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Melody of the World More at IMDbPro »Melodie der Welt (original title)

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4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

George Bernard Shaw is wrong again.

6/10
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
7 October 2005

'Melody of the World' is one of the very first German sound films. Although this film was produced more than a year after 'The Jazz Singer' (which isn't really the *first* talkie, but let it pass), 'Melody of the World' seems to be firmly convinced of its own importance as the *first* talking picture, or at any rate the first one seen and heard by German audiences.

We first hear the blast of a steam whistle as an ocean liner pulls out of Hamburg's harbour. A breathless narrator excitedly tells us that we're embarking on a voyage round the world, and we will be witnessing sights and sounds from many nations.

From here, the film is a melange of travelogue clips. People of diverse nationalities offer bland good-will messages directly to the camera; these are intercut with wildlife scenes from exotic climes. I suppose that the opportunity to see these things -- and, even more so, to *hear* them -- was exciting for cinema audiences in 1929.

Near the end of this film, we are treated to a rather static conversation between George Bernard Shaw and English film director Ivor Montague. Their discussion is self-conscious and stilted, with neither man displaying much screen presence. In dialogue that sounds suspiciously rehearsed, the two men agree that this wondrous new invention, the talking picture, will dissolve boundaries between nations and between people. I found this wishful thinking to be more than slightly ironic. In the days of *silent* film, movies were praised as a universal visual language that had no national barriers. It was only with the arrival of sound recording -- when each movie had to acquire its native tongue -- that films ceased to be universal.

Most of the photography in 'Melodie der Welt' is clumsy even by 1929 standards, but this is likely down to the unwieldy sound-recording equipment that was necessary at that time. More for its historical significance than for its entertainment value, I'll rate this movie 6 out of 10.

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