Silent Film Journal

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

Re: Silent Film Journal

Postby wpqx » Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:30 pm

The Merry Widow (1925) - Erich Von Stroheim

With the exception of The Devil's Passkey (which by all accounts doesn't exist) I've now seen every Stoheim film as a director. This was one of the rare films that was actually successful at the time. Odd to think of making an operetta as a silent film, but it worked for Lubitsch why not Stroheim. The film isn't nearly as carefree and light as Lubitsch's sound version, but it is enjoyable at parts. Stroheim's direction however I have issue with. His characters are all horribly rigid and laughable stereotypes. The choice of shots seems to be two fold. Long shot of a lot of people gallivanting about and then grinning face shots as a direct address. It made me easy and led me to hate nearly every single person in the film whether I was supposed to or not. The film is almost too simplistic in it's heroes and villains and the casting is ridiculous for everyone except for Gilbert. Didn't help that the low grade VHS was fuzzy and poor quality, but these things shouldn't detract too much from the film.

Re: Silent Film Journal

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:49 am

Since I liked the Lubitsch version I was considering tracking this one down, but perhaps I shouldn't pursue it too ardently.

By the way, was the VHS French hardsubbed?

Re: Silent Film Journal

Postby wpqx » Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:48 pm

No, but it looked like a copy of a copy of a copy and the tape even had stop/play show up so I'm not sure if Facets original copy was destroyed or they just got it from a very unreliable source. Ozu can use direct head on shots of characters, but here it's just annoying.

Re: Silent Film Journal

Postby wpqx » Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:53 pm

The Haunted Castle/Schloss Vogelrod (1921) - F. W. Murnau

Well after struggling to stay awake and follow the plot I read that apparently I might not be alone. No one seems to know of any complete print of this film, and the version that has generally circulated is somewhere around 56 minutes. For this reason I wasn't entirely sure what the hell was going on, who shot who, and what was exactly haunted. By all accounts this was considered a mere stepping stone for Nosferatu. In more ways than one I was reminded of that film, because the first time I had seen Nosferatu was on a bad VHS with no musical accompaniment, same goes for the Haunted Castle, which has not been easy to find even in abridged fashion. A rather complete restoration took place on Murnau's long forgotten Phantom, so maybe there is hope, and certainly the recent Metropolis discovery can give some people faith. This film, a bit like The Burning Soil is to be sought out only for obsessive Murnau completionists like myself, not among his very best work and it seems even in the 1920's that mistaken identities and haunted house movies were getting formulaic and predictable, enough so that Paul Leni would satirize the genre by 1929's Cat and the Canary. Sad again though that now with this film out of the way I can only dream of watching more Murnau, lord I wish there was more out there.


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