I asked my readers to vote on which decade of the silent era they would like to learn more about and the 1910s won by a landslide.
For those keeping track at home:
- 1890s: 10%
- 1900s: 13%
- 1910s: 48%
- 1920s: 22%
- 1930s: 7%
I am very excited about this because the 1910s are my favorite decade by far and they are often overlooked. In fact, many montages of American film history go from The Great Train Robbery to The Birth of a Nation to the Roaring Twenties while barely stopping for breath. And yet I have managed to review over a hundred 1910s films without once covering something involving pointy hoods. (Unless you count Joan the Woman. I think DeMille was trying to tell us something.)
The films of the 1910 are vibrant and crackling with potential. It was an decade that saw the rise of the studio system, the dominance of feature-length films. the move from the east coast to Hollywood, the outbreak of WWI and the Spanish Influenza. The films covered just about every topic imaginable, from abortion to pacifism to drug addiction to alcohol abuse to the connection between poverty and crime.
Filmmaking was all over the place, with some productions looking more like the 1900s and others on the bleeding edge of advanced techniques. The Russian film industry rose and then most of the big names fled to Paris, leaving us with a divided filmmaking culture with an unmatched body of work. The Germans were rising to prominence while the French were fighting to keep their place after the shattering damage of the War. Despite what you might have heard, the British film business was putting out very interesting work, thank you very much. And African-Americans were flexing their creative muscles by supporting black filmmakers and boycotting a racist studio into insolvency.
I will continue covering these astonishing years and I am so glad you are interested in learning with me.