Category silent film

From Renee Smith to Sita Devi: Retrieving the Forgotten Enchantress of Silent Era

Indian cinema had birthed a fair share of visionaries even before the beginning of what later came to be termed as the Golden era. Under the reigns of the British Raj, certain Indian artists thrived upon the offerings that colonial engagements with art had to offer and used the political situation of the period to […]

City Lights (1931)

City Lights, which is widely considered to be, not only one of the greatest silent films ever made, but one of the greatest films ever made, is all that and more. As Portland State University instructor Dennis Grunes points, out Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece is “the seminal American movie of the Great Depression.” Then why did […]

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

(Note: This review is not about the 1959 version of Ben-Hur with Charlton Heston, which is a dull, bloated, overrated movie, or about the 2015 version, which nobody saw, but the original, silent epic Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which is a masterpiece.) On April 6 and April 7 of 1862 one of the […]

The General (1926)

The General is a cinematic marvel. If you’re under any illusion the Buster Keaton was merely a slapstick comedian, see it now. As a pure filmmaker, Keaton was fully the equal of Eisenstein, Vertov and Pudovkin, his three great Soviet contemporaries. Nevertheless, to compare The General to October, A Man With a Movie Camera, or […]

Mother (1926)

Mother, Vsevolod Pudovkin’s first major film, was released in 1926, two years before The End of St. Petersburg. I’ll leave the question of whether or not Mother is a feminist movie to the feminists. This essay by Cara Marisa Deleon does a better job of breaking down the way Mother approaches gender issues than I […]

The End of St. Petersburg (1927)

Unlike the French Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolution of 1917 coincided with the birth of cinema. We’ll never really know what the Fête de la Fédération, the first Bastille Day, looked like. We know it was held on July 14, 1790 on the Champ de Mars. We know that when it was all over […]

October (1928)

Originally posted on Writers Without Money:
One of most celebrated scenes from Eisenstein’s October. The career of Russian film maker Sergei Eisenstein, who lived from 1898 to 1948, can roughly be divided into three phases. In his mid-20s, he made Strike, October, and the iconic Battleship Potemkin. He spent most of his 30s in the…

A Man With a Movie Camera (1929)

When it came to his date of birth, David Abelevich Kaufman, better known by his adopted name Dziga Vertov, had perfect timing. He was 22 in 1917, just coming into the prime of his life during the early years of the Russian Revolution. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive ,” William Wordsworth […]

La Jetée (1962)

By the time I was born I the mid-1960s, cinema was already dead. At first glance, that seems absurd. Weren’t the 1960s and 1970s a “Golden Age” of cinema? After all, Godard’s Breathless was made in 1960. Weekend came out in 1967. Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola were still in film school, Robert Bresson […]

Metropolis (1927): Death and the Megamachine

In his seminal work Technics and Civilization, Lewis Mumford, a pioneer in the field of urban studies, developed the concept large, hierarchical organizations which he would eventually call “megamachines.” Since the megamachine, which he defines as a machine using humans as its components, has its origins in ancient Egypt and the construction of the pyramids, […]