This is a movie with a simple plot, if you can call it a “plot”. It’s more of an examination, a look-in on the life of an interesting and sad character. This is a movie about a woman named Songlian, who is sent to an early twentieth-century harem to be a concubine to the rich landlord. It’s simple enough. There’s no real plot in terms of beginning, middle, and end. It is mostly a documentary of her life—and her decline—as she struggles with the hostility of such an objectified existence. Continue reading →
*And supplementary lecture on the nature of silent film.
This blog is due for another silent film, and the one that I have selected is Battleship Potemkin (or, in Russian, Bronenosyets Potyomkin). As was recently posted, Potemkin stands at number 2 on my list of the “Most Important Films of All Time.” These are films selected strictly for aesthetic and technical innovation, with the qualification that said innovation produced radical change in the popular movie landscape, and not due to story or tertiary film elements along the lines of score, acting, or literary devices—save for those situations when one of those tertiary elements brought forth radical change (Wizard of Oz, for example). These were, quite simply, decided upon the film itself. Not the film as in “the movie,” but film as in the film, the literal celluloid collection. Embracing film as a singular art medium is a necessary facet to understanding silent films, and is unfortunately lost in much of what we consider quality film criticism today. Continue reading →