Die Nibelungen (Fritz Lang: 1924)

I just saw both parts of Die Nibelungen (1924) by Lang. Both films are amazing but I thought Siegfried’s Death (the first part) was better. The special effects where breathtaking (the slaying of the dragon was awesome) and the sets where on an epic level. It really reminded me in many ways of The Lord of the Rings (it’s almost as long too : – ) which made me wonder if Peter did looked at this before the made The LOTR trilogy.

I actually think this is much, much better than Metropolis (1927) and one of Lang’s best. Anyone else agree?


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Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade: 1915)

I just saw Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade: 1915). It is a 7 hour serial, similar to TV show today. The framing was rather dull and some of the plot solution where terrible. But there where also some nice ideas and I liked all the Bond like stuff the bad people used to kill and bluff. I actually think that the “vampires” where way more intelligent than the reporter and it looked like the police had an IQ below room temperature. The script was though often good. I would have loved to see a better director do something with it.

I thought Musidora was very good as Irma Vep but I could not sand Marcel Lévesque in the role of the sidekick Oscar Mazamette. He was constantly explaining (mimicking) to the audience what had just happened, thins that needed no explanation. His overacting can probably be blamed on the director.

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More silent

I saw these silent films some days ago.

Sparrows (William Beaudine: 1926). A wonderful films. Nicely paced, well written inter titles, funny and exciting. I also liked the theological issues and the fact that Jesus had black hair.

I’m not so sure how moral it was letting the children do these things around real alligators and Mary Pickford jumping and swinging with a real baby on her back. What where the parents thinking? But it sure was nerve racking. Probably one of the best films to get people interested in silent movies.

The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian: 1925). I bought the double disk Milestone collection that was supposed to have the best transfer. O, boy, was I disappointed. The 1929 restored version has motion blurs/ghosting that totally ruined the experience for me. Why go through all this work to make a first rate transfer and then fail on such a simple thing? It really made the film almost unwatchable. And why not use the better stock to recreate the 1925 version. They could have used the 16mm reduction print in scenes that are missing from the 1929 restored print. I should have bought the R2 version.

The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni: 1928). I really have to see this film again. It looked nice, had some excellent cinematography, nice acting and a beautiful set. But there was also something very unsettling about it. But still I really liked it and it is most likely a film that gets better after repeated viewing. I would have loved to see Lon Chaney in the main role and how that would have changed the film. But I still thought that Conrad Veidt was excellent.

The Mender of Nets (D.W. Griffith: 1912) and Wilful Peggy (D.W. Griffith: 1910) where extras on Sparrows. Two short films with Mary Pickford, directed by Griffith. Nothing to report about here. Nether film has aged well. They are mainly interesting historically.

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Valley of the Wolves: Iraq (Serdar Akar: 2006)

The main problem with this hotly debated Turkish film is not the one sited Anti-American propaganda, and not even the terrible acting. The script is the main turkey (pun intended). It is as badly written as Bush’s argument to go to war. The film has in fact much in common with the Bush propaganda. It shows no respect or understanding for other cultures, draws a picture of the enemy as the grand evil and preaches in the end that revenge is the only answer.

The film is sometime nicely filmed and the scene with the dance of the sheikh is just beautiful. The editing was also quite nice and the make up and special effects where convincing. But that alone does not salvage the film.

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Lon Chaney Collection (The Ace of Hearts – Laugh, Clown, Laugh – The Unknown, plus the documentary: Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces)

I just saw the Lon Chaney Collection (The Ace of Hearts – Laugh, Clown, Laugh – The Unknown, plus the documentary: Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces).

Well, I loved The Unknown. It is a true masterpiece. On of the best films I have ever seen.

I really liked the Ace of Hearts. Nice plot with some interesting shots and nice message. I just wish that they had tried to restore the film. It was in terrible shape.

I didn’t care so much for Laugh, Clown, Laugh. To much mellow drama and I don’t believe that anyone could encourage a relationship that is in fact based on incest (he raised her up as his daughter, so he was like her father, and the only parent she knew). And the psychological theories about laughing and crying because of love or lack of love was just silly.

The documentary was quite nice.

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Through a Glass Darkly – Winter Light & The Silence

I just saw Bergman’s Trilogy:
Through a Glass Darkly (6/10)
Winter Light (10/10)
The Silence (9/10)

The reason I don’t care much for Through a Glass Darkly is because: 1) It suffers from the same problem as The Seventh Seal and some other Bergman films; to much theatre, to little cinema. 2) It was to loosely structured for my taste. 3) It was way to preachy. Now I loved the message at the end but it was hammered in, and not much left for the audience.

The reason I loved Winter Light so much is because the cinematography is stunning, the acting superb and the script is tight. The biggest reason is though most likely the end. I love how open it is and I really agree with (what i think is) the conclusion (that we have to believe to live and that God is with us in our doubts, even though we don’t always see it).

I think Silence is in someways better than Winter Light. The cinematography is one of the greatest ever and I loved all the silent scenes in the film. Bergman tends to use to many words in his films. I always felt that he is strongest when he says less but shows more. The only problem with The Silence is that it is so terribly down beat and (almost) “pointless”. I felt that Bergman wanted to show the other side of Winter Light. What happens if we don’t believe. And the conclusion is horrifying. It feels almost like a horror film. There is no love anywhere, just lust, hatred, jealousy and egoism. It’s not that I demand happy endings but Winter Light has the edge because I’m a romantic at heart. 🙂

I think that the over all conclusion of the three films is: God appears in our love to one another. We have to believe to live, even though it is difficult and we don’t always see or feel Gods presence; otherwise we have no love to give, only jealousy, emptiness and SILENCE.

Well, that’s my thoughts. What’s yours?

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Burning Soil (1922) & City Girl (1930)

I saw two tonight (on a nightshift), both by F.W. Murnau.
The first one was Der Brennende Acker (1922) aka Burning Soil. It was made just before Nosferatu. I bought my copy at ebay (from bill2001). The picture quality was like something from a bad, old VHS tape, and it really made it difficult to watch the film (it is also only 78 min. long so it looks like some of the scenes are missing).

I loved the film, even in this bad condition. It is really the story of the prodigal son, mostly with out the father. The interpretation is actually quite interesting, but I can’t explain why with out giving away the end. So you just have to trust me on that one.

The film is quite dramatic and dark, even surprisingly dark at times. An superb film from one of the best directors of all time 8/10 (might even get a higher score with better transfer and in full length). Here’s hoping that this film will get the treatment it deserves.
The other Murnau film I saw was City Girl (1930). This film came as a complete surprise. What a masterpiece!!! It may very well be Murnau’s second best film (after Sunrise). It is extremely well made and the acting is superb. I can’t for the life of me understand why this film is not better known. And why it has not got the DVD treatment it deserves.

I bought my copy at ebay (from emoviez). The transfer is actually quite good, considering that this is a private seller. The music was how ever quite tiring and repetitive, most likely just put there to have something playing, for the ones that can’t stand the silence.

Murnau plays with some of the same motives as in Sunrise, but with a totally different approach. It is especially interesting to compare the City girl in Sunrise and the one in this film. I also wonder if he was not also dealing with his own past, but the father in the film really resembles what we know about Murnau’s own father.

A must see!!! 10/10

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