Recently I have been re-indulging in silent films, such is my desire to get into a little bit of everything and as usual I have been agog at how the simplest of situations can be turned into something really clever and still visually stunning. Today’s post then is more heavily accented on the visual than usual.
Part of the charm that these films have, apart from crossing language boundaries and being universally accessible in any era, is their inventive nature. With such constraints in place as there were in the technology, there was a need to innovate to capture the viewer, especially people of today who are spoilt with all their HD, 3D Ultra sharp coloured up special FX.
It’s art in its purest form, the whole body portrayed in dramatic terms to convey to the watcher what the character is experiencing. Which is reminiscent of the actors in Greek plays who wore masks and would manipulate their voices and bodies in order to bring their message to the crowds watching. Constraints always bring innovation and these days physicality is less important in films but perhaps it should be an inspiration to build on.
The popularity of the medium naturally stems from the reliance on visuals and by excluding much in the way of explanation or overly complex story everybody can pick up on the themes and jokes and enjoy them. Take Mr Bean for example which has been sold to 245 territories (according to Wikipedia) which shows that the art of the visual is still extremely popular and is well worth taking the time to watch.
The influences of silent films still appear all around today, take George Méliès film A Trip to the Moon, which has been referenced in many places including Futurama, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a sublime book for all ages and also one of my favourite music videos of all time Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins.