The local library would show silent films one night a week during the summer or a teacher would show a Laurel and Hardy short near the end of school. It came as a real surprise for me to find that there were people who found silent film unbearable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow; what an erudite post, Sergei!!! Thank you; great "apologia" for silents...

 

Me, I like silents for many reasons, among which is THEY ARE SILENT. Do you realize how precious a commodity that has become??? When I watch even two minutes of noisy, obnoxious commercial television, I feel I'm in a torture chamber!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i was excited that they showed a Charlie Chaplin film tonight and it's not even Sunday! i wouldn't mind if they showed a lot more throughout the week, actually. i've been enjoying silent films for years, and i'm only 26.

 

boring? silent films are more exciting today than they were when they were new. contemporary viewers paid little attention to the clothing styles, automobiles, technology, and overall culture of the period, but even the most mundane actions are interesting to watch 80-90 years later.

 

perhaps what you really need is to see these films the way they were intended: in a movie palace with live music. i've been going to the Silent Movie Theater here in LA where they have the legendary Bob Mitchell performing the music at age 94 (he started his career in the 20's). i've also seen amazing shows a the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (can't wait to see the Unholy Three again on TCM!). in this setting, the music is so captivating that it's a good thing there's no dialogue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually really enjoy silents. Not just the comedies (especially Buster Keaton) but any of the Fairbanks action/adventure films are incredible to watch. I do have to be in a certain mood to appreciate silents though. For one thing the kids can't be around because any distractions really take away form the experience. If I'm answering my kid's questions during a "talkie" I'm at least still absorbing the audio part of the story, but it's totally distracting when watching a silent. If I have to rewind too many times it just breaks the pacing and my attention may falter. For those that are used to a total assault on the senses when watching movies (which I can certainly be gulity of at times) I can see how silents can be tough to focus on. But there are many that are worth the effort. I have a friend who can't enjoy a movie (at home or in the theatre) unless the smell of popcorn is in the air. So, to each their own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to speak on Wheel's behalf and others that loathe silents. The difference between silents and modern films is the difference between brown and white rice. The brown is longer to cook and slower to digest. White rice can be cooked in a fraction of the time and, since it's not a whole grain, slides through our systems quicker.

 

Silent cinema isn't a medium with which modern viewers are apt to fall instantly and rhapsodically in love. It takes the sort of effort that may be too much of a cultural and sensory shift for modern viewers.

 

I was born in 1952. I used to watch 30's, 40's and 50's movies on TV all the time. But there was always something about silents. The comedy seemed funnier. The scares were scarier. Everything seemed fresher. I've lectured on various aspects of silent cinema several times now. I read all that I can about it. I've found that exploring through silent cinema (as someone who's seen a lot of movies) Is like finding new rooms in a home that we thought we thoroughly knew.

 

But Wheel, I'm in full sympathy with you. Silents aren't easy. Silents can take some work. I've found that it's an effort that offers rich rewards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It bothers me that people don't realize just how good a lot of these films are, not just as history, but as entertainment. When people think of silent film, they tend to think of Chaplin or Keaton, who were both very fine but a small part of the silent movie output.

 

Silent stars also have, unfairly in my view, a reputation for mugging and making sweeping gestures. It doesn't help that some of the better known films, like "Metropolis" contain some really horrible overacting.

 

In truth many of these movies were very good as movies, regardless of the era or the lack of sound. Lon Chaney, who could convey emotion through posture and his eyes even while wearing 90 pounds of costume and makeup may be the finest film actor who ever lived. It's impossible to watch King Vidor's "The Big Parade" and not be stunned by the brutality and futility of war. Vidor's "The Crowd" is a biting examination of the dehumanizing effects of modern society that is still relevant and moving today. Carl Th. Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is possibly the best film ever, of any era. D.W. Griffith, his racism and moralizing aside, was a master craftsman who could tell a hell of a good story -- I dare any straight male to watch "Intolerance" and not fall totally in love with Mountain Girl.

 

Silent film was not just a movie with no sound -- it was an art form in and of itself. Silent epics had production values not equaled until modern CGI. The introduction of sound was actually a setback in many ways. Locking the camera in the studio meant the end of the scope and beauty obtained with complete freedom of movement. This would take decades to overcome. When Mary Pickford said "It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkies instead of the other way around" she had a very valid point.

 

The lack of color in most (but not all) silent film puts off a lot of contemporary viewers for some reason. The lack of sound is an even bigger obstacle, but if you can watch a subtitled foreign film you can watch a silent movie. And if you care about film at all, you should

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The so-called horrible theatrics (a.k.a., "mugging" and making sweeping gestures) harken back to a time when live theatre was the norm; overdone acting, in addition to caked-on makeup (ever see ballet or opera performers up close??? scary!) was necessary in order to "project" the emotion to the back of the theatre. Hence, it's all part of the attraction to the historical signficance... And hence it's "all good"...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> The so-called horrible theatrics (a.k.a., "mugging"

> and making sweeping gestures) harken back to a time

> when live theatre was the norm

 

I'm aware of the history, but it's still painful to watch, and it's certainly an obstacle to getting people who have never watched silents to do so. Also, the example I used, Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," was late enough in the silent era that such mugging was pretty much gone from the screen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jon,

 

The "mugging" you refer to in Metropolis was actually a style of acting popular in Germany in the 20's. It is called Expressionism. There was an entire artistic movement that affected all of the arts (even architecture). It was a convention and not over-acting. People are often mistaken or under-informed about this when viewing silent German films.

By comparison, we would not call if overacting if we watched a mime go through all of his (or her's) silly antics because we are accustomed to it. Or a kabuki actor as another example, because it is what we expect. German audiences of the 20's accepted Expressionism as a valid form of cinematic acting.

Regrettably most people do not have the historical frame of reference to fully appreciate old films.

Look at it like this: Many people may admire an old Greek "black figure" vase but no one is going to say the figures are entirely realistic. That doesn't diminish its value as art. The Greeks were certainly capable of portraying the human figure realistically. Look at their sculptures. The painting / drawing style was a convention. It is also an acquired taste.

For that matter, I have rarely seen a Hollywood musical with realistic acting performances. They may exist, but they are rare. I accept the "hokum" with a musical that I may not accept with a drama. It doesn't diminish its value to me.

 

Roy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sergei, you're missing my point. The acting style in "Metropolis" was dated by the time the movie was released. There were plenty of Expressionist films that aren't painful to watch today, such as nearly all of Murnau's work.

 

Regardless of how appropriate it was at the time, it still puts off modern viewers, at least those who aren't serious fans of silent movies. The examples I gave in my original post to this thread are movies that retain their relevance and watchability even now. I can't imagine anyone seeing "The Big Parade" or "The Crowd" without being choked up, regardless of previous exposure to silents. If those movies were more widely known than "Metropolis," attitudes toward silents would be vastly different.

 

Once you've seen and understood silents enough to gain an appreciation for the form, then perhaps "Metropolis" is something you should see. But for large numbers of people it's their only exposure to silent film It's a poor representative, lending credence to many of the popular stereotypes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jon,

I have a feeling we are both arguing the same point, which is that some silent films do require background knowledge to be fully appreciated while others do not. Indeed the acting style in The Crowd, The Big Parade, The Wind, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and many others is entirely naturalistic and more easily understood by modern audiences.

But I would argue that the acting style in Metropolis was not "dated" at the time it was made. Lang was the most powerful and influential filmmaker in Germany and chose to have his actors portray their parts the way they did. It wasn't a throwback to an earlier style of acting or a fault, it was a choice.

You are also correct that much expressionist acting can be painful to watch (especially when it is done badly). But acting aside, I have seen Metropolis over and over since the early 70's with audiences and without, with pre-recorded sound and with live accompaniment, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that modern audiences (most of whom probably view silent films as a novelty) get greatly carried away by the film. The Expressionist acting convention (even its sillier aspects) develops in the context of the story and audiences find themselves accepting the convention without knowing why.

I don't think it is that bad an introduction to silent films, especially the restored version offered by Kino. It was one of the first silents I saw and I kept coming back.

 

Roy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> I don't think it is that bad an introduction to

> silent films, especially the restored version offered

> by Kino. It was one of the first silents I saw and I

> kept coming back.

 

I have the Kino version because it came in the Fritz Lang silents box set. It's still not done at a natural speed for reasons i can't fathom -- it should be shown at 20 fps, but the restored version is 24 fps (some people think, without much evidence, that this was Lang's choice).

 

Part of the reason that we seem to disagree is because I think Metropolis is at best a mediocre film. It was groundbreaking in many ways, but it's almost unwatchable to me, and not just because of the acting. I love Lang, but this was a clunker. "Der M?de Tod, "Spione," "Die Niebelungen" or Dr. Mabuse are better examples of his silent work.

 

"Metropolis" was an ambitious failure in my view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

good point, Roy. one of the things i absolutely love about silent films is how disconnected they are from today's obligatory verisimilitude. some people aren't fans of musicals because they can't accept people breaking into song in the middle of a conversation. some people aren't fans of cartoons because they dislike those conventions. furthermore, some people dislike films of the 30's because people in real life don't talk like that (a convention of early talkies), or the 40's because people in real life don't speak that fast, or the 50's for its minimalistic acting style, etc.

 

while it sounds hypocritical, this is one of the reasons i'm not a fan of many modern movies, because they try to be too realistic. films are produced in color just because mainstream audiences won't accept black and white as realistic; few directors seem to know how to use color artistically, just like sound is now a requirement, not an artistic device.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...