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Good viewing for film historians

Author: jrd_73 from United States
28 May 2016

Although an interesting documentary, "Opportunity Lost" does not grab me as much as the previous entries. I think there are two reasons for this, one personal and the other historical. The personal reason is that I just prefer French and German (as well as Italian and Russian) cinemas to British. In fact, the only film featured in this episode that I have seen is Hitchock's The Lodger. A more objective reason is that unlike Swedish, German, and French silent cinemas, British cinema went into a lull after the first world war. It had a strong early presence, but as the films became longer, a sense of snobbery combined with a lack of craftsmanship hurt the film industry. An example of this is the 1913 adaptation of Hamlet where the cameraman loses Hamlet in the frame, searches for the actor, and just gives up. No wonder British cinema of the period failed to make waves overseas.

However, British cinema did improve in the second half of the twenties, just before the coming of sound. Cottage on Dartmoor, The Ghost Train, and Underground, all look like good movies. Going back to 1913, the mean-spirited, anti-suffragette "Milling the Militants" is intriguing from a historical perspective.

Speaking of which, "Opportunity Lost" is most impressive as a historical documentary. One does not finish a viewing with an exuberant urge to watch these films the way one does with some of the other episodes. In fact, some (I for one) might complain about the inclusion of British silent cinema at the exclusion of Italian and (especially) Russian silent cinemas. Regardless, as education, as a spotlight shone on a section of film history, "Opportunity Lost" deserves to be seen by all film lovers.

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Probably the most surprising of the shows...

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
21 August 2011

Up until this fifth episode of "Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood", I was surprised that I had already seen about 90% of the films discussed in this series on mostly silent European films. However, something strange happened in this one on the British film industry. The majority of the films were completely unknown to me. It turned out, to my surprise, that the British films of the silent era (particularly the middle period) were few in number and are regarded as, at best, second-rate films. I'd never thought about why I'd never seen that many British silents. It turns out there just aren't that many and few were deemed worth preserving. It is only in the later silent era that the industry began to take off--though its output never came close to rivaling the French or Germans until after sound came into vogue.

This episode had more interviews and archival footage of the then elderly film makers looking back at their work--and so this episode had a nice look and feel to it. Sure, it had the Kenneth Branagh narration and the film clips--but it improved with many early film actors and directors giving their insights. Well worth seeing and interesting--and you understand where the phrase "opportunity lost" came from in the title.

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