If you haven’t already been to the cinema to see ‘A Quiet Place’, you really ought to. Directed by John Krasinski (you’ll know him as Jim from the US Office) and starring Emily Blunt, the film has received praise for its originality and nerve-shredding suspense. The premise is this: Earth has been invaded by blind monster-stroke-aliens with excellent hearing – so good that they can practically hear a pin drop miles away. The characters have to remain utterly silent, communicating in sign language and the occasional whisper, whilst battling with deep-rooted family issues and a baby on the way. The result is a film that is very, very quiet (meaning I couldn’t eat the popcorn I’d bought in the cinema because everyone could hear me crunching).
It’s interesting that this film has become so popular for the novelty-factor of being predominantly silent – when if you go back 100 years, all our films were silent (or at least didn’t contain any synchronised recorded sound). Actors used mime and gestures to convey the plot-line, and a pianist or orchestra would accompany the film in the theatre. With the introduction of ‘talkies’ in the late 1920s, the era of silent film remained firmly in the past, until the hugely successful production of ‘The Artist’ in 2011. And now ‘A Quiet Place’: perhaps we are seeing a new-and-improved revival of the silent film.
If you fancy checking out some silent films, here’s a list of some of the most popular silent films ever made, that, conveniently, we have at the LRC:
- Nosferatu, F. W. Murnau (WISE)
A German estate agent and his wife are sent to Count Orlock’s castle in Transylvania, who wants to buy a house. Whilst at the castle, the estate agent notices strange occurrences and is plagued by a dark shadow hovering around him. Not to mention the fact that the count sleeps during the daytime in a crypt…
- Metropolis, Fritz Lang (Filton, Queen’s Road)
Set in a utopian future where everyone and everything is fine and dandy, Metropolis follows the discovery one Freder Fredeson makes of a group of workers who operate machinery underground to keep the utopian world above functioning.
- The Charlie Chaplin Collection (WISE)
Chaplin was one of the most popular figures in the era of silent film and his on-screen persona of ‘The Tramp’ remains a worldwide icon to this day. This collection contains ‘Tillie’s Punctured Romance’, ‘The Champion’ and ‘In the Park’, all of which are comedies.
- The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius (Filton, WISE)
In this modern production, a young woman meets the heartthrob who graces the screens of the silent film, George Valentin, outside a movie premiere. This encounter encourages her to audition for a dancing role in a ‘talkie’ for the same studio that Valentin is contracted at. However, Valentin is deeply scathing of the advent of ‘talkies’, and as her popularity increases, his goes downhill…
- Battleship Potemkin, Sergei M. Eisenstein (Filton)
A real-life story of a mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin that begins when the crew is served rotten meat for dinner.
- The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Robert Wiene (Queen’s Road)
Mysterious deaths occur after Francis and his friend visit a strange exhibit called ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ at a fair, featuring a hypnotist and a somnambulist who has slept for 23 years. Francis suspects the somnambulist is the murderer.
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