7 articles Articles posted in 1920s

Silent Shadow of the Bat-Man: A Film by Andre Perkowski

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From the corrupt and nefarious cinematic mind of filmmaker Andre Perkowski comes this series of fantastic silent Batman adventures. Episodes 1 and 2 detail the caped crusader’s origin story. You know the one, but you’ve probably never seen it told this way before.

Perkowski has been featured here before for his ongoing epic adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ novel, ‘Nova Express.’

 

 

Here’s an update from the filmmaker himself! All five parts of the Bat-Man serial with a live symphony playing along!

 

 

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The Seashell and the Clergyman: 1928 Surrealist Film by Germaine Dulac

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A clergyman goes insane with lust for the wife of a general in this ravishingly beautiful silent film by one of the greatest surrealist filmmakers of all time, Germaine Dulac. She captures states of mind on film like no one I’ve ever seen. If you are looking for magic in cinema, you are going to find it here. This is a film about magic, desire, obsession, male/female power, love, faith, mysticism, and reality. Her story is hypnotic and her special effects are superb.

Here’s another of her films that I wrote about on this site.

 

Dulac

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Aelita Queen of Mars: First Russian Science Fiction Film 1924

This is regarded as being the first Soviet science fiction film. Made in 1924, it’s an operatic scenario involving a mysterious radio signal sent toward earth, a scientist who builds a spaceship to get to the red planet only to find a totalitarian state, and a dictator’s daughter who wants to lead a revolution. There’s even a hammer and sickle to go along with the establishment of a socialist republic on Mars.

The film combines outlandish stage scenery representing Mars with the gritty streets and factories of Moscow. There’s some really beautiful photography and truly absurd costumes throughout.

Directed By Yakov Protozoan
Written By Aleksei Fajko and Fyodor Otsep
Based On A Play By Aleksei Tolstoy

All six parts of the film can be seen in this YouTube playlist.

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Les Mystères du Château de Dé: 1929 Film by Man Ray

Surrealist art great, Man Ray, made this film in 1929. It follows a pair of indecisive travelers who base all their action on chance. They head out to a fabulous chateau in the hills and wander around inside and out. They run into four odd persons who enjoy swimming and running about as if the place is their private gym. But what is Man Ray doing here? Why all these shots of windows, lamps, sculptures? He is finding the abnormal in the normal. Wherever he happens to be with a camera he can make the surreal. He’s functioning as an artist, looking for odd angles, shadows, contrasts. He is also diving into the great current of his culture. The house is a castle filled with fine objects and great art. Man Ray is expressing his enthusiasm. This is an extremely childish film. I mean that as a compliment, though I really see nothing exceptional in works for children. But for an artist to function as a child for a certain amount of time is extraordinary and beneficial I think. But that kind of thinking must end and lead to its own destruction. In other words, I do not think any children’s author or illustrator should ever continue to work in that way for more than a few years. Then it is time to think about serious things and to make things that upset people. Perhaps that is my main criticism for most of the things I have seen by Man Ray. He seems a little bit too pleasant. I might be wrong about that. I have to look a little more.

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Celles Qui S’En Font: 1928 Short Film by Germaine Dulac

Germaine Dulac was one of the original French film ‘auteurs.’ She was also a film theorist and feminist. She had a relatively short career as an avant-garde filmmaker, making such works as ‘The Smiling Madam Beaudet (1923) and ‘The Seashell and the Clergyman’ (1928) which is often credited as being the first Surrealist film.

In this film, the title translated as ‘Those Who Make Themselves,’ we follow a destitute drunk woman who appears to yearn for the life of a prostitute or to engage in some sort of tryst. It is also possible that she is simply despondent over rejection by a lover. She appears to fail at everything she tries and eventually walks down a staircase into the Seine river. It’s a very simple film that manages to convey a deep sense of loneliness.

Dulac insisted on being credited as the author of her films, not accepting the standard partnership between a screenwriter and director.

Here’s a 1923 quote from Dulac:

I believe that cinematographic work must come out of a shock of sensibility, of a vision of one being who can only express himself in the cinema. The director must be a screenwriter or the screenwriter a director. Like all other arts, cinema comes from a sensible emotion … To be worth something and “bring” something, this emotion must come from one source only. The screenwriter that “feels” his idea must be able to stage it. From this, the technique follows.

Here’s a Senses of Cinema article on Germaine Dulac entitled ‘The Importance of Being a Film Author: Germaine Dulac and Female Authorship.’

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Jean Renoir’s 1928 Version of The Little Match Girl


This is a 1928 version of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Match Girl,’ directed by French film great Jean Renoir and Jean Tédesco. The story is a simple one about the visions of a poor match girl as she freezes to death in the snow. It’s a loose adaptation that actually seems rather rigid and too involved with its sets and props to really give any feeling of the fantastic. It is also pro-forma in its pathos or portrayal of the match girl’s despair. Also, the leading actress, Catherine Hessling, is completely unappealing. Apparently, one of the toy soldiers was played by Lucia Joyce, the daughter of author James Joyce.

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