Friday, February 8, 2008

Why I Like Silent Movies

Silent movies are an intriguing blend of art, culture and technology. Art often benefits from limitations. The technological limitations of the silent era encouraged exploration into subtle means of expression that are often overlooked in our faster paced and noisier society. To me, the effect often seems dreamy, contemplative and otherworldly. Of course, I'm referring to the finer accomplishments of the time. Only a minority of the artists and movie makers really excelled at their art form. Movies were a business then as they are today. Obviously, pleasing the masses and making money were high priorities. Still, I find that even the less accomplished productions provide a special type of insight into the time and people involved.

I sometimes lament that the silent era didn't last a few years longer. It took time to master the techniques of that art form. Towards the end, their were some excellent films being made. I would have enjoyed seeing how that art form would have progressed if it had more time to develop. Some actors were very good at expressing emotions with their facial expressions and body movements, since they were denied the more obvious method of using their voices. Silent movies also allow the accompanying music to come through with less distraction, an enjoyable feature for a music lover like me.

Well, that time is long past and won't return. That's fine. I have modern technology, like the Internet, to thank for allowing me to have unprecedented glimpses into the past. I'm far too young to have feelings of nostalgia for that time. Instead, it's an enjoyable place to visit. For me, part of the charm is to view the past with modern eyes.