Silent

Abel Gance – J’accuse! (1919)

The Movie
J’Accuse is a story set against the backdrop of World War I that is considered one of the most technically advanced films of the era and the first major pacifist film. Gance, who had served briefly in the military during World War I, decided to return to active service in 1919 in order to film real battle scenes to include in the project. The film was reedited and shortened for peacetime reissue in 1922, and has not been available since in its original form.
Lobster Films Studios, Paris, working in collaboration with Netherlands Filmmuseum have culled materials from the Lobster Collection, the Czech archive in Prague, the Cinematheque Francaise, and the Netherlands Filmmuseum to make the best possible and most complete edition of the original 1919 edit of the film. Read More »

Vsevolod Pudovkin – Potomok Chingis-Khana aka Storm Over Asia (1928)

In 1918 a simple Mongol herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the occupying army. However he is captured when the army tries to requisition cattle from the herdsmen at the same time as the commandant meets with the reincarnated Grand Lama. After being shot, the army discovers an amulet that suggests he was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. They find him still alive, so the army restores his health and plans to use him as the head of a Mongolian puppet regime. Read More »

King Vidor & George W. Hill – The Big Parade [+Extras] (1925)

Quote:
A Superlative War Picture.
An eloquent pictorial epic of the World War was presented last night at the Astor Theatre before a sophisticated gathering that was intermittently stirred to laughter and tears. This powerful photodrama is entitled “The Big Parade,” having been converted to the screen from a story by Laurence Stallings, co-author of “What Price Glory,” and directed by King Vidor. It is a subject so compelling and realistic that one feels impelled to approach a review of it with all the respect it deserves, for as a motion picture it is something beyond the fondest dreams of most people. Read More »

Lev Kuleshov – Po zakonu AKA By the law (1926)

Barbara Wurm, Edition Filmmuseum wrote:
Po zakonu (also know as Dura Lex) was the cheapest film produced in Russia (perhaps even still today); at the same time an absolute masterpiece, the greatness of which stems from its very minimalism. The minimum effort required for the story-development (Kuleshov constantly claimed, he happened upon Jack London’s story “The Unexpected” quite by chance), the minimum number of characters (just three for most of the film), a minimum of inter-titles and lines of dialogue, a minimum of locations; a clearing not far from Moscow (posing as “Alaska”) and a cabin–the perfect setting for a stripped-to-basics chamber play. Even if the juggling of shot composition and length (Kuleshov’s notorious “Americanism”) is not as artistically ambitious as in his previous work, it is still apparent how close-ups dominate inside, whilst outside, in the snowy landscapes and riverscapes, long shots reign, seemingly to the point of halting all movement. Read More »

Paul Leni – The Man Who Laughs (1928)

When a proud noble refuses to kiss the hand of the despotic King James in 1690, he is cruelly executed and his son surgically disfigured into a permanent grin. The son can only make a living as a travelling circus clown – The Laughing Man! Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – The Salvation Hunters (1925)

Synopsis
Often described as “the first American independent film”, von Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters is an austere and obscurely naturalist drama about “humans who crawl near the floor.”

“It’s hard now to appreciate the bomb-shell that Sternberg’s first feature must have been in Hollywood at the time: its slow pace, its lyrical pessimism, and its strong emphasis on the psychological over the physical set it far apart from anything that the American cinema had produced” (Tony Rayns, Time Out Film Guide). Shot for less than five thousand dollars in the span of three weeks, the groundbreaking Salvation Hunters announced the emergence of a major new talent, even if audiences of the day didn’t quite know what to make of its grimy settings, glum tone, and overt symbolizing. Read More »

Buster Keaton – Seven Chances (1925)

Buster Keaton plays a young lawyer who will inherit $7 million at 7 o’clock on his 27th birthday–provided he is married. Long before discovering this, Keaton has pursued a lifelong courtship of Ruth Dwyer, whose refusals have become ritualistic over the years (the passage of time is amusingly conveyed by showing a puppy grow to adulthood). He proposes again, but this time she turns him down because she thinks (mistakenly) that he wants her only so that he can claim his inheritance. The doleful Keaton is thus obliged to spend the few hours left before the 7 PM deadline in search of a bride–any bride. Read More »