A man whose wife has died remarries, and his new wife has a daughter of her own from a previous marriage. The man's young son, however, who loved his mother deeply and misses her terribly, ... See full summary »
Joe May's sensual drama of life in the Berlin underworld is in many ways the perfect summation of German filmmaking in the silent era: a dazzling visual style, a psychological approach to ... See full summary »
After accidentally killing the man who raped her and forced her into prostitution, a New Orleans woman flees to a Caribbean island. While she awaits her fiancé, the vicious local police chief sets his sights on her.
William A. Wellman
A historical view of witchcraft in seven parts and a variety of styles. First, there is a slide-show alternating inter-titles with drawings and paintings to illustrate the behavior of pagan... See full summary »
There's one thing to note here, the old man's subjective experience of the courtroom where he's on trial, and later on the nightmare where it is more vividly relived; figures are unnaturally large or small, blacks and whites are inverted, and the judges storm from their pedestals across the room in thunderous slow-motion. It's an arresting sequence of internal anxieties.
So even though the film has been jotted down in film history as realist
the Parisian marketplace bustling with activity, the sellers pushing
their carts down cobble-streets - it is this, impressionist we call it now, inversed look of objective reality from inside the mirror that strikes some spark now.
But compared to what more renowned French filmmakers - Gance, Epstein, L'Herbier - were attempting at the time or were gearing to, it leaves something to be desired. Example: the state prosecutor, whose court rhetorics intimidate the simple old man, is envisioned as gigantic; but Feyder frames him in a full shot that makes the court appear miniscule and the prosecutor normal, which is clearly not what was intended from what the intertitle lets us gather.
So it is all a bit improvised for effect, in an effort, that was taken up in France at the time, to distend cinema from the theatrical point-of-view foisted upon it by the earlier generation of filmmakers.
The moral of the story is actually more interesting; it is not the rigid, surreal system of law and justice that tears the individual, this anomy is endured with quiet, baffled dignity and some measure of ritual fatalism, but the society that bestows a final respect on the word of this system; a collective whole which Feyder reveals to be thoroughly hypocritical, petty, small-minded, and ultimately heartless.
So it is not surprsing that the guardian angel turns out to be a kid; not yet swallowed in this collective cruelty, a person who can see from the heart.
Other than that, there are some lovely evening atmospheres that you may want to see; empty streets lined up with lights, a bridge across an expanse of water. It's all painterly, quite evocative of a sense of place.
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