Dir. Fritz Lang
My rating: 8.5/10
A very interesting film, if a bit heavy handed with its message. I was quite glad to discover that watching the film at this time I was actually able to view the most complete construction of the original film since it was first released, thanks to reels newly discovered in 2010. Visually I love this movie, after I watched it I was thinking about it for hours, the construction of the city and the cinematography used by Lang are amazing, but by far the most compelling aspect of the film was Brigitte Helm’s performance as the Machine Man/Maria; the way she was able to act so differently, going from a kind, motherly, Virgin Mary-like figure, to becoming a crazed, demonic robot woman, with her choppy, robotic movements and wide-eyed stare, simply amazing.
Dir. Buster Keaton
My rating: 9.5/10
A very funny film, with wonderful slapstick comedy. I particularly enjoyed the scene when Keaton first started dreaming and was standing in the film as it switched scenes, dropping him on the edge of a cliff, into busy traffic and into a literal lion’s den. It was very clever and quite meta-fictional to have Keaton jumping in and out of a projected film as if it were a physical dimension, and I can’t wrap my head around how he did it, so I’m sure it blew the audience’s minds in 1924! I almost wish the film were longer so that the central love triangle narrative could have been better developed, perhaps if Sherlock Jr had been inspired by his dream to win the girl back, rather than her just coming to him at the end having already discovered the villain’s trick herself.
Dir. Charlie Chaplin
My rating: 10/10
I didn’t expect to find Chaplin funny, but I was blown away by how well the comedy held up to a modern viewer. I also thought the score was amazing for such an early film, reminding me in places of Fantasia, which I feel actually reflects a lack of development in film score rather than this film being ahead of its time. The emotional investment in the tramp and the kid was very strong as well, I feel Chaplin’s emotional performance in this film was really emphasised due to his personal connection to the story, having been inspired to make the film by the death of his newborn child.
EDIT: I have now realised that the version of the film I watched used Chaplin’s updated soundtrack from 1971 so my comments about the score being ahead of its time do not really apply, but it was still a fantastic score anyway.