Pushing Boundaries

Silence of the Films


Once moving pictures could be recorded on film the industry grew quite rapidly. From the first motion picture c. 1890 to the 1920s, these films went from run times measured in seconds to ones measured in hours. The art went from filming guys walking out of a factory at the end of their work day to actual scripted and acted stories. The initial celluloid film, which was quite flammable and led to many movie house fires, was soon replaced with plastic-based film that was less prone to catching fire from the heat of the projector lamp or a movie operator’s cigar. At first, the only soundtrack was the clicking of the projector wheels. Soon, theaters hired pianists, organists or, in large urban areas, an entire orchestra to provide mood music. Soon, the producers were drafting sheet music to go with the movie so that moviegoers in Iowa City had the same movie experience as moviegoers in NYC. The industry as a whole really came alive. Even though Europe’s movie industry, which was the crown jewel of the industry, suffered a major setback due to a little world war during the 1910s, it came roaring back and was made stronger by a burgeoning film industry in an upstart town called Hollywood.

In some way, the simplicity of the silent film, and the talent that was required to convey emotion without words is refreshing in our CGI-obsessed world.

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79i84xYelZI[/youtube]

[Image Credit: Public Domain]

  • CaptianNemo2001

    The Penalty (1920) is a silent film that I really like. Dark moody and very well made. To put it simply it is a gangster movie that is on a whole nether level that later films just don't capture. There is too much flash in the newer films and this one keeps the gritty atmosphere going. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Penalty_%28film%

    <img src="http://avyaya.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/hitler-vs-chaplin.jpg?w=550&h=325&quot; width="600">

  • Wolfie

    Love the clip,great acting
    But it brings to mind locking majestic jungle animals
    In small prisons for our entertainment.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      It is an interesting point.

      I heard the something being mentioned at a drag race's by the pit crews. Most of whom, are volunteers and are not paid to work on the cars but do so because it is fun yet the fans all crowed around like they are caged.

      • Wolfie

        I visited the coliseum in Rome
        People paid to watch Christians thrown to Lions..
        Sometimes people make cages for themselves
        Without realizing until Later.

  • The highly combustible film stock was also called Nitrate Film, as it was made of nitrocellulose. "Celluloid" is the commercial name.

    Celluloid was developed as a replacement for ivory in billiard balls, though wikipikidiki notes there are no confirmed reports of billiard balls bursting into flame.

    According to at least one reliable source; "Celluloid heroes never feel any pain / And celluloid heroes never really die."

    • OA5599

      Nitrate film contains its own supply of oxygen, too, so once it ignites it is very hard to extinguish. It will burn underwater.

      Vintage projection rooms were built to be fireproof, with a metal shutter poised to seal the window during a fire. There was no hope to save the projector or film, the plan was to contain the fire unil it burned itself out, and spare the people and the rest of the building.

  • Felis_Concolor

    There are 2 Disneys when it comes to animation. There are the incredible nonverbal storytellers whose work can be seen in Lorenzo, Paperman, the first half of Wall-E and the opening scenes of Up – and then there are the spell-it-out, hold-your-hand and dumb-it-down teams which create the rest of the stuff.

    I want to see the nonverbal teams given a feature length animation assignment: I know it can work; I know it can be great; I know audiences will enjoy it

    • CaptianNemo2001

      Now, now, now lets not be too hasty. Its the sequel crap that is the dumb it down versions. Cinderella 2 and 3. The 101 Dalmatians add-ons. The Beauty and the Beat add-ons although the Christmas one was slightly good. The ONLY good animated (traditional) Disney sequel I can think of is the Rescuers Down Under.

      You sound like you are talking more about Pixar then Disney. The Walt Disney Company bought Pixar in 2006, Toy Story (1995). It was followed by A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004) all came before the Disney buy out. Although even after the buy out Pixar still has a wide degree of independence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixar