How I Learned To Love “Intolerance” (And So Can You!)

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It’s massive, it’s epic, it’s stuffed with stars and just about drips with drama. It was one of the biggest spectacles the world had ever seen, and its scale is still awe-inspiring. It fired the imaginations of directors and left audiences reeling. And it’s…somewhat liked by silent film fans today. Somewhat.

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“It’s so long.

Okay, I’ll admit that this weak enthusiasm is understandable. Intolerance is kind of the equivalent of Norma Desmond’s Isotta-Fraschini automobile–in its day it was the last word in decadence, but decades later it seemed like a cumbersome and overly-ornate relic. Intolerance demands your full attention to not only one but four storylines, often with multiple characters with different actions and motivations. It’s uneven. It tackles Serious Subjects like war and injustice toward the working man. And yes, it’s very long. Continue reading

Learning To Love The Keystone Film Company

Greetings and welcome to…KEYSTONE MONTH!! (There are simply not enough exclamation points.) Let’s get this extended tribute to the comedy company started with some background and historic context (two of my favorite things!). 

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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Movie Star Biographies

Note: This article focuses specifically on biographies about silent film personalities, rather than their autobiographies–which in some ways are a whole ‘nother ballgame.

Every film fan wants to find out more about their favorite silent film stars or even directors. I know I always do, even though I always run the risk of dashing all my rosy preconceptions (“so in real life that sweet dimpled actress was actually a thrice-married drug smuggling blackmailer who drank a quart of whiskey a day and ran a dog fighting ring? DANG it!”). However, this hasn’t stopped me from devouring as much information as possible about my favorites. During this process it became clear to me: Think Before You Read.

Being attacked by a mutant doll is the least of your worries.

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Getting Into Silent Films–Where To Begin?

So you’re completely new to silent films.  The list on Netflix is daunting–where to begin?  Should you go with a polite melodrama from the ’10s?  A college comedy from the ’20s?  Throw the concept of “easing into it” to the wind and dive into a marathon session of La Roue?  Cuddle up on the couch with some cookie dough and Battleship Potemkin? Continue reading

How To Watch a Silent Film (If You’ve Never Seen One)

So there you are, a 21st-century movie watcher, buzzed up on Monster and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and you take a break from watching your CGI-stuffed Michael Bay blowout sequel while listening to K-Pop on your iPodPhonePad amidst an online gaming marathon to go watch some old movies.  Really old movies.  Maybe you’re looking for something new and challenging.  Maybe you’re just curious.  Or maybe you have a hipster-ish desire to go beyond the mainstream (waaaaay beyond the mainstream).  Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to step outside your comfort zone and check out some 1910s and ’20s silent films–for the first time ever! Continue reading