Thursday, April 1, 2010

Silent Perfection

I enjoyed watching Greed today. I have always been intrigued by early film and the techniques they employed to convey emotion and meaning. Watching a silent movie is like reading the writings of William Shakespeare, it is extremely difficult to grasp the meaning if you have not done it very much. Our society has been corrupted with “instant gratification” in regards to movies. We expect explosions a quick plot line, and even plotlines that are complicated have a standard of keeping up the interest of the audience. Instead of action and dialogue actors used Melodrama.
Melodrama is the term most people associate with a silent films. The over acting and extreme facial expressions often get a comedic reaction to modern audiences, but it is important to remember that melodrama is how emotion was conveyed. Norris wrote McTeague in the fashion of a melodrama. His characters are at the extremes of the spectrum, Mac with his larger than life frame and Trina with her innocents. The beauty of classic film is that you have to wait and stay active in the story. Greed did a wonderful job of connecting to McTeague, in my opinion better than a modern film could.
I have considered, however, if there was a movie made in the last twenty years that would compare to the plot line of Greed. Any ideas?


  1. I agree completely. With a little practice watching a silent film is no different than watching any modern blockbuster if you ask me.I also thought the lack of special effects and more rudimentary filming styles to be quite refreshing. The lack of dialogue is hardly something that one cannot overcome with a little practice, you just need to pay attention to the music, body language and other gestures to understand what the actors are 'saying' to one another. Not to mention the plot lines themselves are not overly complicated.

  2. I love this comment, Lynette: "The beauty of classic film is that you have to wait and stay active in the story." You've captured it exactly.

    I don't know about the last 20 years, but how about _Wall Street_?

  3. There is a reason that Charlie Chaplin is still loved today. The silent film (both making and watching!) is an art form for the patient.

  4. I agree that watching a movie without sound is not a bad thing. It makes one focus more upon the expressions of the actors. This also allows for the movie to last and still be able to be understood by people from our age.