Some of us are fortunate enough to live near venues that offer regular silent film screening but many must watch silent movies on home video formats. Well, let’s indulge in a little fantasy. If you could see any surviving silent film on the big screen, which film would you choose?
There are lots of choices so I decided to go in a slightly different direction this time and say that I would really, really like to see The Blue Bird on the big screen. I am not a huge fan of the plot but Maurice Tourneur’s visuals are amazing on DVD, I can only imagine how wondrous they would be in a theater with live music!
What about you? Which silent film are you particularly excited to see on the big screen? I want to know! (I am limiting the choices to surviving films because most-wanted lost films is an entire thread of its own!)
Can I cheat with two answers?
First – Abel Gance’s Napoleon for three reasons. One is that I love it. Two is that seeing the full three-screen triptych on the big screen(s) would be a great experience. Third is that I’d love to rub it in the faces of the people who wanted a medal for watching the three-hour Endgame movie. Five-and-a-half-hours! Take that, bladder!
Second – I think Epic of Everest would be gorgeous on the big screen. That would be about as close as I’ll ever get to Mount Everest. Why does it seem like my answer to any one of these questions is always Epic of Everest?
Five and a half hours? I did see the triptych on a big screen, but I don’t remember it lasting quite that long. I’d love to see this “uncut” version, but with a couple intermissions.
Abel Gance’s NAPOLEON with the score by Carl Davis. I saw the film in Los Angeles back around 1981 with the Carmine Coppola score. Since then the restored 5 1/2 hour version with the Davis score has been released on blu-ray in England. I have this (and a multi-region player). It’s a great film and fun to watch on blu-ray but it really cries out for a full scale theatrical presentation.
MICHAEL STROGOFF (1926). I’ve seen it on YouTube. Currently this is the only way you can see it. This is another one that needs a theatrical screening.
Napoleon, and the only proper place here would be the National Opera. It could accomodate the triprych and the orchestra pit allows to hide a big live orchestra suitable for the Carl Davis score
This is pure fantasy.
Any of Garbo’s silents. Top choice: “A Woman of Affairs” (her best silent IMO).
My three picks would be Joe May’s “Asphalt”, Murnau’s “The Last Laugh” and Stroheim’s “Greed”.
Yes! Intolerance would be my first choice also. Would love to see some of the little teens like Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch or Eyes of Julia Deep or a bunch of Vitagraph shorts (Kalem, Thanhouser or what-have-you). Heck, lotsa stuff!
It’s hard to argue against “Napoleon”–I have a disc with the Coppola score & it must run well over four hours.
But I’ll opt instead for “La Roue.” It has both spectacle & human interest. For me, “Napoleon” entirely lacks that second quality.
But “Greed,” “Intolerance” & “Wings” would all be good.
A midnight showing of “Haxan” in a theater could be mind-blowing.
Abel Gance’s Napoleon
On the big screen I would think “The Wind” would play well. It was screened in Frederick, Maryland just a couple of years ago but I was unable to get to it.
My Best Girl because it is my favorite.
Wings because the flight sequences would be awesome to see on a big screen.
Mickey. I saw it at U of T long ago on a big screen with live piano accompaniment and would love to see again.
Also, Gance’s J’Accuse. Just watched it again and it is, to say the least, timely.
All MS commenters’ choices above are superb choices.
The Crowd or Lady of the Night.
I’d love to see The Man who Laughs, one of my favourite films, based on one of my favourite books starring two of my favourite actors: Conrsd Veidt and Olga Baclanova.
The Phantom of The Opera.
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