The Silent Era
Black & white movies
Use of signs to follow the plot.
First film stars
Sound Problem: Synchronized dialogue.
Amplification (recording and playing)
Use of external music source.
Use of theatrical techniques:
Simple story lines, because of the sound.
Use of wide camera shots.
The birth of a Nation (1915)
The mother and the Law
Charles Chaplin (1889-1977)
Actor, director & composer
Movies of silent era:
The gold Rush
Movies of talkie era:
The great dictator (1940)
Buster Keaton (1895-1966)
Actor, filmmaker, producer and writer.
The birth of a nation (D.W.Griffith - 1916)
The Civil War divides friends and destroys families, but that's nothing compared to the anarchy in the black-ruled South after the war. The film chronicles the relationship of two families in Civil War and Reconstruction-era America: the pro-Union Northern Stonemans and the pro-Confederacy Southern Camerons over the course of several years. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth is dramatized.The film was a commercial success, but was highly controversial owing to its portrayal of African-American men (played by white actors in blackface) as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women, and the portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan (whose original founding is dramatized) as a heroic force.
Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Einstein - 1925)
It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers of the Tsarist regime.The film is composed of five episodes:
"Men and Maggots" (Люди и черви), in which the sailors protest at having to eat rotten meat;
"Drama on the Deck" (Драма на тендре), in which the sailors mutiny and their leader, Vakulinchuk, is killed;
"A Dead Man Calls for Justice" (Мёртвый взывает) in which Vakulinchuk's body is mourned over by the people of Odessa;
"The Odessa Staircase" (Одесская лестница), in which Tsarist soldiers massacre the Odessans.
"The Rendez-Vous with the Squadron" (Встреча с эскадрой), in which the squadron tasked with intercepting the Potemkin instead declines to engage; lowering their guns, its sailors cheer on the rebellious battleship and join the mutiny.
Metropolis (Fritz Lang - 1927)
Sometime in the future, the city of Metropolis is home to a Utopian society where its wealthy residents live a carefree life. One of those is Freder Fredersen. One day, he spots a beautiful woman with a group of children, she and the children who quickly disappear. Trying to follow her, he, oblivious to such, is horrified to find an underground world of workers, apparently who run the machinery which keeps the above ground Utopian world functioning. One of the few people above ground who knows about the world below is Freder's father, Joh Fredersen, who is the founder and master of Metropolis. Freder learns that the woman is Maria, who espouses the need to join the "hands" - the workers - to the "head" - those in power above - by a mediator or the "heart". Freder wants to help the plight of the workers in the want for a better life. But when Joh learns of what Maria is espousing and that Freder is joining their cause, Joh, with the assistance of an old colleague and now nemesis named Rotwang, an inventor, works toward quashing a supposed uprising, with Maria as the center of their plan. However, Joh is unaware that Rotwang has his own agenda. But if any of these plans includes the shut down of the machines, total anarchy could break loose both above ground and below.
Intolerance (D.W.Griffith - 1916)
The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history. The three-and-a-half hour epic intercuts four parallel storylines, each separated by several centuries:
A contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption;
a Judean story: Christ’s mission and death;
a French story: the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572;
a Babylonian story: the fall of the Babylonian Empire to Persia in 539 BC.
Each story had its own tint in the original print. The scenes are linked by shots of a figure representing Eternal Motherhood, rocking a cradle.
The Gold Rush (Chaplin - 1925)
The Gold Rush is a 1925 silent film comedy written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin in his Little Tramp role.
The Tramp goes the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.
The "roll dance" the tramp character performs in the film is considered one of the most memorable scenes in film history, although Roscoe Arbuckle did something similar in the 1917 movie The Rough House which co-starred Buster Keaton
The General (Keaton - 1926)
Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnnie must rescue both his loves.
Nosferatu (Murnau - 1922)
Wisbourg, Germany based estate agent Knock dispatches his associate, Hutter, to Count Orlok's castle in Transylvania as the Count wants to purchase a isolated house in Wisbourg. They plan on selling him the one across the way from Hutter's own home. Hutter leaves his innocent wife, Ellen, with some friends while he is away. Hutter's trek is an unusual one, with many locals not wanting to take him near the castle where strange events have been occurring. Once at the castle, Hutter does manage to sell the Count the house, but he also notices and feels unusual occurrences, primarily feeling like there is a dark shadow hanging over him, even in the daytime when the Count is unusually asleep. Hutter eventually sees the Count's sleeping chamber in a crypt, and based on a book he has recently read, believes the Count is really a vampire or Nosferatu. While Hutter is trapped in the castle, the Count, hiding in a shipment of coffins, makes his way to Wisbourg, causing death along his way