Abel Gance – La Roue (1923)

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Flicker Alley says…

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Never before released in the United States, this monumental French film is one of the most extraordinary achievements in the whole history of cinema. Written and directed by Abel Gance (Napoleon, J’Accuse), three years in production, and for its time unprecedented in length and complexity of emotion, La Roue pushed the frontiers of film art beyond all previous efforts. Said Gance, “Cinema endows man with a new sense. It is the music of light. He listens with his eyes.” Continue reading

Sergei M. Eisenstein – Dnevnik Glumova AKA Glumov’s Diary (1923)

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The first film from Eisenstein.

From allmovie

” Eisenstein’s interest in film began with an appreciation of the work of D.W. Griffith, whose editing style influenced him in the production of his first cinematic endeavor, the 1923 five-minute newsreel parody Dnevnik Glumova. A stint with Lev Kuleshov’s film workshop followed, as did an increasing fascination with the burgeoning avant-garde.” Continue reading

Guido Brignone – Maciste all’inferno AKA Maciste in Hell (1925)

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Scifilm wrote:
Maciste is tempted by the devil, and ends up trapped in hell when he elects to fight him.

Bartolomeo Pagano played Maciste in the 1914 movie CABIRIA; he must have liked the character; he ended up playing him repeatedly in a variety of movies over the next twenty years. I do wonder about the character’s position in time; CABIRIA took place in ancient Rome, but even if I’m not sure when this movie takes place, it’s certainly a much later period of time; Maciste wears a suit and tie through most of this, and at one point he is tempted with some shots of very modern cities indeed. Nonetheless, the fantasy element is very strong; the scenes in hell are great, with a huge cast of demons and fiends, including a couple of giant demons, a flying dragon, and some great special effects. It’s based at least partially on Dante’s “Inferno”, and it includes both Lucifer, Pluto and Proserpine as characters. I would love to have seen some of the other early Maciste movies just to see what the character’s story was, but this one and CABIRIA are the only ones I know exist for sure. It’s definitely worth a look for people interested in creative visions of hell; the movie apparently served as an inspiration both for Mario Bava and Federico Fellini. Continue reading

Robert F. McGowan – Mary, Queen of Tots (1925)

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A couple makes dolls modeled on neighborhood kids. A gardener at a mansion buys four of them for Mary, the girl of the house. He’s her only friend: her parents neglect her for work and card games and her governess is humorless. Mary loves the dolls and dreams of them during her nap. While Mary sleeps, the governess throws the dolls in the dust bin. Mary wakes and goes searching – outside she runs into the very same four kids who were the dolls’ models, and she thinks she’s still dreaming. She invites them back to the mansion where she’ll either make fast friends or the gang will need to make a fast getaway when the governess finds them. Continue reading

Robert Wiene – I.N.R.I. AKA Crown of Thorns (1923)

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By the director of Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, this is the Passion embedded in a contemporary story. An anarchist jailed for an attempted assassination is told the Passion story by the prison chaplain, who seeks to convince him that it is better to sacrifice ones own life than take the life of ones enemy. The framing story, taken from a novel, is believed to have been intended to give the Biblical story an anti-Bolshevist propaganda function. In any case, it was added without the knowledge of the actors in the Passion story, who included some of the major stars of the period Asta Nielsen as Mary Magdalene, Henny Porten as Mary, Grigori Chmara as Jesus, and Werner Krauss as Pontius Pilate -bampfa.berkeley.edu Continue reading