Well, this is the second top silent films list I have made, except a little longer. Now, I have watched over 65 silent films and most of them have been very entertaining indeed. From Chaplin to Murnau, watchign silent films is an enchanting experience were you get to take a step back into history of how films were made. Here are what I consider the best 25 silent films of all time (excluding The Artist).
In the early days of
cinema, D.W Griffith made hundreds of films from shorts to features. He is
known for his important works such as The
Birth of a Nation, and undoubtedly, Griffith is a pioneer of cinema with
his use of camera and narrative techniques. Orphans
of the Storm is no masterpiece, but Griffith uses feature films to a
powerful extent with this film conveying a large story based on history, were
two characters simply get caught up in the moments.
Before you plow down my list, read this first. Although I have a page of my all time favourite films on here, I have not made an ordered list of my favourites in my entire time on the blog. I have wanted to explore more cinema before making a solid list, and even posting this one I think it'll be many more months and movies before I get a very solid list. My top five choices I love almost equally, but I chose a title that has very much influenced and interested me in cinema. I am yet to watch some of the acclaimed films floating in the world of film, but here is my list of favourites IN ORDER from what I have seen in my lifetime (which by now is about 900-1000 films). Please comment and give me feedback.
Among the great works of Buster Keaton Steamboat Bill Jr sits among his best, and is definitely up to par
with his famous The General. Once
more, we see Keaton effectively structuring a film with not only comedy- but
also a solid plot. The characters may not be deep as would Chaplin’s, but Keaton
has displayed his acting talent in a character that wins the audiences heart; not
to mention some of his great comedic work used. Overall, it is a fantastic
silent comedy and one of the greatest.
Wow it has been a year already! First things to say is thank you to all those who read and comment on my posts as if I did not get any form of feedback, I would have stopped after a while. I know I do it mainly for myself, but what's the point wasting hours on a blog no one reads? Well for this post, I am going to go through various statistics of my blog showing the amount of reviews I've written, genre totals, view count and more! Oh and a list of my favourite directors: A list that I have NEVER posted.
A while back I tried watching this and the copy had picture perfect
quality, but the subtitles were way off. So, the review of this film has been
delayed and now I have watched it properly. Battleship
Potemkin is among the best silent films, and today is known as one of the
greatest propaganda films of all time. The films striking visuals and largely
controversial (for the time) message sum up for a very exciting experience. The
film has a short runtime, but it's worth every minute.
I found out about this film through the 1001 Movies to see
before you die book (the film lovers bible), and I was quite impressed with the
story. We follow the average man through his life, who is no different from the
other millions among the people around him. The film tells a tale of how we,
being part of the crowd, can get lost among the crowd when something goes wrong
and we step out. The events that happen to our protagonist appear as tragic,
but he always strides forward which gives the film a feel-good finale.
Directed by: Charles Chaplin Genre: Comedy USA Black and White, 28 Minute
In one of Chaplin’s final short-reeler comedies, were he also does not play his tramp character. Except here, he is an employed worker. We get some
excellent gags out of this film that has a wonderful ending that just makes you
laugh at the stereotype we see (being a nagging wife).
This is a difficult film to watch and care about, but for
patient viewers, you will find this is a strangely paced and produced
documentary on witchcraft. In a time when the documentary genre was practically
not even a genre at all, we see fictional dramatisations of stories that is
read by the films narrator- that being the title cards. Even for today’s
audiences, I am sure some clips will be quite haunting and creepy as we see
many manifestations of the devil himself.
Directed by: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton Genre: Comedy USA Black and White, 20 Minutes
Among Buster Keaton’s short comedies, Cops is one of his most recognised and famous and with good reason.
The first half of Cops does not have
many splendid gags, but the second half greatly makes up for it. While not
being utter genius of comedy, Keaton displays pure athletic ability, daring
stunts of his own and simply hilarious comedy. At a runtime of 20 minutes, this
piece of silent comedy will impress you with the gags and stunts performed by
Carl Dreyer’s The
Passion of Joan of Arc today is revered for its filmmaking technique and
emotion conveyed. When watching the film, it is easy to see why. Joan of Arc is
still today a figure of female independence and an icon to women and France. In
the film, we have a compelling and emotionally effective performance from an
actress who would never make another film again. Dreyer’s slow pace and
constant use of close-ups of Joan crying seem quite repetitive, but certainly,
this is a standpoint of silent filmmaking.
Directed, Produced and Written by: Charles Chaplin Music Composed by Charles Chaplin Genre: Comedy USA Black and White, 119 Minutes In the 1950’s, Chaplin combined three of his short comedies
associated with his brother, Sydney and Edna Purviance, and re-composed their
soundtracks (and wonderfully). The three films being, A Dog’s Life, Shoulder Arms and The
Pilgrim are among his best short comedies and with the new scores composed
by him, they come to life once more. Seeing these three films in the gloriously
restored DVD edition make it worth watching for some of his finest gags that
still stand the test of time as hilarious.
Directed by: Robert J Flaherty Genre: Documentary USA, France Black and White, 79 Minutes When watching this film,
you see the documentary genre at an early stage before it became a format to
‘document’ events. As a silent documentary, you can be rest assured we still
see a fascinating account of things that remain interesting. I believe this is the first documentary ever to be made, if not it is certainly one of the first next to Haxan. The film follows a
family of Eskimo’s and how they survive in the blistering cold, and by the end
of the film, you will have some appreciation as to how they go around doing it.
Nanook of the North displays courage
and survival of an Eskimo family creating a today-fascinating documentary.
In this marathon, I am exploring a lot of silent comedy, and
with comedians like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, some of these films remain
very much funny and alive. Here, in Grandma’s
Boy, we see Harold Lloyd with some Charlie Chaplin influence in his first feature-length comedy. A heartfelt
story of a guy down on his luck, with great comedy. Grandma’s Boy may not be
outrageously funny or pure genius, but it has some funny gags and a sincere
plot that is not original, but very sweet.
Written and Directed by: Charles Chaplin Genre: Comedy USA Black and White, 29 Minutes
To start off my marathon, why not a silent comedy classic?
This film in particular, is where we first truly see Charlie Chaplin’s tramp
character come to life. Although the tramp appeared firstly in Kid Auto Race at Venice in 1914, here in
The Tramp (1915), the character has
developed, including mannerisms and movement. For a three-reeler comedy, this
one is surprisingly strong in it's story and it shows that Chaplin’s moving to
Essanay did him good. With great control, the film is wonderful to watch for
silent film veterans.
At last I came round to this film and, what a visually
spectacular film it is…a little too spectacular. As a huge animation fan, I was
blown away by this films quite real motion capture CGI, but while it looks
brilliant it is not what animation is about. Moving on, the film had an
excellent ensemble of voice actors alongside a great director being, Steven
Spielberg. The plot is fast paced, fun and could probably last for over 2
hours. It is a great film indeed, but the plot’s madness brings it down quite a
Written by: Michael Bacall,Patrick Hasburgh,Stephen J. Cannell, Jonah Hill
Genre: Comedy, Action
Colour, 109 Minutes
As a fan of the TV series that jump started (not a pun)
Johnny Depp’s career, I was curious to see this film when I heard of it back in
mid-2011. From various posters and the
films trailer, the film looked like it was going to feature some washed up
comedy and horrible clichés that kill the film. Well, the film definitely has
clichés, but as some critics have been saying, it isn’t all that bad. In fact,
the film actually had some excellent comedy making it surprisingly enjoyable; despite the mainstream label it has.
This month I have lessened the amount of posts at my blog
and I got quite slow with 4 day gaps at times. The reason is due to setting up
the new youtube channel for my filmmaking team, and starting to design motion
graphics again. Oh and school work. I have still been watching many films, and there are a few
reviews coming here soon. March has been another fun month for film and I have
not been watching any set kind of films. From The Birds to The Lorax, I
have just been watching all around me.
'Hello, Thomas here. I am a major film buff who loves nothing more than sitting back and watching a film. Here on my blog I dedicate to writing about contemporary and classic cinema with reviews, overviews and everything film. I hope you discover something new here. Thanks for reading!