Last week, news channels announced that one of Alfred Hitchcock’s long-lost silent films, The White Shadow, had been found. Only about half of the full print exists, but it is nonetheless the earliest Hitchcock work that currently exists, and you can watch it right here on the web.
Alfred Hitchock is only one amazing director that his/her start in the silent era of filmmaking. The silent era is an amazing period of film, where the language of visual, in-motion storytelling was still being created out of nothing, and where all stories had to be told on the strength of their image. Directors who were forged in that era often went on to create sound films that birthed the golden age of filmmaking.
Some of these silent era experiments in film either did not work or do not age well; some silent filmmaking is difficult to endure even for an intrepid film nerd. However, there are a great many silent films that are fascinating, even 90 or 100 years later.
After a couple conversations I had last week about Hitchcock’s very early work, I realized that even some film fans I know aren’t very familiar with silent moviemaking. Thus, I figured it might be nice to assemble a Silent Film Primer: a list of silent films that could pique the interest of casual film fans.
Please keep in mind that the list below is not a “best of” list. It should not be judged by what it omits (“You forgot my favorite one!”). It is merely meant to be a list that highlights particularly nifty silent films that I believe would be fun for people who aren’t already familiar with very early filmmaking.
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