Nino Oxilia – Rapsodia satanica aka Satan’s Rhapsody (1915)

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Rapsodia Satanica (1915) was the last film directed by Nino Oxilia and is undoubtedly one of the finest achievements of the early Italian cinema. In it, Oxilia spins a variation on the Faust myth, embodied here by the diva Lyda Borelli. Typical of extravagant D’Annunzian aestheticism at its height, Rapsodia Satanica was one of the summits of what was later called the “tail coat film.” Diametrically opposed to the “cinema of reality” practiced by Serena, Martoglio and others, “tail coat films” set their melodramatic stories in the salons and villas of the upper middle class and the aristocracy, deploying narrative structures contrived to showcase their actors and especially its actresses. This had the effect of accentuating their physical presence and turning them into stars – probably the first stars in movie history. The success of the “dive” contributed to the development of motion picture grammar in its special use of the close-up.
Written by Anthony Kobal Continue reading

Yevgeni Bauer – Umirayushchii Lebed aka The Dying Swan (1917)

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Mike Pinsky, DVDVerdict wrote:
Russian film poet Evgeni Bauer combined the technical virtuosity of D.W. Griffith with the haunting terror of Edgar Allan Poe and the artist’s eye of Johannes Vermeer. He is — perhaps — the greatest film director you have never heard of. During his brief four-year career, Evgeni Bauer created macabre masterpieces. They are dramas darkly obsessed with doomed love and death, astonishing for their graceful camera movements, risqué themes, opulent sets and chiaroscuro lighting. Tragically, Bauer died in 1917, succumbing to pneumonia after breaking his leg.

For many decades, Bauer’s films were buried in the Soviet archives — declared too “cosmopolitan” and bizarre for the puritanical Soviet regime. But with the fall of the Iron Curtain, Bauer’s work has risen like a glorious phoenix out of the ashes of time. by MilestoneFilms Continue reading

Fritz Lang – Das wandernde Bild aka The Wandering Image (1920)

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The tangled story that unfolds in the torrid melodrama The Wandering Shadow centers around the character of Irmgard (played by actress Mia May), a virtuous woman who, like many such heroines past and present, gets involved with the wrong kind of man. As the film opens, she is seen fussing on a train headed for the picturesque mountains of Germany, fleeing an unidentified gentleman. Through flashbacks, we learn that Irmgard once found employment with a wealthy free-love advocate (Hans Marr). The two have an affair and, with Irmgard pregnant and desperate, she schemes to secretly marry the man’s brother (also played by Hans Marr) so it at least appears that the child is being raised properly. The confusing story eventually has Irmgard trudging through the mountainous terrain to come across a generous monk who offers her a chance at the redemption she so desperately desires. Continue reading

Polidor – Tontolini è triste (1911)

Plot
Disappointed by love, Tontolini consults a doctor about the sadness he feels. The doctor prescribes distractions and entertainment as a cure. Tontolini accepts the doctor’s advice and begins the cure by going to café chantants and theaters, where he finds nothing but moving performances that make him even sadder. (European Film Gateway) Continue reading

Charles Tutelier – La Belgique martyre AKA The martyrdom of Belgium (1919)

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Plot
A young Flemish peasant experiences the brutal side of war after his father has left to fight at the battle front of the Yser, his mother has been executed by German soldiers and his grandfather has been sent to an internment camp. He decides to take up arms and joins the Belgian army to avenge his mother’s death… (EFG) Continue reading

Fritz Lang – Harakiri (1919)

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O-Take-San (Lil Dagover) is a beautiful young woman pursued by an evil Buddhist monk (Georg John) who wants to make her one of his many geishas. She has an affair with the Danish officer Niels Prien (Olaf J. Anderson) who leaves her alone and pregnant. O-Take-San considers ritualistic suicide when she is abandoned in this tragic melodrama directed by Fritz Lang. A nitrate print of the 1919 silent classic was found in the Dutch Film Museum and restored in 1988. ~ Dan Pavlides, All Movie Guide
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