1925: 4 movies

(Last updated 4 September 2012)

Das wiedergefundene Paradies
Directed by Lotte Lendesdorff and Walther Ruttmann

   This is a retelling of the biblical story of Adam and Eve.  A man and woman eat from the forbidden tree and are exiled from Paradise. Focusing on the sexual aspect, we see the man and woman separated. A dove bridges the torn connection and unites the sexes. At that point, we see a cascade of beautifully photographed real flowers which contrasts gloriously against the drawings, paper-cutouts and sculptures. It's fantastic from the idyllic beginning through the existential misery to the triumphant end.
   The title translates as "Paradise Regained".

The Gold Rush
Written, directed, edited, produced,
and starring Charles Chaplin
Co-starring Mack Swain, Georgia Hale,
Malcolm Waite, and Tom Murray
Cinematography by Roland Totheroh
Production design by Charles D. Hall

   As the shot above shows, this movie is all about taking the common stagy indoor scene and tilting it. Chaplin takes us to the gold rush in Alaska, shows us the lives of prospectors, mining towns, saloons, and the yearning for love. Through it all, we're treated to epic photography by Roland Totheroh, as well as astounding sets and stunts. The last bit of the storyline shows us the tramp getting rich and still not being able to shake off his trampish persona. It's a priceless bit which seamlessly blends the great story with Chaplin's own biography. Quite a feat, by any standard!

Paris qui dort
Directed, written, and edited by RenĂ© Clair
Produced by Henri Diamant-Berger
Cinematography by Maurice Desfassiaux and Paul Guichard

   Remember that night when all of Paris was asleep and we ruled the city? That's the premise of this movie. The genre shifts from surrealism to divine fantasy to science fiction to romance, all the while keeping our sights engaged with its breath-taking panoramas and quick-witted humor.
   The title translates as "Paris asleep".


Opus IV
Directed by Walther Ruttmann

   Flashing horizontal bars meet with flashing vertical bars, then are taken over by hauntingly blue vertical waves that engage in a shoving match. It's mesmerizing, for sure. It reminds of the work of painter Mark Rothko, but it's before Rothko. It's like flickering static on televison, but it's before television. It's probably most inspired by signal lamps transmitting codes like Morse Code. But here the code has gotten out of hand, it's scrambled and unintelligible, as if it's a desperate plea. In a way, it calls to mind the use of cinema, and how transmitting information is one of those uses, if not the only. What are we saying and what are we understanding? Is dominance the only goal? This movie should be brought up whenever the claim needs to be supported that cinema is art.

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