"The Story of Film: An Odyssey" The Hollywood Dream (TV Episode 2011) Poster

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The Hollywood Dream
gavin694231 May 2013
Episode two features the 1920s, what the narrator calls "the greatest decade in the story of film". Here we have the rise of Paramount, Warner Brothers and MGM. We have sound stages for better control of light. And we have each studio with its own feel and style -- Warner Brothers, for example, stood out as more "streetwise", with stars that were "angels with dirty faces".

Most notably, the 1920s brought the best innovation in comedy -- the trio of silent comedy legends: Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin and (the often neglected) Harold Lloyd. Keaton "defined silent cinema" and "thought like an architect". He was probably the best director working in comedy at the time -- maybe ever.

Chaplin was less into the camera, but more into body movement. He "though like a dancer". I did not realize the connection between Chaplin and Billy Wilder, who had homages in both "Sunset Boulevard" and "Some Like It Hot". While the "Sunset" homage is obvious, the other is not.

Most interesting in this episode, though, is the focus on Carl Dreyer, who experimented with simplicity, whiteness... and was later influential on Lars von Trier's "Dogville". He may not be as famous as the comedy giants, but that makes him no less important to the history of film. I am now inspired to watch the Dreyer films I have not yet seen...
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Another Good Episode
Michael_Elliott3 January 2013
The Story of Film: An Odyssey 'The Hollywood Dream' (2011)

*** (out of 4)

The second film in Mark Cousins' series takes a look at another wide range of topics including new techniques including lighting as well as some of the silent comedy legends like Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd. As with the first film, this one here jumps around quite a bit and I must admit that I'm not totally sure about the style of the series and especially since it's not telling any story in a certain way. Again, this episode is supposed to cover 1918-1928 but it jumps to other decades and other films to help show certain topics that eventually come up. This includes the famous desks sequence in THE CROWD and how both Orson Welles and Billy Wilder changed this somewhat for their films THE TRIAL and THE APARTMENT. We also get a brief rundown on the career and madness of Erich von Stroheim and the issues surrounding his film GREED. I will say that this episode kept me entertained just like the first one did but at the same time I beginning to worry that this isn't going to reach the greatness that I was hoping for. Still, I think film buffs will enjoy seeing the various film clips and there's no question that this is an original way to approach telling the history of film. Cousins does a nice job with the narration and there's no doubt that he's at least giving us an original look at the history of cinema even if I'm not sure it's going to pay off throughout a total of more than 15-hours.
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When Things Really Take Off
Hitchcoc31 March 2015
We are now in the 20's when the machinery had advanced well enough to catch up with ideas. Cousins looks at Hollywood because that is where the big money went, primarily from the rich men on the east coast. It focuses on the rich studio moguls who called most of the shots, creating the star system while almost holding their stars in slavery. Cousins feels the strongest of the American films came from the comedy genre. He focuses on Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd and others who really were the creative force in Hollywood. They directed and acted in their work to great success. But when push came to shove, they were shunned because of their perceived politics. In the cases of Chaplin and KeatonThe dramatic laurels went to the likes of Erich Von Stroheim and Carl Dreyer, who were the masters of lighting and other innovations in the advancement of film. Two masterpieces are looked at in detail. Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" and Von Stroheim's "Greed." There are numerous others who moved these things forward, but they also were not allowed a part in the Hollywood fraternity, probably because of abject bigotry and xenophobia. When it came to the silent era, these gentlemen had few peers.
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