My first b&w silent cinema experience in ... ooh ... 25 years?
Sunday, April 15, 2012 10:02:14 AM
Those of you who are not used to silent film might find it a bit tougher going. Not because the material is dense; the story could not be fluffier, and in fact the makers have succeeded in making the sort of enjoyable "churn out one a month" film that was the hallmark of the silent era. No, what may take you by surprise if that you have to focus all the way through a silent film in order to derive maximum enjoyment or even, in some cases, keep track of what is happening.
There is a musical score to help set the mood, and - without wishing to spoil it too much - there are sound effects and a tiny bit of audible dialogue (think of Marcel Marceau's cameo in Mel Brooks's "Silent Movie"), but in the main the story is told through mime and a few dialogue captions.
It is a very affectionate homage to the era, and while you might notice the absence of sound I'd be surprised if you regret that it is in black and white.
It must be 25 or even 30 years since I saw the Buster Keaton season at the Barbican and it is probably time I started taking in the odd silent film at the cinema again. I've always had a hankering for Napoleon with the full orchestra, but I'll settle for a season of Fatty Arbuckle films, or Harry Langdon, or anything with Lillian Gish.