Category Archives: 1920s

#266 Battleship Potemkin

(1925, Sergei Eisenstein)
Броненосец «Потёмкин»

With all eyes recently on Russia because of the Sochi Winter Olympics and the much-less positive anti-gay laws, and even less positive actions in Ukraine, it seems somewhat fitting that today we will be taking a look at one of the most successful Russian propaganda movies ever made, Battleship Potemkin.

Battleship Potemkin is a dramatic re-enactment of the 1905 mutiny on the real Potemkin, where sailors disobeyed their officers over their working conditions, and these actions ultimately led to the Russian Revolution of 1917. The movie, which celebrates the rebellion and the rise of communism, starts with sailors living in squalor and forced to eat maggot-infested meat, ultimately culminating in a battle, and gaining the sympathy of the people of Odessa.

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#221 Sunrise

(1927, F.W. Murnau)
A Song Of Two Humans

Last time we looked at the influential German silent film director F.W. Murnau here on SvTM, it was with his famous vampire movie, Nosferatu. This time, we take a look at something very different: a romance movie, and one that was made in Hollywood instead of Germany. However, while Nosferatu was a very conventional vampire movie, there’s something very unconventional about Sunrise.

This is immediately obvious when the plot starts. In a seaside town, the Woman From The City (Margaret Livingston) arrives and seduces a local Man (George O’Brien), and convinces him to murder his Wife (Janet Gaynor). When he takes his Wife out on a boat ride, he finds that he can’t drown her, and instead returns to shore, where she flees. However, after he pursues her, they end up spending a rather lovely day in the City together, where they rekindle their love for one another.

Yeah, there’s a bit of a mood shift in that plot, you might notice. Starting out as a dark murder thriller, the movie takes a sudden turn into romantic whimsy, and on paper that sounds absolutely awful. In practice, however, it’s actually very good.

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#210 & #211 Nosferatu

(1922, F.W. Murnau & 1979, Werner Herzog)

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens

Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht

Nosferatu is possibly one of the most famous silent movies ever made, and a massive influence on horror films for years to come. Essentially a name-swapped unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nosferatu is one of the earliest vampire movies and certainly the most influential. But how many people are aware that it received a remake in 1979 by the equally German director Werner Herzog? Well, today we’re going to look at both and see how well they hold up.

Both films follow the story of Dracula to a tee, with a man named Jonathan Harker Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangeheim/Bruno Gans) receiving word that a man from Translyvania wishes to buy a property in their small town. He ventures to Transylvania, where he is met with fear from the villagers when he says he wishes to visit the mansion. At the mansion, he meets Count Dracula Orlok (Max Shreck/Klaus Kinsi), a strange-looking man who sleeps during the day and lives by night. However, once the deal is done, a reign of terror falls on our hero’s peaceful town when the curse of the vampire takes over.

Basically, exactly what you’d expect from a vampire movie that doesn’t involve teenagers and sparkling. Both are pretty standard stories and don’t really hold many surprises today. But they are mildly entertaining.

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#148 Metropolis

(1927, Fritz Lang)

“The mediator between the head and hands must be the heart”

What’s the most influential sci-fi movie ever made? Most modern audiences would suggest the likes of Star Wars or Blade Runner, or even go as far as suggesting The Matrix. 2001: A Space Odyssey would be likely to crop up in the discussion too. But what about the movie that started it all? The first major sci-fi epic, made during the silent era: Metropolis.

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#126 Nanook Of The North

(1922, Robert J. Flaherty)

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