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Michael is a visual masterpiece!!!


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Michael is one of the best films I?ve seen recently as the Sunday Silent Feature. Carl Dreyer, as usual, provides an unflinching and very adult view of love, of growing older and of the unfeeling and uncaring nature of man.

 

Walter Slezak brilliantly carries a great deal of class and sex appeal throughout the whole film but it is the cinematography that really struck me. Karl Freund did one of the best jobs I?ve seen in a silent, with his brilliant use of lighting and irises. Every frame of Michael is a poem in images. Well thought out and executed.

 

The production design is also very beautiful and detailed. Complimenting the costumes and hair styles of the time. Also I must compliment the music which was compiled and performed by Neal Kurz. It really fit the movie and the dark, almost morbid, feeling of the film. I have now watched Michael 4 times since it aired at the end of last year and I find myself more and more taken by it with each viewing. Oh yeah, I thought the movie figurines- Chaplin, Coogan...- in Michael?s bedroom were a great touch.

 

Anyhow, if anyone has any facts, opinion or info about this film, I?d love to know them

 

Thanks

Michael

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Many of the UFA films of the period are, I think, among the most intelligent and visually sumptuous in cinema. This film was restored as issued in a fine set by Kino that also includes William Dieterle's 1928 film Geschlecht in Fesseln: Die Sexualnot der Gefangenen (Sex in Chains) and Richard Oswald's Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others), both remarkably frank and unlike anything Hollywood was making. That's probably why these and other films of period hold up well today and, as much as we enjoy many Hollywood productions of the 1920s, they're just not the same as what Decla-Bioscop or UFA were churning out. Dieterle's one of my favourite directors, though his acting is another thing (have you seen Faust?), and I hope TCM gets around to airing Sex in Chains to provide a balance for his superb work at Warners in the 1930s as well as the Oswald film featuring the always fascinating Conrad Veidt. Imagine these films even proposed a decade later when Goebbels took over the German film industry!

 

Maddeningly, I recorded Michael but erased the first ten minutes when I went back to edit it. Hope they show it again.

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Thanks for the info. Unfortunatly I haven't seen any of the films you've mentioned. They sound great. I live in a very small town so I usually have to buy silent films if I'm going to watch them. None to rent but the ones you just mentioned have more then sparked my interest. Has "Different From the Others" been on TCM?

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I'm in the same boat. I've always had to buy the films I like, or want to see, which has been ridiculously expensive over the years.

 

I don't think Different From the Others has aired on TCM. I'm keeping my fingers metaphorically crossed. But Faust is definitely a must-see if you liked Michael. Not that it's is the same league, but it's just a fascinating, brilliantly-filmed picture. So is The Love of Jeanne Ney and, well, loads of others...

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  • 5 months later...

A very belated response, but thanks for your kind words about my score to "Michael". It IS a fabulous film, and it stands up to the many viewings necessary to discover what music DOES work with the film. I'm so glad that TCM has shown this a couple of times now, since the DVD is not going to reach nearly as many viewers. Thanks again!

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  • 3 months later...

No problem. I can't tell you how many times I have watched that film this year. Sometimes when I'm working I'll put that dvd in and and just have the music playing in the background. Very haunting and beautiful.

 

 

Attached to this is my updated view on this film.

 

Michael is one of the best films Ive seen recently as the TCM Sunday Silent Feature. Carl Dreyer, as usual, provides an unflinching and very adult view of love, of growing older and of the unfeeling and uncaring nature of man.

 

Wlater Slezak plays a struggling artist who is taken in by one of the worlds more renowned painters. It is here, that Micheal begins modeling for his new master. Bringing them both much fame and recognition. It is obvious, the sexual desire that is shown toward the young Michael by the much older painter. A sexual desire that eventually turns in to a need to be the young man's father figure. Something Michael handdles and accepts with ease and mutual desire as well. Their lives are suddenly put in turmoil when a young female model comes to be painted and Michael falls in love with her. A love triangle destined to be dirty and full of betreyal. Rather shocking stuff actually.

 

Walter Slezak brilliantly carries a great deal of class and sex appeal throughout the whole film He really is beautiful and carries a great talent for the art of silent acting.but,... it is the cinematography that really struck me.

 

Karl Freund did one of the best jobs Ive seen in a silent. With his brilliant use of lighting and irises, every frame of Michael is a poem in images. Well thought out and executed.

 

The production design is also very beautiful and detailed. Complimenting the costumes and hair styles of the time. Also, I must compliment the music which was compiled and performed by Neal Kurz. It really fit the movie and the dark, almost morbid, feeling of the film. I have now watched Michael 8 times since it aired at the end of last year and I find myself more and more taken by it with each viewing. Oh yeah, I thought the movie figurines- Chaplin, Coogan...- in Michael's bedroom were a great touch.

 

This film is typical Dreyer. Even without spoken dialogue, Michael is a film based on characters, what they have to say and the lives that they lead. It is a pretty solid glimpse in to a time long gone. Ideas now forgotten and even better, a slight look at how society viewed homosexuality nearly a hundred years ago. I really love this film and hold it higher the any other silent I have seen to date. Granted there are 100's I would like to see that will more then likely have a greater impact on me. As for the 30 or so that I have seen, Michael has been my favorite.

 

~~Mike~~

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