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What Would People Think?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Movies You Should Watch (Not Hear)

Roger Ebert writes today about Faust, a 1926 film by the great silent film director F.W. Murnau. It seems Faust is another in the line of surrealistic silent films that capture the imagination like few films do today. I love these old films, with their bizarre imagery, their obviously artificial effects, and their willingness to go for broke with scenes that seem like something out of a half-formed nightmare you just woke up from.

Visually speaking, so many of today's films are boring. They're just about people standing around talking. In the early years of film, directors were still drunk on the excitement of making IMAGES! Sure, this sometimes came at the expense of a coherent plot, but frankly (and I know I'm hypocritical for saying this considering how much I complain about modern films with bad plots) I just don't care. The images from these movies stick in my mind long after any plot problems fade into oblivion.

These days (with the exception of the occasional Dark City) films don't try to plumb the depths of visual imagination to create new pictures for the pop culture. They're usually just about people standing around talking. (Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of good films about people standing around talking.)

So, in honor of the imagination, before sound and studios came to crush it in the name of the almighty dollar, I encourage you to check out the following silent movies (I've linked them to either an Ebert essay or their IMDB page).

The Phantom of the Opera
Sunrise (The only one to get creative even in its use of subtitles!)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

While you're at it, go see anything with Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. You'll then understand how physical comedy is done....and see the precursor to modern physical comedians like Jackie Chan.

I'm open for more suggestions of visually impressive films (silent or not).


  • Rejoice! You finally have a blog! It actually took reading the comment on the previous post before I fully got the reference in the title - I at first assumed it was a play on the "What Would Jesus Do?" campaign. Then again, maybe that's what DC Talk was sending up too.

    Incidentally, your ass is getting blogrolled. Also, I love how you and Christy pre-empt anyone who might fall in love with you via blog by emphasizing your attachment. It's uber cute :-D (Although I've heard that being in love makes you want to shout it from the rooftops - having never experienced the requited variety I can only speculate.)

    Welcome to the wonderful land of blogging! May you update more than I.

    By Blogger Mike, at 5/08/2005 2:01 PM  

  • I second Mike's welcoming you to the blogosphere and will also be blogrolling your ass (not as painful as it sounds) ASAP. I commend your non-controversial choice of subject matter for your first blog entry!

    By Blogger Jacob Grier, at 5/08/2005 11:13 PM  

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