1911-1920

Mauritz Stiller – Herr Arnes pengar aka Sir Arne’s Treasure (1919)

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Quote:
In the sixteenth century, the Swedish king availed himself of mercenaries from other nations to wage his wars, however, rumors of mutiny and insurrection made him banish and imprison a force of Scottish soldiers. Having escaped prison, three such mercenaries find themselves adrift in the icy wasteland of the severe Swedish winter. Half mad from starvation and drink, they commit a senseless and utterly bestial crime. Although they initially manage to evade justice, no ship is able to carry them away through the frozen waters and back to Scotland. They remain stranded on the coast of Sweden, waiting for Spring to arrive, knowing not that destiny’s nimble hands are weaving its web around them with every passing day. Read More »

Various – The Movies Begin – Disc 5 – Comedy, Spectacle, and New Horizons (1893 – 1913)

This edition explores the establishment of cinematic genres in the first years of the 20th Century, offering rare glimpses of the innovative visual comedy of Max Linder, the pioneering Italian epic NERO – or THE BURNING OF ROME, the phenomenal animation of Windsor McCoy, the social realism of Alice Guy Blaché’s MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, D. W. Griffith’s early melodrama A GIRL AND HER TRUST, and more!

By 1907 the cinema’s initial growing pains had subsided and fairly distinct generic categories of production were established. This volume of The Movies Begin examines some of these integral works that begin to reflect the modern day cinema — punctuated with authentic hand-tinted lantern slides used during early theatrical exhibition. Read More »

Yakov Protazanov – Pikovaya dama AKA The Queen of Spades (1916)

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Already in the early years of Russian cinema Protazanov’s name was a hallmark of artistic excellence. “The Queen of Spades” is a brilliant example of his extraordinary talent. The film has not only a first-rate story and ingenious Mozzhukhin’s performance, but also all the tricks that were available to filmmakers in 1916. The use of crosscutting in the film is quite sophisticated for the time; superimposition is yet another important device; and the use of flashbacks here is very effective. Unlike most pictures of that time “The Queen of Spades” made a genuine contribution to the evolution of Russian film art. I think it would be great if more people see one of the best pre-revolutionary Russian films.

–GostaBerling Read More »

Louis Feuillade – L’orgie romaine AKA Heliogabale [hand coloured version] (1911)

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Short silent epic from gaumont, hand coloured. The story of Elegabalus, one of Rome’s most vain, brutal, decadent and perverted emperors. Apart from his personality problems, things only really take a nasty turn for him when he sets lions on his guests at a palace party. After a couple of years, people (or at least the pretorian guards) are not going to stand for that… Read More »

Enrico Guazzoni – Quo Vadis? (1912)

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Directed by Enrico Guazzoni
Scenario by Enrico Guazzoni, from a novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Amleto Novelli (Vinicius), Gustav Serena (Petronius), Amelia Cattaneo (Eunice), Carlo Cattaneo (Nero)

The birth of the motion picture epic is generally dated to the 1913-1914 Italian films Quo vadis, The Last Days of Pompeii, Cabiria and Cajus Julius Cesar, many of them based on a standard set of 19th century religious novels that would be made and remade over the next half of the 20th century. One of several specialists in the genre, Enrico Guazzoni filmed this second version Quo Vadis?, the prime exemplar of a subsidiary genre to “Life of Christ” films, one that might be called the “Christ vs. Caesar” genre. The title of this film means “Where are you going?” and the question is posed by the Ascended Christ to Peter in a vision as the latter departs Rome on the eve of an Imperial persecution. The main story, however, focuses on a Roman commander, Vinicius, who falls for a Christian girl, Lygia, and is so drawn into the underground Christian community, experiencing a personal transformation along the way. Read More »

Cecil B. DeMille – The Cheat (1915)

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Description: One of the early De Mille’s melodramas: love triangle, fruvolous wife, demonic Japanese tempter… But besides all that melodramatic rubbish it’s one of the most innovative films of the era. De Mille actively experimented with lighting, cutting, and framing to extend narrative technique. “The Cheat” featured probably the first use of so called “psychological editing: cutting not between two simultaneous events but to show the drift of a character’s thoughts. A must see. Read More »