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Should voices be added to some silent movies?


MovieMadness
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Why on earth would you mute the scores? The music is half the mystique of Silent films. Granted there are some really bad scores out there, but there are also many, many excellent ones. Silent movies are not meant to be seen in silence. That is just plain Nuts! You have missed out on allot of great music by doing this. I don't get it.

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I don't understand your point of 'Why is there an assumption that the viewer of a silent film cannot figure out what's going on in the movie without all this additional assistance?'.

 

Well why the need for title cards then? The makers of these movies felt the cards where necessary to provide the viewer with additional assistance.

 

So I stand by my point that using sound to replace title cards is fine, but agree that any other use of sound isn't.

 

One other point: In a foreign movie the words are on the screen at the same time as the 'action' but this is NOT the case with title cards. To me this is a major difference. Replacing these cards with sounds would keep the action flowing. If not sound at least do away with the title cards and have the words on the screen at the same time.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Feb 6, 2011 2:33 PM

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> {quote:title=calvinnme wrote:}{quote}

> "I'm very interested to see how people think that WINGS stacks up against THE BIG PARADE? I'm kind of surprised that any version of WINGS is still on Youtube. Clips from THE BIG PARADE have been posted many times, and they are repeatedly taken down after a short period of time. "

>

> I'm not surprised. All of MGM's silents are owned by Warner Brothers whose lawyers are very aggressive in their defense of their copyright. Wings along with the rest of the Paramount silent library is still owned by Paramount who thinks anything made before 1990 is ancient history and of no commercial value. I've sat through entire Paramount silent films on youtube that were up for over a year with nobody taking them down. I've lucked into a few early talkie Warner films in their entirety, but they were so cleverly disguised via some truncated name that you'd never find them by title.

 

 

Don't expect a new transfer of *WINGS* this evening. Sadly, It isn't going to happen. However, While it is the same old, same old Tonight, there is very big late breaking news on *WINGS.* Presumably it will be coming to DVD and Blu-ray pretty soon. Check out this quote by David Shepard this morning. It is the first real confirmation that Paramount is indeed doing something major with *WINGS.* Now if we could get a similar announcement concerning *THE BIG PARADE,* from Warners.

 

 

*"Paramount is working on its own version of WINGS using the Academy's beautiful tinted restoration, a new orchestral recording of the 1927 score by J. S.Zamecnik (which is wonderful) and sound effects as done in the roadshow screenings which will be executed with modern technology by Ben Burtt. Be patient."*

 

*David Shepard*

 

 

http://nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?p=48430#48430

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MyFavoriteFilms wrote:

<< I mute the scores because in my estimation, they often do not work for the film. Simple as that.

 

Nobody ever said a silent film had to be watched with music. That is how most audiences have been conditioned to watch them. >>

 

You would have *loved* the era of 8mm. :)

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I made 8 mm films in college.

 

And 16 mm.

 

Incidentally, I was very good at doing avante-garde soundtracks. But the image is always most important in a visual medium like film. Nothing can get in the way of the image. Sound has to serve image in film. And sometimes sound has to evoke image, but that's another discussion.

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> > I find it particularly strange and inconsistent that you would support this idea. As I recall, you said 'silent films are silent for a reason,' and said that you wouldn't even listen to the original score/soundtrack, that was made to go with the film, but watched them in silence. So, now you want them dubbed? That's just too weird.

>

> I really shouldn't dignify this with a response.

 

Why not? Your fellow posters dignified your post with a response, although I wonder to hell why they bothered.

 

>LOL I don't like the scores and definitely mute them, because many of them don't seem to fit well with the visuals. If it's silent, let it be silent all the way. But if there's a chance to modernize the film with sound effects and dialogue, I think that's viable, provided it's done carefully. And even if I didn't feel that way, there are manufacturers who do...and the purists can rant and rave all they want, but colorized films are not going away and neither will enhanced silents.

 

There will always be greedy ^%$&^$& that will look to make a buck off of someone else's art. It's a shame that there are gullible slobs that will fall for it. Happily, there are NO new colorized films being released. As for enhanced silents, it depends on what you mean. Silents are always being enhanced to get as close as possible to their CREATOR'S ORIGINAL VISION, not to placate YOUR vision.

 

>

> The fact that Fox issues several discs of Shirley Temple classics in both original and colorized formats means that they see the reformatting as a viable way to sell the film to today's consumers (translation: modern kids who want everything in color).

 

No, it means they still have the color negs from VHS days and stuck them on the disks as an extra feature, not because they are marketing towards kids.

 

>

> I think the OUR GANG shorts that are silent could attract today's young audiences, too, with some over-dubbing of dialogue. Wouldn't we rather have people watching these films, instead of them sitting on some remote shelf of history...?

 

In the first place, based on the amount of exposure the OUR GANG talkies have received as of late, I doubt adding over-dubbing of dialogue to the silents will make them anymore attractive to today's young brain dead audiences. In the second place, I would rather these films sit and collect dust then have them tampered on by "well meaning" boobs, who have no thought of monetary gain (SURE), only the thought of passing these classics (which would no longer be so classic) to people who don't know or care about what they're watching to begin with. Maybe that would appeal to audiences at amc who love 5 MINUTE Three Stooges shorts, but not PEOPLE who love classic film.

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MyFavoriteFilms wrote:

<< And sometimes sound has to evoke image >>

 

Is that ever so true, on the flip side of the coin the old radio shows always did that. I use to listen to a Mystery Theatre radio broadcast back in the 1970's and I always played that show out in my mind trying to visualize what was taken place. One's imagination in this medium is the key.

 

That show was the end of an era. Far cry from 3D and surround sound.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

About silent movies, the film "Silent Movie" (1976) by Mel Brooks is a great funny tribute to the silent era. Do some wants voices added to it as well? Now that won't be funny. :)

 

Edited by: hamradio on Feb 6, 2011 3:16 PM

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Yes, james, but the odd title card, usually with very little text, and appearing on the screen for abouat 30 seconds once in a while, is very different from dubbed-in dialogue for an entire (previously) silent movie. The title cards just gave the audience the gist of what was going on, and that was usually all that was necessary. They were not intrusive or a distraction - at least, I have never found them to be so. Also, I believe they were part of the original film, they were edited in before the film would be released to the viewing public. So they weren't artificial add-ons, they were conceived to be there to help tell the story from the beginning.

The way silent movies were filmed, the way the stories were planned and the actors performed, very few words, be they spoken or supplied on title cards, were needed for the audience to understand what was happening on screen. And I will say again, the titles were few and far between, usually with a minimal amount of text, and very un-obtrusive.

 

One more thing: you say the elimination of the cards, to be replaced with voice-over, would "keep the action flowing". But again, since silent movies were made knowing that title cards would be inserted now and then, they were filmed on purpose for the cards to fit in with the movie as a whole. And in the "action" scenes, there usually is no dialogue anyway, so the camera keeps rolling and the action keeps flowing (like in *Intolerance* , or the famous baby carriage scene in *Battleship Potemkin* .)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Feb 6, 2011 3:33 PM

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In the movie "Pandoras Box" the title cards were used very sparingly and only for a brief amount of time. Even though there was *just* enough time to read the English translation on the bottom, the poor German viewers back then would had to read FAST!

 

Ever noticed it took 4 German words to say one English. LOL!

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I've always kind of wanted to learn German.

I saw *Pandora's Box* the other night, and wondered what Louise Brooks made of it all. Did she speak or understand German? I kind of doubt it. But it doesn't matter, she comes across exactly the way she should anyway.

 

Yeah, maybe the title cards in German silent movies had more text and took longer to read than American or other English-language silents. English is such an economical language !

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I can't imagine how awkward that would had been for Louis Brooks being in a foreign film and not understand what everyone else is saying.

 

You might be interested to know that this happened to a child actress Morgane Farcat who played Marie-Odile in the movie "Madeline". She did not understood or spoke a word of English, I bet she really felt out of place what are these people saying?

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Ham,

 

No more awkward than it was for Lars Hanson during production of Victor Seastrom's *THE SCARLET LETTER* in 1926. Lars didn't understand a word of English at the time. Paul Wegener didn't either during the making of Rex Ingram's *THE MAGICIAN* that same year.

 

So, did everyone glance over the note from David Shepard here? No comments at all. That's pretty big news from a guy who would know.

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This topic reminds me of a time once, when I showcased a few Charlie Chaplin silent comedies for a group of young people. Right away, they weren?t so prone as to accept the whole idea of no dialog. The group of kids couldn?t be receptive to reading a scenario of what was being said. Despite the films being something of a reissue with only music and sound-effects, it would not be enough to satisfy the already spoiled nature of what technology had done to these young peoples mind.

 

Some of these kids didn?t even know the great ?Laurel & Hardy? and the ?Our Gang? comedies had once been in silent films. What?s interesting to me is how every new generation is faced with their very own sort of method or routine of accepting an issue that for the time becomes common place, only to later on be eclipsed by something new. Another example could be old vinyl records. Many young people today wouldn?t even conceive the idea of using an old phonograph player. Aside from CD?s taking over, the vast amount of MP3 technology has created its own purpose to not looking back at previous systems of recorded music.

 

So, we?re left with the simple issue of understanding the times and temperament of the era from which silent movies were the mainstream of motion picture entertainment. To add a bit of sound to a classic silent movie will not achieve anything so important or adhere to making the movie so acceptable along modern terms of thinking. This is because the obvious logic is there was never any sound to begin with, just somebody in the darken corner of a small theater playing a piano. Of course, if you lived in the big cities, then you?d probably get a full orchestra or something close to it. I feel it?s vital to have to place your frame of mind into the time period of the movie, as you attempt to understand it and then take it from there. Watching a silent movie is watching the past unfold before you. It doesn?t make any sense to alter that past by adding something that didn?t or even couldn?t have existed on its behalf. And, for those who talk a lot about considering this issue as a form of restoration, well that?s a whole different can of worms and again doesn?t make any sense.

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I favor a full dress recreation of the silent era experience in theaters- complete with live orchestra, sound effects and even vocalists. (People today don't realize that these films were a delivery system for sheet music and record sales! The spin off sale of the music composed for the film made huge money for the studios.) The experience I guarantee would be exciting to people of ALL ages.

 

 

I'm not going to blame a 15 year old for the fact that the above is not happening and is an unknown experience today; for that I will savagely criticize older generations who have not perpetuated something that is an integral part of our cultural inheritance. Older people with excess money and wealth have no problem donating towards the perpetuation of the arts- it's just that this is one art form that has escaped the attentions of the gray haired check writing/donating set. Let them wake up and start funding the theater experience that I talk about above, and I guarantee many many young people will take to it and be enriched for the rest of their lives!

 

 

Young people DO want to know about their past and they do want leadership from their elders. When they realize somewhere along the way that the older folks are passionless empty shells who have nothing to really share with the younger set, then they retreat into their own contemporary pop culture world, ready to perpetuate this cycle of cultural and historical amnesia with their kids.

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> Nobody ever said a silent film had to be watched with music. That is how most audiences have been conditioned to watch them.

 

Given that most silent films had a score, commissioned or selected by the creators of the film, and that most theaters had an organist, or pianist, playing that score, if not an orchestra, your statement is absurd.

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Theater Organ's were not all that common during the Silent Era, but allot of people believe that they were. Truth is it was much less expensive to hire a small 5 piece house band to play in the pit, than to install a great big gigantic organ and all those pipes. Some large Theater's had an Organ, and would alternate screenings with live Orchestra.

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