March 9, 2012

Of the Moment: On Silent Films

At the moment, I'm loving...

This movie and in particular its focus on Georges Melies; the recreation of some of his movies scenes was just magical and the repetition of the iconic Moon with a rocket in its eye brought me back to my first art history class.

This article in The New Yorker, exploring the lost art of silent acting. Especially this bit on Greta Garbo, as described by Roland Barthes after attending a revival of her films in Paris and experienced as viewers in the 1920s would have:

Garbo still belongs to that moment in cinema when capturing the human face still plunged audiences into the deepest ecstasy, when one literally lost oneself in a human image as one would in a philtre, when the face represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither reached nor renounced. 

Oh to have experienced a film like that; there could be no words to describe it! And the bit about Bela Balazas describing the cinema as rebirth of the human in art and praising silence as necessary for its highest achievement:

The gestures of visual man [i.e., the film actor] are not intended to convey concepts which can be expressed in words, but such inner experiences, such non-rational emotions which would still remain unexpressed when everything that can be told has been told.

Whoa, it just blew me away. I think it's time I start taking a second look at silent films. 

Image credits: here; here; here

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