Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and other silent film comedians has been made more accessible through DVD, for most people silent comedies have become unfashionable and incomprehensible artefacts from a distant and strange era, marked above all by the absence of audible spoken language which renders their aesthetic unacceptably ‘difficult’. We might experience amused admiration of the clever
26 2 Duvivier’s silent films Zola, vous pouvez tressaillir! Non plus d’angoisse, mais d’aise, et même d’orgueil: vous avez été respecté et compris.1 (Anonymous review of Au Bonheur des dames in Cinémagazine, May 1930) In Bernard Favre’s 2005 documentary Julien Duvivier: Cinéaste des désillusions, the American critic Lenny Borger states that, in order to understand and appreciate Duvivier’s entire fifty-year catalogue, we first need to watch his silent films: ‘Duvivier savait construire une histoire [et] savait construire l’ambiance tout de suite’.2
This is a comprehensive critical study of Anthony Asquith. The author sets the director's work in the context of British cinema from the silent period to the 1960s, and examines the artistic and cultural influences within which his films can be understood. Asquith's silent films were compared favourably to those of his eminent contemporary Alfred Hitchcock, but his career faltered during the 1930s. However, the success of Pygmalion (1938) and French Without Tears (1939), based on plays by George Bernard Shaw and Terence Rattigan respectively, together with his significant contributions to wartime British cinema, re-established him as one of Britain's leading film makers. Asquith's post-war career includes several pictures in collaboration with Rattigan, and the definitive adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1951), but his versatility is demonstrated effectively in a number of modest genre films including The Woman in Question (1950), The Young Lovers (1954) and Orders to Kill (1958).
Jean Renoir is widely seen as the greatest French director and one of the major figures of world cinema. This book introduces Renoir's life and his highly uneven career. It demarcates his vision of his films, craft and ideological evolution and draws substantially on his writings and interviews. As he made films addressing different audiences with varying degrees of freedom in shifting production and socio-historical contexts, the book identifies the periods when the contextual factors remained relatively stable. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, mon père is the text most frequently drawn upon to fill in his early years. The book deals with Renoir and his leftist critics and the auterists. He is a challenge to auteurists because of his commitment and his many changes of direction. Cahiers was a polemical journal, and the Cahiers critics were far from uniform in their general outlook or their specific response to Renoir. It then considers the films that Renoir directed during his first decade as a film-maker. They are considered in two groups: the silent films and those that followed the introduction of sound. Critics seem to assume a dehistoricised and homogenised America that is somehow the antithesis of France. Perhaps this is because 'Renoir américain' was seen on European screens when the cold war was raging and the world seemed polarised between two monolithic blocs. The book also deals with Renoir's late films after his return to France in 1951, after an absence of more than ten years.
One of the most surprising facts about film-editing technology is that until about 1916 there was none. This book discusses filmed fiction as it has evolved in America and Europe. It explores the history of filmmaking in a way that it is not usually done, looking in detail at films specifically to discover the way that they construct meaning rather than evaluating them in the context of the cultural circumstances of their production and reception. The book examines the primitive and unsophisticated early structuring methods of silent films to discover what steps brought film language to its most recognisable form and to explore any other avenues of experiment that might have suggested themselves on the way. It also examines such methods to discover why most films continue to be shot and structured in the ways that they are. The book evaluates new approaches that challenge convention, explaining how current practice accommodates to those conventional editing forms that have been historically determined. It is instructive to consider the structure and editing of The Great Train Robbery because in some ways it also defines a point from which filmmaking was restarted. A film of particular significance which constructs a narrative by carrying action across different scenes to produce an unbroken continuity is Rescued by Rover. The films examined bend the form to provide explorations of human emotions. Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves has a painful bleakness within it that seems to sit somewhat ill with its faith-confirming conclusion.
Glasgow Corporation had been sponsoring films for almost twenty years when in 1938 its Public Health Department commissioned seven silent films. This marked new relations between the Corporation and the emerging Scottish documentary film movement and a change of approach towards the films’ audiences and the city itself. The essay traces the Corporation‘s film sponsorship from the late 1930s to 1978 when the final images of Glasgow‘s Progress, the Corporation‘s last sponsored film - on its urban renewal projects were taken. By then the Corporation had been amalgamated into Strathclyde Regional Council, the century-long social project of reform had come to an end and television had made its own documentary impact. It argues that over time Corporation films served a variety of political and institutional purposes and often prefigured the fortunes of the city and its people.
of childcare in NER orphanages. Between Publicity and Propaganda: Learning Visual Advocacy The above list shows that humanitarian cinema sits at the convergence of professionalization of communication, entertainment practices, and information channels. Collaborations with newsreel companies such as Pathé or Universal, as well as with notorious filmmakers, internationalized the circuits of dissemination. The silent films included title cards translated into several languages, most often French or English. All the films were documentaries portraying the
expression in a more vehement, more discontinuous and crisis-prone manner than in any other art. Suffice to recall that the invention of the sound film took place right at the point in time when the silent film was reaching its highest artistic heights, and that this brought about a deep aesthetic crisis which lasted for years, and led to a serious artistic regression in film production. Sure
End of an era The event that traditionally marks the beginning of the sound era occurred on Friday 6 August 1926. On the evening of that day the very first commercially released synchronised sound film made by a major studio was premièred at the Warner Theatre on Broadway. The film was Don Juan , but it was really no different than many other ‘silent’ films made during the previous decade. Like them
). Yet, as Mayer also notes, problems arise when we apply the same descriptive criteria from our twenty-first-century perspective to silent film performances. Analysing silent film acting through the lens of present-day practice, then, tends to result in what Swender terms a ‘vague and often pejorative teleology’ (Swender 2006: 8). As early as 1930 in Spain, Guillermo Díaz Plaja also noted the marked ostensiveness of silent film from an earlier era: ‘hoy esa expresión exagerada nos parece grotesca. En el porvenir parecerán violentísimos algunos gestos que ahora