It’s always a fun day when I notice a new post at John Bengtson’s completely awesome Silent Locations. And after seeing Buster and Fatty in the high-larious “Backstage” last night at the 1000 Laffs: Playmates screening at Toronto Silent Film Festival, reading about this Keaton location is like a cherry on my sundae!
Metropolis premiered in Berlin on January 10, 1927. As all good silent movie devotees know, the film was then tinkered with, re-edited, and god knows what before it received wider distribution. Hard to know now.
Mordaunt Hall, film reviewer for The New York Times, gave that revised version a less than glowing treatment, calling Metropolis a “technical marvel” with “feet of clay.” Read the original review here. Maybe he was just bitter cause his mom named him Mordaunt?
It’s been fun to spectate all of this renewed interest in the medium of silent film. Just as the interest has shined a light into the flickering-shadow filled caves of film nerds, it has also served as an invitation for rampant film snobbery. And hey, I enjoy all these articles and blips and clips that imply fans of silent films are smarter, better-looking, and generally more successful. It’s all very affirming. But there has also been a lot of wild opinionating about how Hollywood can finally be saved from the horrors of CGI and how the intellectual pursuit of silent film viewing can finally be presented to the teeming hordes. At times, even to a die-hard, it gets a little distasteful and more than a little silly.
Case in point… this interview with Bryony Dixon on the BBC. She’s a silent film expert, you see. And she’s here to tell us that silent films are “more rewarding,” that viewers must “work harder” to enjoy them, and that they require “greater concentration.” That just sucks all the fun out the room, doesn’t it. It’s hard to know where to start in teasing apart this expert mess, but fortunately Nick Redfern at Resarch Into Film sets the ball rolling with his excellent post, “Opinion or Fact?” Check out the post, read Mr. Redfern’s post, and jump into the fray with your own expert opinion.