It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom ... See full summary »
Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
A popular director recruits a new actress to work for his Movie. The popularity of the movie spills over to the already strained relationship between the Director and his in-law leading to ... See full summary »
In post-war Japan, a man brings a lost boy to his tenement. No one wants to take the child for even one night; finally, a sour widow, Tané, does. The next day, complaining, she takes the ... See full summary »
When Viktor meets Gizella one day beside the lake, he takes an interest in her and begins to call on her regularly. The one passion in the life of Gizella, who is unable to speak, is ... See full summary »
Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (whom Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Gabriel de Gravone
At 10 years old, Owens becomes a ragged orphan when his sainted mother dies. The Conways, who are next door neighbors, take Owen in, but the constant drinking by Jim soon puts Owen on the ... See full summary »
Anna Q. Nilsson,
An isolated house in deserted area is too remote for a servant, who leaves a note, quietly exits the back door, and puts the key under the mat. Alone in the house is a mother and her infant... See full summary »
This film, directed by Benjamin Christensen is regarded by many who have seen it as one of the greatest directorial debuts in cinema history. The Museum of Modern Art in New York houses a print of the film, without subtitles which makes it hard to follow at times, and not even a title or credits sequence, if the film ever had one. Two years ago, MOMA had a wonderful tribute to Christensen in which they screened all of his surviving films. This one is one of his two or three most important and one has to keep reminding his or herself that this is his FIRST film at a time when motion pictures were not even twenty years old!
Christensen is credited with being the first filmmaker to consciously shoot into direct light, creating silhouettes and magnificent compositions. He doesn't waste any time in this film, dazzling the audience with (at the time) very complicated lighting set-ups involving sunsets and characters lighting up a lamp in a rooms of darkness. Indeed this film was made two years before "Birth of a Nation" and artistically is just as good as that film and in some ways better.
It would be hard to assess if Christensen was the first to achieve the great things he accomplished since so much early cinema is lost, but there is no doubt that he had a mastery of lighting and composition, and for such an early filmmaker it is truly astounding. Very few of his films are available to the public, but the few that are findable (Mockery, Seven Footprints to Satan, and Witchcraft Through the Ages) are all cinematically interesting and at times downright fascinating.
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