For those unaware of my Top Ten By Year project:
The majority of my viewing habits have been dictated by this project since September 2013. Jumping to a different decade each time, I pick weak years for me re: quantity of films seen and/or quality of films seen in comparison to other years from said decade. I use list-making to see more films and revisit others in a structured and project-driven way. And I always make sure to point out that my lists are based on personal ‘favorites’ not any notion of an objective ‘best’.
I miss the way actors faces used to be photographed. The head-on shot. Directors and actors using the camera as connective tissue, a delivery service to the audience. This wasn’t breaking the fourth wall — just one of the most commonly used angles, getting us access to the in-between spaces. In silent film, we frequently become eavesdropping ghosts with the ability to insert ourselves anywhere without disruption.
After starting in April, I have finally reached the end of 1925. The road was rough this time around for a few reasons. For one thing, I went through a major break-up which put life and movie watching on hold for a good month and a half. And I’m not going to lie, restricting my viewings to mostly silent films for several months was trying at times. I love silent films, but I often have to be in a certain receptive head-space for them, a kind of synchronization that aligns us both. And I’m picky with them to boot. And so, working through the watchlist took longer than it normally would have.
I’m also in a writing slump. I normally take notes while watching films, and/or jot down thoughts in a notebook after viewing. But for 1925 I became very lazy about this process. So the idea of writing about films I watched months ago, when you aren’t feeling inspired to begin with, has put me at a standstill. The more I try to force it, the more time I end up wasting, and wasting time is something I’m trying to do less of these days. So for this year, I’m going to do what I hoped I’d never do; I’m just going to drop the list without ceremony. This decision basically goes back on the entire purpose of this project, but I don’t think enough people read this for it to be more of a disappointment than it probably is for myself. But I cannot sit in 1925 limbo any longer. So here you go. We will get back to our regularly scheduled programming for my next year, 2005.
What I’ve learned is that I love silent spectacle; there is, and never will be, anything else like it. I’m more drawn to silent films that try to operate in more than one mode, tone, or genre even if they sometimes fail at doing so. And finally, the power of an actor’s face, and their chemistry with the camera and costars, goes a very long way for me.
1925 Films Seen: (bold; first-time viewing, italic; re-watch)
Joyless Street, Seven Chances, Phantom of the Opera, The Eagle, The Red Kimona, Lazybones, The Freshman, The Wizard of Oz, Cobra, The Goose Woman, Lady of the Night, Variete, Tartuffe, The Salvation Hunters, Go West, Woman of the World, The Lost World, Whirlpool of Fate, The Gold Rush, Master of the House, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Orochi, Body and Soul, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Pleasure Garden, Visages D’Enfants, Don Q, The Big Parade, Ben-Hur, Chess Fever, Battleship Potemkin, The Unholy Three, Strike, The Gold Rush, The Merry Widow, The Road to Yesterday, Stage Struck
1. Joyless Street (Germany, Pabst)
2. Stage Struck (US, Dwan)
3. The Merry Widow (US, von Stroheim)
4. The Road to Yesterday (US, DeMille)
5. The Gold Rush (US, Chaplin)
6. Lazybones (US, Borzage)
7. The Big Parade (US, Vidor)
8. The Eagle (US, Brown)
9. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (US, Niblo)
10. The last 20 minutes of Seven Chances (US, Keaton)