Aleksandr Medvedkin – Schastye aka Happiness [+Extras] (1932)

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Aleksandr Medvedkin’s Happiness, as rowdy as any Soviet silent movie, is a comic parable composed of equal parts of Tex Avery and Luis Buñuel. It satirizes the plight of a Soviet farmer who finds himself providing for the state, the church, and his peers at the expense of his personal satisfaction. A hapless young prole, Khmyr, is tasked by his wife with the goal of going out in the world and finding happiness, lest he end up dead and dissatisfied after a lifetime of toil, like his father. Through stylistic exaggeration and a systematic attack on pre- and post-Revolutionary Russia’s dearest institutions, the movie achieves a wide-ranging, and deeply wounding, attack on the limitations placed on personal freedom in Russian society Continue reading

Viggo Larsen – Løvejagten AKA The Lion Hunt (1907)

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Synopsis
Two big game hunters are on safari in the jungle with their African guide. They observe zebras, ostrich and a hippopotamus, and catch a small monkey for a pet. During the night they are awakened by a lion which kills a small goat and then the hunters’ horse. The hunters shoot the lion as it stands by the water on a beach. They discover another lion and shoot it also. The lions are gutted and skinned. The happy hunters sit and smoke cigarettes afterward. Continue reading

Abel Gance – La Roue (1923)

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Flicker Alley says…

Quote:

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

Lawrence B. McGill – How Molly Malone Made Good (1915)

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This 1915 film stars Marguerite Gale as the title character, a journalist trying to make her name by interviewing celebrities for the New York Tribune. Picture quality is quite good, although the print is a little dark on the whole. A number of celebrities play themselves, including noted drag performe Julian Eltinge, and burlesque star Mabel Fenton. 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 Reinert – Opium (1919)

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“Opium” (1919)

Produced in Germany by Meinert-Films
Directed by Robert Dinesen
Released in 1919 with a running time of 112 minutes.

Cast Werner Krauss, Sybill Morel, Hanna Ralph, Conrad Veidt and Eduard von Winterstein

Cinematic Freedom

Germany in 1919 was a country that had been devastated by the war, four years of slaughter, famine, civil unrest, a civil war and runaway inflation. The country was in dire need of change. The Council of Peoples Representatives in 1919 abolished the military censorship that had been in effect since 1918. The council believed that the numerous political parties causing unrest would use the screen to spread their political views instead of battling in the streets. The political parties continued using the streets and beer halls to spread their message, but, having nothing to fear from government interference, the film industry decided to take advantage of the abolishment of censorship. Continue reading