The 69th Annual Golden Globes are history, yet the winner of Best Picture for a Comedy or Musical, “The Artist,” has brought to our attention an unusual film genre rarely seen nowadays: silent films. To point out how archaic silent films are, a story appeared regarding a screening of “The Artist.” It was shown in a movie theater in Liverpool, England, because of its hype as a BAFTA and Oscar contender. What the audience did not realize was it literally is a silent film, completely in black and white with a reduced screen format. Unfortunately, the Liverpool audience did not get its intent as a tribute to Hollywood’s golden era. Instead, they demanded their money back.
Not everyone will appreciate the significance of the pure artistry and originality of “The Artist.” It is very likely people in smaller cities in the United States may do the same thing as in Liverpool. They will not understand it is an art film, first and foremost.
For those who truly love all types of movies but are sick of the non-stop action, crude humor, and over-the-top 3-D special effect popcorn flicks, take comfort in this masterpiece of a film. “The Artist” reintroduces us to silent films. On occasion Turner Movie Classics shows silents. Independent movie theaters throughout the country screen silent film classics for its members. Another way to enjoy a silent film is to rent a DVD. Here are a few silent films worth checking out.
One listed has the distinction of being the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The Golden Globe Awards were not in existence, though the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) was in its infancy with the Hollywood Foreign Press Correspondents’ establishment in 1928. Silent film stars Charlie Chaplin Mary Pickford was in attendance for their inaugural gala event.
In “Wings,” the very first winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, two American fighter pilots from small towns create a lasting bond during World War I in France. Gary Cooper, who would later win an Oscar for his portrayal of Lou Gehrig in “The Pride of the Yankees,” has a minor role. One thing prominent about silent films is their melodrama and tugging your emotional heartstrings.
“Gold Rush” (1925)
Charlie Chaplin, the king of the silent film era, stars in this classic about prospecting for gold in Alaska. Before the days of stuntmen and stuntwomen, these actors in silent films had to do their own dangerous stunts. In order to convey the story, actors were expected to be over-the-top in their physicality. Anything Chaplin does on film is a treat to film aficionados.
From Germany here’s a sci-fi, fantasy silent film about two groups, the workers and the thinkers. It’s interesting to see this film’s vision of high-technology and the industrial revolution. One such thinker decides to go underground, where the workers toil away like slaves. Things will never be the same once this free thinker gets involved.