Monday, May 30, 2011

16. Häxan


Well, I have discovered that silent horror films are freaking awesome and this movie is no exception.  This movie is a kind of "documentary" on witchcraft through the ages.  There are some freaky reenactments (some I have no idea what the hell happened) and some pretty weird images.  These include nuns dancing and laughing hysterically, the devil beating someone with a bat, and a monk that resembles Gargantua chasing around a maid after eating cat feces and dove hearts.  This movie is just plain weird.  Entertaining, but weird.  Best to watch when under the influence.

RATING: ***--(more stars if I understood the nun scene)

Interesting Facts:

Been on a good streak lately with the movies.  Let's keep it going!!

One of the actresses claimed that she saw the devil repeatedly at her bedside.  The director included that scene in the movie.  I think if someone said that now people would think that she was sexually abused.

The director cameoed as both the devil and Jesus Christ (not exactly similar characters).

You can watch the full movie here:

15. Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens

Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens
Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror

I think this is one of the most enjoyable movies that have been on the list so far, which is saying a lot because I whine incessantly about silent films.  I am an avid fan of the book Dracula by Bram Stoker so I did not know if I would be indignant during this movie or pleased and fortunately it was the latter.
First of all, Max Schreck is one scary looking guy as you can see (wtf is with his fingers?!??!).  There is absolutely no dialogue in the book (it is all just letters or journal entries) which I thought was extremely fitting for a silent movie.  The lack of dialogue, which is usually my biggest grievance, was actually entertaining, because that is how I pictured it from reading the book.  I also thought the soundtrack was the best out of all the films.  I think I am the only one who thinks so though because I surfed the web about this movie and everyone else thought it was annoying.  I don't really know what that says about me...

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Bram Stoker's estate really did not want this to become a film.  It was destroyed but resurfaced in other countries.  The director also changed the names of some of the characters and changed the ending so he could say it was not exactly like the book.  Kind of a jackass move there, Murnau.
Most of the set is still intact in the village in Germany where it was filmed.

I do not want to ruin the ending for you, but when you do see it, you will be able to recognize a superstition about vampires modern day that they invented.

Here is the complete movie from YouTube.  You can watch it right now; it is only 84 minutes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

14. Nanook of the North

Nanook of the North

I watched this "documentary" after I had eaten a very satisfying meal and was curled up in my bed with my blankets.  But watching this film transported me to a completely different world (one that resembles Hoth) that looked terrifying.  This movie is a documentary (although most of it is staged) of an Eskimo named Nanook and his family.  The film shows what they have to do to survive which includes snaring seals (watching them skin it was not fun), hiding in igloos (staged), and catching fish that they killed with their teeth.  I thought it was interesting because how often do you see a film about Eskimos?  I love seeing different perspectives and if you are like me, you should definitely see it (it is only about an hour).

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Nanook died shortly after the release.  A lot of sources say it was starvation, but some believe that it was most likely tuberculosis.

Some people say that this film was entirely staged, and that the woman who is Nanook's wife in the movie was not his real wife.

(I used way to many parentheses in this post).

You can watch this entire film right now on this blog.  Do it.  Just do it.  Do it. (a complimentary Starsky and Hutch reference).


13. Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler

Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler
Dr. Mabuse The Gambler

This handsome fellow I have pictured above is the man that this 300 minute film centers around.  This movie gave me severe Les Vampires flashbacks and not necessarily in a good way.  It certainly has a more intriguing plot than other films back in the day, but still 300 minutes of silent film?  Come on!

This movie is about Dr. Mabuse who is a murderer and a swindler.  The film follows his shenanigans and it would be impossible to write a short synopsis.  Rest assured, shit happens.  This movie was made in 1922 so it is partly a satire about the country of Germany in that time.  Anyone who has taken a history class knows that Germany was not doing so hot in the 20s.  Looking at the movie from that perspective, I think you can render a lot of enjoyment from it.  Definitely a better version of Les Vampires but why are these movies so goddamn long?!?!! Maybe I just have ADD or something.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

There was actually a completely nude woman in one of the scenes.  However, the director did not like how her pubic hair looked (I hate it when that happens).  He threw a fit, but she would not shave so he covered that area with a cloth.  Only seen in old versions.

Can be watched on Netflix Instant.

I could not find this on YouTube but I did find a trailer for it:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

12. La Souriante Madame Beudet

La Souriante Madame Beudet
The Smiling Madame Beudet

Well, as you can see from the above picture, Madame was not smiling throughout this movie.  I, on the other hand, was.  I thought this movie was very well-made compared to other silent movies of the time.  Of course, you must remember that my general distaste for silent movies was quelled in this flick because it was very short.  And I also may have just liked it because I was really sick of Lillian Gish.

This movie is about a smart lady who is trapped in a marriage without love.  She therefore plots to kill her scary-looking  husband.  This movie is apparently one of the first feminist movies.  However, that does not mean that men would not enjoy it. I liked it because a person (not just a woman, a person) was unhappy and was going to do something about it.  Granted, I am NOT for killing anything (emphasis on ANYTHING: I am a vegetarian) but I still enjoyed the plot development.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Only 54 minutes with French subtitles.  Actually, if you are interested in the French language you should check it out.  I know only rudimentary French and I could read the title cards without looking at the English translations.  Needless to say, I felt pretty awesome.

Directed by Germaine Dulac, who is a woman.

Here is the first part on YouTube:

Friday, May 27, 2011

11. Orphans of a Storm

Orphans of a Storm

I actually thought this movie was kind of interesting which is rare for me when it comes to silent films.  I really do like Lilian Gish and the plot moved along nicely.  That being said, this is probably one of D.W. Griffith's worst historical films and I had never even heard about it before the lovely 1001 book introduced it to me.

This movie is about the French Revolution and the effect it has on two sisters.  One becomes blind and the other is kidnapped (I want to travel with these two party animals!).  There is also a romance between Henriette (the kidnapped one) and this old guy who looks like he is wearing make up.  Overall, I thought it was actually pretty engaging but apparently I am one of the few who do.  I read a lot of criticisms about how the plot does not move along quickly or how it is historically inaccurate.  But since when is Griffith ever historically accurate?  Is that really a standard?

I think Griffith was racist and ignorant but I owe him a lot.  Movies are one of my passions and I know they couldn't be where they are today without him.  I also know that the silent films have not kept my attention as well as his has (with the exception of The Cabinet of Dr. Calgari).  I just have to figure out a way for my older sister, Rachel, to believe me...

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:


Someone was killed on set when a prop gun went off. Why was it loaded?!?!?!?

You can watch the movie on Youtube or on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Originally Lillian Gish was going to play her trademark character, the helpless Louise.  However, her sister, who was much more strong willed than she was, played Louise and Lillian played Henriette.

This weekend I am going to watch my all time favorite Moulin Rouge and a semi favorite Jesus Christ Superstar with my best friend Brie.  I need words dammit!  After I am refreshed with those films, I will probably return to the silent movies with a vengeance!

Here is a kind of tribute I found. I figured there should be some kind of farewell video for Griffith for everything he did (the good, the bad, and the ugly).  Not many people are willing to make a video for him, but this kind of just goes over his movies.  Goodbye strange man!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

10. Körkarlen

The Phantom Carriage

I feel really bad that I continually say that I do not like these movies.  I mean, I sound like such a brat.  Here are pictures that changed cinema forever and I have to be the bitchy person from the generation of Disney who denounces them.  Yet silent films like this one are boring.  They are BORING!!! You can appreciate the camera angles, the score, the innovations, the techniques until you drop dead but are you really ever 100% entertained? Hell no.

This movie is very Christmas Carol. The man looks back at his life and sees what a mess it is.  Shall I start my rant on Charles Dickens?  No, I think I will spare you that.   The score for this movie is impressive but like I said BORING!  Is it time for Moulin Rouge yet?

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Sometimes called the first horror movie.  However, we 1001 folk know that that was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

It was kind of cool how they made the souls come out of the bodies.  We see that all time in modern movies.

I am sorry I have been whining (although I don't feel too bad because I have like zero followers).  I am going to watch some movies with dialogue (which in my opinion is the best part of the movie) so I don't get so cranky next time.

Here is the first part of the movie on Youtube:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

9. Within Our Gates

Within Our Gates

I really liked the idea of this movie better than the actual film itself. For those of you who do not know, this film is completely directed and starred in by African Americans.  Keep in mind that this was before Martin Luther King Jr. and post Birth of a Nation, one of the most racist films of all time.  So when you think about it, it is really cool that this film was popular when it came out.  The significance is there, no doubt about it.  But is the enjoyment there?  Not hardly.

I have come to the realization that some of these movies are not on the list because the are entertaining (some seem to have never even heard of the word) but because they are influential.  I am okay with that because I am head over heels in love with cinema.  Still, watching twenty silent films in a row is no picnic.  Don't panic though! This fearless blogger is going to keep trucking through!

This film is about  a woman who is abandoned by her fiance and consequently is in a state of overacted distress.  More stuff happens blah blah blah.  It is kind of boring and hard to follow.  The title cards are kind of just guesses of what the original said. Overall, I am glad I saw it but I know I will never watch it again.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

This film was lost for many years but was recovered in Spain in the 1990s.

This can be watched on Youtube.

One of the earliest films made by an African American.

This is the first part of the film on Youtube:

Monday, May 23, 2011

8. Way Down East

Way Down East

I found this film very enjoyable.  It is one of the few instances where D.W. Griffith is not in your face about race issues and it was refreshing.  The plot is pretty sexy for the time and the entire film holds your interest, despite its two and a half hour length.

This movie is about a woman who gets pregnant by a man who she thinks she is married to.  I don't want to ruin anything for you (not that anyone reads this blog anyway) but the baby isn't really even a part of it.  This movie is a classic tale about how males are viewed in society vs. how women are viewed.  Griffith does not hesitate to share his opinion on typical male nature. I found this very interesting particularly because 1920, the year this came out, was the year women were allowed to vote.  Definitely worth a watch.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Robert Harron shot himself after this film came out.  Lillian Gish denied that it was an attempt of suicide but the whole incident was very mysterious.

The ice floe scenes were apparently huge pains in the ass and Lillian Gish suffered from the effects until her dying day.  Again, an instance where it is really hard to like Griffith.

The famous ice floe scene:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

7. Broken Blossoms

Broken Blossoms

Everytime I watch a D.W. Griffith, I walk away feeling vaguely impressed and really disturbed.  The same holds true for this film which centers around a girl who has an abusive father.  She falls in love with The Yellow Man (seriously Griffith?) and it ultimately ends tragically.  It had the most interesting plot of a Griffith movie so far in my opinion but again Griffith continues to make things difficult.  I want to like him so badly (I actually had an argument with my sister about him) for what he did for cinema but he continues to display his own ignorance as well as his magnificence in his works.  He is one tough nut to crack but you have to give him props, particularly with this film, for keeping the audience engrossed.

RATING: **--- (I would give more if I didn't feel so disturbed)

Interesting Facts:

Richard Bartheless was not actually Oriental.  He wore a rubber band on top of his head to give his features a slanted appearance.  If this surprises you, you have obviously not seen other D.W. Griffith movies.

Lillian Gish was sick of doing movies with Griffith and had to be heavily persuaded to do this one.  Probably because all of her characters in his films are wusses.

Friday, May 20, 2011

6. Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari

6. Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari

This was my favorite movie from the list so far which was weird because I felt like my friends and I could have performed it in my backyard.  When (and I say when because you would be stupid not to watch it) you see it, you feel like you are in a theater.  Not only are the sets really fake and crazy-looking, but the camera does not move a lot.  Still, I loved it!

This movie's plot is within a plot because the story is told by a man in an asylum.  Several murders take place and I do not want to give away the ending but suffice to say there are some pretty intriguing plot twists.  Finally, a silent movie that you can pay attention to!

I thought this movie was about five times more interesting than the others.  Although this movie strongly resembles a Tim Burton (I don't like Tim Burton) and has a zombie-like character in it ( I don't like zombie movies) it still is a must see, if only for pure entertainment.

RATING: ****_

Interesting Facts:

The first true horror film.

The shadows were painted on the walls and the sets were made out of paper.  It was a bit of an exaggeration when I said me and my friends could perform this because the sets actually have a bizarrely professional look about them and we are not very artistic.

You should really forget what I said about watching the other movies.  I mean I know I went on about cinematography and all that shit but this is pure entertainment!  Go see it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5. Intolerance


This film I feel must be reviewed for two different categories.  One is entertainment and one is film quality.  Qualitywise, this movie is amazing.  The picture shown above shows how huge and intricate the sets were.  It also has an extra cast exceeding 3,000.  The score is also excellent and the acting is a lot better than you would suspect in a silent film.  However, I must say that I was not engrossed the whole time.  I mean, it is over three hours long and silent.  This definitely should be watched in sections.

This movie has four different stories going on at different times in history.  The most interesting I would say is the one that involves a woman whose baby is getting taken away from her.

I think I learned a lot about D.W. Griffith from watching these films.  I had a preconceived notion that he was a viciously racist man but I really don't think he did it intentionally.  He was actually a monumental film maker apart from the ugly garbage that was in Birth of a Nation.  The moral of the story: don't judge a director by the racism in his earlier films because they get better (is that the expression?).

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

This film is listed as 49 on AFI's top 100 list.

This film was extremely expensive for the time (2 million) and never came close to grossing that much.

The guy who played Jesus is this film was involved in a sex scandal with a fourteen year old girl. That doesn't exactly go with his character in the movie.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

4. Les Vampires

Les Vampires
The Vampires (in case you are stupid)

Wow, that was exhausting.  In case you did not know, this movie is a total of 440 minutes long.  And it is silent.  My theory is that even if you are totally into the movie's plot and characters you cannot continue to enjoy yourself for that long of a time period.  That is not to say this movie was not interesting, but it was a little hard to swallow.
This movie is about a gang of criminals called Les Vampires who pretty much go around looking hot in black leotards (definitely my outfit of choice if I was working against the law).  There is also this "hottie" named Irma Vep who I think kind of looks like a wild animal. The movie (s?!?) is divided into ten parts which have everything from secret panels to executions.  A must watch even if you do it over several months.

RATING: ***-- (it is the length that makes it hard to watch)

Interesting Facts:

The aforementioned Irma Vep, played by Musidora (who you know is glamorous because she has one name) was considered quite the dish, and was made famous by this film.

Musidora was an acrobat who did her own stunts.

The next movie on the list is over three hours long. Yay...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

3. Birth of a Nation

Birth of a Nation

Charmingly racist and delightfully long and boring, this movie is a must see!  I am kidding of course; this movie is the worst.  I thought that I was capable of getting past the blatant racism and seeing the elements of revolutionary cinematography but no such luck.  Maybe it is because I grew up in a pretty ignorant and racist town so I have a shorter fuse for it.  This story is about the South and the Civil War.  It also happens to be three hours and seven minutes long.  But hey at least the next movie on the list is six hours long.  I could use a break (in case you had not realized I am a very sarcastic person).
RATING: -----

Interesting Facts (a new thing I am doing to make my posts longer):

Some African American characters were actually white people dressed up like black people.  To add insult to injury sometimes a white male played a black female.

People were clamoring to pretend that they were a part of this film because of its significance.  Kind of the opposite of what I would do.

The director was hurt when people thought his movie was racist.  Fancy that!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

2. The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery

This movie can be knocked out as easily as the previous one.  I think this one has to do more with influence than actual entertainment value.  Fortunately this can be watched while playing an equally engaging game of spider solitaire.  Thank goodness for multitasking!
RATING: *----

1. Le Voyage dans le Lune

Le Voyage dans le Lune
The Voyage to the Moon

This movie is so short that I really did not feel like I had to form an opinion.  It is only ten minutes and is available on YouTube.  Reviewing old movies is extremely difficult because the technology and the techniques are so outdated and parodied that you can never feel the full effect.  I do know that this movie was ridiculous enough to be delightfully entertaining.
RATING: **--- 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Challenge

Hi everyone!
I decided to become the most fulfilled person in the world and complete both 1001 lists.  I am a major film buff so I think this will be a lot of fun!  I have made such a dent in this list however that it will be awhile until I am up to date but since no one reads my blog anyway we should be good to go!  Enjoy and leave comments!

P.S. All facts/clips will come from either Wikipedia, IMDb, or Youtube.