Sunday, October 16, 2005

Enjoy The Silence

Slightly sick, I've been watching films all weekend. These include, my first-ever viewings of any full-length silent film, not counting the excerpts in my 'Slapstick Encyclopedia' DVD collection. My logical starting point was Buster Keaton (pictured left, in center) in "Our Hospitality" and Charlie Chaplin (pictured below) in "The Gold Rush." And... they're highly entertaining. I enjoy the slightly exaggerated body language that takes the place of spoken dialogue. But most of all, it's fascinating to see moving images of the period 1900-1930 for the first time. Life looks modern, with cars, telephones, factories, electricity, but it's the very beginning of modern.

For example, cars look rickety, like they'd just been invented and we were still getting used to them. The Los Angeles area, where many classics were filmed, looks like a small town, almost rural... Finally, the films seem less Hollywood - romance is buffoonery, characters seem broad, flat, 'types', rather than individuals to live through vicariously. The music is positively grand, as my Aunt Lena would say (and she probably saw these movies, accompanied by a local pianist, in the theaters of Lowell, Mass as a young girl).

I hope to continue my exploration of this era, perhaps seeing one silent film out of every five I order from Netflix for a while... And lately, I've been barrelling through five films a week.

But now I'm off to shower and meet my friend Peter for an 11:15 showing of 'Loggerheads', about an evangelical couple whose adopted son turned out to be gay.

Enjoy the day.

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