Why Silent Films Aren’t Boring

Why Silent Films Aren’t Boring

As a filmmaker and video-creator, I’ve always
been fascinated with silent films. There’s something about them that is inherently
comical and just fun to watch. And yet they lack one of the most important
elements of a good film. Which is dialogue. That’s why in this video, I’ll be breaking
down and analyzing what exactly makes silent films entertaining. If you’ve watched a modern-day comedy movie
or TV show recently especially an American one then you may have noticed how much the
comedy relies on dialogue. This is because the majority of comedy today
focuses on entertaining the audience by telling jokes rather than doing funny things. Back before it was possible to synchronize
film with audio actors like Charlie Chaplin Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd had to be inventive
to entertain audiences. They were physical and visual comedians so
their routines consisted of facial expressions, body language, and lots of well-orchestrated
and well-timed stunts and gags. Often their work was very exaggerated and
over the top a comedy style which later became known as slapstick comedy. Part of what makes silent films like these
so entertaining is how real they actually are. In most modern movies and TV shows dangerous
stunts are either done using CGI or require large teams of trained stunt performers or
stunt doubles. This means that in order to make the stunts
look real they have to be fast paced with quick cuts and lots of camera movement. Before all of this existed movie stunts were
either done for real or used practical effects. Because of this, they could show the whole
stunt being performed without cutting. And additionally the majority of silent films
were shot almost completely stationary. Another reason this type of comedy is so entertaining
is that anything can be made into a joke. Everything from the way someone walks, to the way a newspaper is opened and read, to the way someone or something enters or leaves
the frame can be made funny without saying anything. In essence, this is why films like this remain
popular to this day. Because the jokes don’t require dialogue they
can be universally understood. Meaning you don’t need to learn a particular language
to understand the joke. That made these films more accessible to a wider audience and why traces of the style can be found in filmmaking to this day. Thanks for watching.

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  1. Very good points about silent films. I haven't seen one in years, and this makes me want to go watch one. Great video, Rory!

  2. Rory, you are right. This VideoEssay might be the best one yet! My next trip to the library will include checking out some silent films. Proud to be your Grandmere.

  3. Nice video Rory, good to see some more content. You’re points are very correct and silent films do have lots of exaggerated movement and facial expression which comes from theatre

  4. Hi there, Rory! Sorry I forgot to leave my feedback on this earlier as I watched this a second time, the production quality is pretty sweet. I like your analogy analysis on the comedy from past to present, I remember covering silent films in my Film Editing and Theory course last year. My retired professor / returning film director showed us how those films were shot, edited and even the challenges of synchronized sound in the early days. Thank you for the opportunity to share this, and hopefully your school year is going well!

  5. Hi Rory!
    I am very proud in to know how you so young have interessing in silent pictures.
    I watch a silent picture i was 18 and the movie was Gold Rush by Chaplin.Was the my first time.
    Yes the silent comedy it´s jewel to a movie lover like us.
    Chaplin it´s my favourite.And of course another kind of silent pictures.

  6. Well done! You have chosen great clips from some of the funniest films out there. But there are also gorgeous and very moving silent dramas, are you familiar with films like THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC or SUNRISE or SEVENTH HEAVEN? WINGS? I'd be interested to hear your reaction to these classics.

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