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

Oleg Frelikh – Prostitutka aka Prostitute (1927)

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From Imdb:
Prostitution, Statistics And Harangues, 13 November 2009
5/10
Author: FerdinandVonGalitzien

“Prostitutka” (1927) is a Bolshevist silent rarity, unusual because of its subject matter, that being prostitution in the U.S.S.R. The world’s oldest profession requires a treatment both delicate and balanced, not an easy topic for a first time director like Herr Oleg Frelikh. Actually, this little known work was Frelikh’s only film as a director (prior to this, he had been an actor) and it’s a flawed but interesting effort. Continue reading

F.W. Murnau – Der Letzte Mann AKA The Last Laugh (1924)

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Jannings’ character, the doorman for a famous hotel, is demoted to washroom (bathroom) attendant, as he is considered too old and infirm to be the image of the hotel. He tries to conceal his demotion from his friends and family, but to his shame, he is discovered. His friends, thinking he has lied to them all along about his prestigious job, taunt him mercilessly while his family rejects him out of shame. The man, shocked and in incredible grief, returns to the hotel to sleep in the bathroom where he works. The only person to be kind towards him is the night watchman, who covers him with his coat as he falls asleep. 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

Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Zemlya AKA Earth (1930)

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Dovzhenko was commissioned to make what was intended to be a minor propaganda film to encourage the establishment of farming collectives. Under Dovzhenko’s lyrical montage and photography what emerged far exceeded propaganda; Earth has repeatedly made every international top ten film list. Continue reading