100 Silent Films Review

Author: Bryony Dixon

Continuing this BFI series, Bryony Dixon compiles a list of 100 silent films tof interest to anyone who’s a fan of this era of cinema.

Spanning from the time of the late 1800s with Lumiere, but concentrating mainly on the 1900–1930s heyday of silent cinema, the book does go so far as to look at a modern silent, Guy Maddin’s  2000 feature The Heart Of The World.

Dixon essays the era in her introduction – talking up (if there is an irony there) the flicks suggesting that they are perhaps “marooned in history.” She also looks at the running time of the very early pictures and marches through time observing that they eventually got bigger and became longer. So anyone on the lookout for a Giffith or Pabst won’t be disappointed. It isn’t  star specific (although a book like this can easily find time for Charlie Chaplin and Louise Brooks); it’s more a list of construct than popularity.

The book spends a couple of pages on each film, delving as deep as it can into the importance of the film and its narrative. Although it may have been handy to look closer at the running times of some of the films as many have various running lengths (Metropolis is an obvious offender there).

Still this is another handy book to have with a chosen and wise view on a type of film that’s now all but dead. The more words that are printed about them then the more certain they are to have a voice speaking for them.

Steven Hurst

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