24 April 2012 7:18 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Funny faces to lost gems, war horses to strange censorship, silent film is a wondrous way to immerse oneself in history

A trip to the British silent film festival is a unique opportunity to wallow in some unfamiliar waters. Four days immersed in silent cinema is time spent in the company of many films that have been forgotten or misremembered, films that have only been seen before by archivists and researchers, and that may never get a public airing again. Some of these films are great, but even those that aren't are fascinating, as cinema history, and as a glimpse of what it was like to live in Britain 100 years ago.

1. "They didn't need dialogue, they had faces"

We're all familiar with Gloria Swanson's famous line in Sunset Boulevard, but she was talking about the blandly beautiful people of Hollywood. The faces of British silent cinema may not be attached to famous names, »

- Pamela Hutchinson

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