Hello! If you watched the Oscars last night and decided to check out this whole silent movie rigamarole, welcome! Bien venue! If you’re a loyal reader and you’re just dying to know how the Pretty Clever Film Gal is celebrating… suffice it to say champagne gives her headache but she has struggled through to put it all in perspective. Read on! If you read the blog just disagree with me, boo-ya and word to your mama! Read the rest of this entry
Ye gods, people! There’s a lot of silent cinema interest and nostalgia floating around these days, thanks to Hugo and The Artists. Some of I agree with, some of it is silly, some of it is blatant coat-tail riding. But this piece from The Telegraph, “Too late, we realise that silence was golden in the cinema,” is the piece de resistance of all the talk. It is: 1. True and well said, 2. Quite beautiful in its implications, and 3. A total heart-breaker. Matthew Sweet gets my nomination for silent-cinema writer of the year.
Cinema has fallen in love again – with itself. The affair began in the spring at Cannes, when the science-fiction spectacular that opened the festival inspired a collective gasp of wonder. Up on the screen, a gaggle of explorers blasted off to an alien world of incomparable strangeness and beauty. Faces flickered in the stars. Rose-tinted rings glowed around Saturn. Bizarre crustaceoid monsters loomed. But the director, George Méliès, was not present to hear the cheers. He’s been dead since 1938. A Trip to the Moon was made in 1902. A silent movie, hand-painted, frame by frame, in the Paris of Dreyfus and Degas – a place quite as alien as anything it conjures on the screen. Read the rest here.
So I really didn’t want to get excited about Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. (I have Scorcese issues, don’t ask.) But the more I think about a film that features Georges Melies as a character, the more pumped I get. All other issues aside, I suppose one can always trust Scorsese to be sweet and lovely when it comes to film history. It seems to me everything the man does is a love letter to the medium, even when it’s not overt. At any rate, the reviews of Hugo are rolling in, and reading them makes me even more eager to get out to the cineplex and catch this one. If you need to build some delicious anticipation, check out the reviews below.
- “Scorsese’s Hugo Melds Modern Filmmaking with a Glorious Sense of the Past” at Movieline
- “Scorsese’s Hugo Pays Enchanting Homage to Movie Magic” at the Globe & Mail
- “5 Reasons to See Scorsese’s Hugo” at MTV.com
- “Hugo” at the Kansas City Star
- “Scorcese’s Love Letter to the Movies” at the Winnipeg Free Press
- Martin Scorsese on his first 3-D film on CBS News Online:
Yesterday Slate magazine ran a piece by Tom Shone titled “The Return of Silent Cinema.” As some one who cares, deeply, about silent cinema it certainly snagged my eye and heartened me. But the article is a bit deeper (and interesting) than noting that we’re in a culturally nostalgic moment based on The Artist and Scorsese’s iteration of George Melies in Hugo. I have yet to see The Artist, but I’ve read the reviews of people who have and I think I have an outline of how this film indulges in nostalgia and is not a modern iteration of a silent movie, but rather a love song to the classic form. And I haven’t see Hugo either, Scorsese – well, the man is a bottomless well of nostalgia for cinema of yesteryear.
So, does this moment that marks an obvious revival of interest in the silent era tell us something greater about ourselves and how we feel about the medium of cinema? Probably. “The Return of Silent Cinema” posits some thoughts. Agree or don’t, the idea that the summer blockbuster a la Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark was a previous return to some basic silent era precepts is an interesting and compelling notion. I will admit I had never thought of it quite like that. (Score! Guilt free enjoyment of Indy!) And to draw a parallel between our current moment in film technology and the earth rocking introduction of synchronized sound is also a compelling path of fault. As Slate puts it “go-motion, blue screen, green screen, CGI, motion capture, morphing, bullet time, digital compositing, virtual cinematography, 3-D, rotoscoping” might also alter our movie landscape in ways as profound as talkies. Mighn’t it?
I’m personally reserving specific judgement about the validity of these arguments because, as noted, I haven’t seen The Artist or Hugo. I’ve only experienced this alleged revival, this collective longing for a different era of visual storytelling, as a second-hand rumor. But I would love to hear from those of you who have seen the movies or feel provoked by Shone’s specific arguments. What do you think?