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Cleveland Independent Movie Goers Message Board › Artists of the Silent Screen

Artists of the Silent Screen

A former member

Hi Movie Friends!

First – Happy New Year to all!

From all indications 2012, will be a great year for film.

Recently in conversations with several group members, I was somewhat surprised to learn of their reluctance to attend a silent film. When I asked if they were planning on seeing Intolerance or The Spiders next month, all I got was a shrug. That response wasn't a big surprise albeit disappointing.

We have had mixed results for silent films in the past few years but they have mostly been a hard sell. Several years ago we had only two members screen Vampyr – Der Traum des Allan Grey, a classic horror film that pioneered visual effects. Perhaps we have been spoiled with the big colorful Hollywood productions or conditioned by made-for-television movies. It is surprising when you consider that many films we see are in a foreign language with subtitles making the spoken word almost irrelevant.

The two films we have scheduled in January, Intolerance (1/7) and The Spiders (1/19) are perfect films to set the stage for screening The Artist on January 21st, the day after it opens in the Cleveland market. They will provide a rare opportunity to see some of the cinematic techniques that are rarely used in today's movie world that depends on special effects (F/X) and computer generated imagery (CGI).

If terms like - Iris In/Iris Out; Tracking Shot/Travelling Shot/Dollying Shot; a Wipe; or Subjective Camera Shot; are a mystery, then I would recommend doing some preliminary research work on Wikipedia: Cinematic Techniques. I just did a quick brush-up on these techniques and terms that I first learned in Bob West's Film 101 at John Carroll a couple of years ago. (Thanks Prof. West!) A basic understanding of these cinematic techniques will really enhance your enjoyment of these movies, cinematography and movies in general.

Hope to see you at one of these special films – or perhaps all.


Ps: I thought that you might like to see some comments by John Ewing, director of Cinémathèque­, on this subject.

Artists of the Silent Screen – Cinémathèque­

"The new film The Artist is one of the cleverest and most entertaining movies in years. This might surprise some people since it is (1) French, (2) in black and white, and (3) silent—though with a music track. A likely multiple Oscar nominee (its star, Jean Dujardin, already won the Best Actor prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival), The Artist may just spark interest in the authentic silent films from the first three decades of the twentieth century.

At least that's what we're banking on. And why not? The silent period was one of the greatest eras of cinema history. Without sound and dialogue to steal their thunder, images and actions reigned supreme on screen, justifying the term "moving pictures." It was an exciting era during which an infant medium began to crawl, learned to walk, then took off running.

The rapid progress was attributable to an astounding array of international artists who worked behind and in front of the cameras: from George Méliès, D.W. Griffith, and Lillian Gish to Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, and Fritz Lang. All of these giants (and many others) are represented in this two-month series in which we present some of the greatest glories of the silent cinema—all in film prints, all with either live or recorded music. These movies are not historical curiosities from a bygone era. These are living, breathing works of film art that have not lost their capacity to astound, move, and delight audiences. See as many as you can and then mourn, for a moment at least, the advent of talkies." – John Ewing

­The Artist - 7 p.m. Saturday, January 21st at Cinemark Valley View / LockKeepers­

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