A scene from The Bells (1926) is optically reprinted and edited to Michael Gordon¹s 7 minute composition. A meditation on the fleeting nature of life and love, as seen through the roiling emulsion of an film.
Mathias, an Alsatian innkeeper, murders a rich Pole staying at his inn But Mathias' conscience will not let him rest, and the murdered man's spirit drives the innkeeper nearly mad. The victim's brother calls for an inquest and brings with him a sideshow mesmerist supposedly able to read minds. Mathias, as burgomaster, is called upon to conduct the inquest, but under the intuitive eye of the mesmerist cannot resist torment of his own conscience. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Immediate inspiration for the Sept. 1926 film seems to have been the April 1926 New York stage adaptation (one of many). On Broadway that April, director Rollo Lloyd also acted the lead role of Mathias (played by Lionel Barrymore's in the film) and Edward Loeffler played the mesmerist (Boris Karloff in the film). J.M. Kerrigan (later seen in a number of John Ford films) on Broadway '26 played Father Walter. See more »
My objection to this is not with the story itself, but with the absolute paucity of imagination involved in converting this from play to film.
You can easily count the cinematic moments - the bloody hands, the filter color changes to denote Barrymore's state of mind, the ghostly split-screen compositions...they seem to distract from the 'play' more than they amplify any notions that this is supposed to be a movie. The ideas are not worth studying or seeking out.
I don't give this my lowest rating, which I reserve for those movies that offend in some way. At worst, this is ineffectual.
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