The Movie that Got Me Hooked on Silent Cinema

There is something about silent movies which captivates me. Though they lack the intense and highly impressive computer-generated graphics that many contemporary movies have come to rely upon, I think these movies possess a timeless stylishness which modern cinema simply cannot duplicate. These movies are from a unique transitory time in the history of cinema in which the link between movie and theater were not completely severed. The acting, therefore, is a unique blend of styles. We have the theatrical, grand movements of the stage and the birth of the more life-like acting to which we have now grown accustomed.

Die Nibelungen saga is thus my favorite set of movies from this era. It’s aesthetically arresting with its accentuating makeup and flamboyant coifs. It’s stylish with its big screen take on the mythological Nibelungen saga, portraying these stories in a perennially fascinating new light. It’s dramatic, grandiose movements of the stage transitioning seamlessly to the medium of “moving pictures.” There are many great silent movies like this, but Die Nibelungen captures for me all the great things about this cinematic genre.

I love movies and I love the theatre. Anyone who has studied acting, however, will tell you that these two artistic genres require different acting styles. And that is what is so great about silent films, Die Nibelungen in particular! You get the best of both worlds–the stage and the big screen–mixed into this one great whole. And this brings me to my next point: many people today dislike these silent masterpieces. They simply cannot relate to them, find them anachronistic, and just flatout boring. While tastes have changed (for the worse, I think), I think that much of this dislike is based upon a misunderstanding of what silent movies are. Therefore, if you are thinking of getting into silent cinema I want to give you a piece of advice (aside from start with Die Nibelungen of course!): imagine you are watching a play. Watching a play and watching a movie are quite different experiences, and many people today sit down to watch a silent movie with the expectation that it will be like a modern film. This is incorrect. Imagine you have sat down to watch a play in the theater. This will put you in the proper state of mind and will help you better enjoy what you are watching!

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