In 1938 Austria shortly after the Nazi occupation, a prominent Viennese intellectual, Werner von Basil, is arrested for smuggling art treatures out of the country and imprisoned by the ... See full summary »
The lives of numerous people over the course of 20 years in 19th century France, weaved together by the story of an ex-convict named Jean Valjean on the run from an obsessive police inspector, who pursues him for only a minor offense.
King Louis XI tries to unify France by all means fair or foul, which does not please his powerful rival Charles the Bold. It is against this troubled backdrop that the loves of the daughter... See full summary »
In the Crimea, the Reds and the Whites aren't done fighting, and Jeanne discovers that the man she loves is a Bolshevik (when he kills her father). Penniless, she returns to Paris where she... See full summary »
A group of German infantrymen of the First World War live out their lives in the trenches of France. They find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily ... See full summary »
Allan has a hard time finding the Usher's house, which is known to be cursed... But he is a personal friend of Roderick Usher, who lives with his sick wife Madeline and a doctor. Roderick ... See full summary »
Middle-aged chambermaid Hélène's newfound obsession with the game of chess leads her to seek the tutelage of a reclusive American expat, transforming both of their ho-hum lives in the ... See full summary »
Divided into two parts, the first half is okay, if generally unremarkable. It concerns a group of Polish people rebelling against the Russians, who are dominating them. The second half is mostly painful to sit through. The leader of the Polish rebels, Boleslas (Pierre Blanchar), is disguised as an undefeatable robotic chess player, designed by Baron von Kempelen (Charles Dullin), who is famous for his automatons. When the automaton faces the Empress of Russia, Catherine II, she cheats to see what her opponent will do. He responds by swiping the pieces off the chess board. The Empress finds it amusing, but orders the automaton to be shot. The film is way overlong (imdb lists under 90 minutes, but the Milestone DVD runs 139), and the story and themes are convoluted. Like a lot of overambitious silent films, its far too many characters are easy to confuse. I was quite bored through the film. There were several great moments, though. The battle scenes in the first half are exceptional. Bernard uses some sort of handheld camera to make it seem like the viewer is in the battle. It's a common technique nowadays, but I can't recall seeing it earlier than 1927. This has to be at least one of the first times when this was done. The cinematography is generally good, and often great, especially in the first half. Although the second half is hard to sit through, there is an extended sequence where one character is caught in the middle of a group of Baron von Kempelen's automaton soldiers. I didn't even really know who this character was exactly, but it was a neat scene.
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