The Phantom Carriage (1921)

“There is an old, old carriage… It is no ordinary driver who holds the reigns, for he’s in the service of a strict master named Death.” ‘The Phantom Carriage’, directed by Victor Sjöström in 1921, is a Swedish silent horror movie starring the director as David Holm, a drunkard who when knocked unconscious on New…

Der letzte Mann (1924)

“Here he liberated the camera from gravity. There is a shot where the camera seems to float through the air, and it literally does; Freund had himself and the camera mounted on a swing, and Abel Gance borrowed the technique a few years later for his “Napoleon.” There are shots where superimposed images swim through…

Metropolis (1927)

“Today I will tell you the legend of THE TOWER OF BABEL… “Come, let us build us a tower whose top may reach unto the stars! And the top of the tower we will write the words: Great is the world and its Creator! And great is Man!” But the minds that had conceived the…

Arsenal (1929)

“To fully appreciate a film like ‘Arsenal’ nowadays, requires a considerable effort of will and historical perspective just in order to adjust one’s attention to its unusual rhythms, its heterogeneous nature and its truly peculiar “speech”. Otherwise, if we see it the way we watch any current release, we may not properly understand anything other…

Nanook of the North (1922)

“The film is not technically sophisticated; how could it be, with one camera, no lights, freezing cold, and everyone equally at the mercy of nature? But it has an authenticity that prevails over any complaints that some of the sequences were staged. If you stage a walrus hunt, it still involves hunting a walrus, and…

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

“His eyes are ghastly beads in which there is no light – like holes in a grinning skull! His face is like leprous parchment, yellow skin strung tight over protruding bones! His nose – there is no nose!” ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, directed by Rupert Julian in 1925, is an silent American horror movie…

Medieval Movies

There is an debate that divides historical movies into two camps. The first attempts to depict history without mediation, in essence films that try to access a past before cinema began to shape it  through genre. The second embraces this mediation by presenting the past as a series of genre tropes and iconography, the past…

Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

“The ‘honesty’ of documentary as compared with fiction film, the ‘perfection’ of the cinematic eye compared with human eye.” ‘Man with a Movie Camera’, directed by Dziga Vertov in 1929, is a Soviet experimental film that pushes the boundaries of how cinema was understood at the time. The film contains no plot, but, like ‘Koyaanisqatsi’…

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

“Praise be to Allah – the beneficent King – the Creator of the Universe – Lord of the Three Worlds!” ‘The Thief of Bagdad’, directed by Raoul Walsh in 1924, is a silent American historical adventure produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks. Fairbanks plays Ahmed, the titular thief, a man who lives selfishly by his…

Blackmail (1929)

“You and your Scotland Yard. If it weren’t for Edgar Wallace, nobody’d ever heard of it.” ‘Blackmail’, directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929, is a British thriller and one of the first British ‘talkies’. Alice White, played by Czech actress Anny Ondra, is the girlfriend on a police detective, Frank Webber, played by John Longden….

Steamboat Bill Jr (1928)

 “I’ll run on this river if I’m the only passenger on the boat.” ‘Steamboat Bill Jr’, directed by Charles Reisner in 1928, is a Buster Keaton comedy about a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ romance between the son of a failing paddle steamer captain and the daughter of a luxury riverboat owner. Keaton plays the son, William…

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

“Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. It is a land one can never tire of exploring. There is no greater experience in a studio than to witness the expression of a sensitive face under the mysterious power of inspiration. To see it animated from inside, and turning into poetry.” ‘The…