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A still from the 1921 Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of the highest-grossing silent movie.
Charlie Chaplin, widely acclaimed as one of the most iconic actors of the silent era, c. 1919

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). Though silent movie convey narrative and emotion visually, various plot elements (such as a setting or era) or key lines of dialogue may, when necessary, be conveyed by the utilizeof title cards.

The term "silent film" is something of a misnomer, as these movie were almost always accompanied by live sounds. During the silent era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in hugecities, a small orchestra—would often play melodyto accompany the movie. Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation. Sometimes a person would even narrate the intertitle cards for the audience. Though at the time the technology to synchronize sound with the moviedid not exist, melodywas seen as an necessarypart of the viewing experience. "Silent film" is typically utilize as a historical term to describe an era of cinema prior to the invention of synchronized sound, however it also naturally applies to sound-era movie such as TownLights and The Artist which are accompanied by a music-only soundtrack in territoryof dialogue.

The term silent film is a retronym—a term madeto retroactively distinguish something from later developments. Early sound movie, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies", "sound movie", or "talking pictures". The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as movieitself, but because of the techchallenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. Within a decade, the widespread production of silent movie for famousentertainment had ceased, and the industry had moved fully into the sound era, in which film were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue, melodyand sound result.

Most early motion pictures are considered lost because the nitrate film utilize in that era was extremely unstable and flammable. Additionally, many movie were deliberately destroyed because they had negligible continuing financial value in this era. It has often been claimed that around 75 percent of silent movie produced in the US have been lost, though these estimates may be inaccurate due to a lack of numerical data.

Elements and beginnings (1833–1894)

The Horse in Motion, animated from a plate by Eadweard Muybridge, angry with an array of cameras set up along a racetrack
Roundhay Garden Scene, which has a running time of just over two seconds, was filmed in 1888. It is trust to be the globes earliest surviving motion-picture film. The elderly lady in black is Sarah Whitley, the mother-in-law of filmmaker Louis Le Prince; she died ten days after this scene was filmed.

Movieprojection mostly evolved from magic lantern present, which use a glass lens, and a persistent light source (such as a powerful lantern) to project photo from glass slides onto a wall. These slides were originally hand-painted, but, after the advent of photography in the 19th century, still photographs were sometimes utilize. The invention of a practical photography apparatus preceded cinema by about fifty years.

In 1833, Joseph Plateau introduced the principle of stroboscopic animation with his Fantascope (better known as the phenakistiscope). Six years later, Louis Daguerre introduced the first successful photographic system. Initially, the chemicals were not light-sensitive enough to properly capture moving topic at all. Plateau recommendedan early wayto animate stereoscopic photographs in 1849, with a stop motion technique. Jules Duboscq produced a simplified device in 1852, but it was not very successful. Early successes in instantaneous photography in the late 1850s inspired freshhope to develop animated (stereo)photography systems, but in the next two decades the few attempts once again utilize stop-motion techniques.

In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge utilize a row of a dozen cameras to record a running horse (as recommendedby others much earlier) and surprised the globewith the effect, published as The Horse in Motion cabinet cards with rows of tinystill pictures. Many others started to work with chronophotography and tried to animate and project the effect. Ottomar Anschutz had much success with his Electrotachyscope since 1887, with very clear animated photographic photo displayed on a tinymilk-glass screen or inside coin-slot viewers, until he started projecting the photo on a hugescreen in 1894. His recordings only lasted a few seconds, and inspired the Edison Company to compete with movie that could last circa 20 seconds in their Kinetoscope peep-box filmviewers from 1893 onward.

Silent movieera

Play media
PLAY: A one-minute 1904 movieby Edison Studios re-enacting the Fightof Chemulpo Bay, which occurred on 9 February that year off the coast of present-day Incheon, Korea.

The work of Muybridge, Marey, and Le Prince laid the foundation for future development of motion picture cameras, projectors and transparent celluloid film, which lead to the development of cinema as we know it today. American inventor George Eastman, who had first manufactured photographic dry plates in 1878, angry headway on a stable kindof celluloid moviein 1888.

The art of motion pictures grew into full maturity in the "silent era" (1894 in film1929 in film). The height of the silent era (from the early 1910s in film to the late 1920s) was a particularly fruitful period, full of artistic innovation. The moviemovements of Classical Hollywood as well as French Impressionism, German Expressionism, and Soviet Montage began in this period. Silent filmmakers pioneered the art form to the extent that virtually every style and genre of film-making of the 20th and 21st centuries has its artistic roots in the silent era. The silent era was also a pioneering one from a techpoint of view. Three-point lighting, the close-up, long shot, panning, and continuity editing all became prevalent long before silent movie were replaced by "talking pictures" or "talkies" in the late 1920s. Some scholars claim that the artistic quality of cinema decreased for several years, during the early 1930s, until moviedirectors, actors, and production staff adapted fully to the new "talkies" around the mid 1930s.

The visual quality of silent film—especially those produced in the 1920s—was often high, but there remains a widely held misconception that these movie were primitive, or are barely watchable by modern standards. This misconception comes from the general public's unfamiliarity with the medium, as well as from carelessness on the part of the industry. Most silent movie are poorly preserved, leading to their deterioration, and well-preserved movie are often played back at the wrong speed or suffer from censorship cuts and missing frames and scenes, giving the appearance of badediting. Many silent movie exist only in second- or third-generation copies, often angry from already damaged and neglected moviestock. Another widely held misconception is that silent movie lacked color. In fact, color was far more prevalent in silent movie than in the first few decades of sound movie. By the early 1920s, 80 per cent of film could be seen in some sort of color, usually in the form of movietinting or toning or even hand coloring, but also with fairly natural two-color processes such as Kinemacolor and Technicolor. Traditional colorization processes ceased with the adoption of sound-on-film technology. Traditional moviecolorization, all of which involved the utilizeof dyes in some form, interfered with the high resolution neededfor built-in recorded sound, and were therefore abandoned. The innovative three-strip technicolor process introduced in the mid-30s was costly and fraught with limitations, and color would not have the same prevalence in movieas it did in the silents for nearly four decades.


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) utilize stylized intertitles.

As motion pictures gradually increased in running time, a replacement was requiredfor the in-house interpreter who would explain parts of the movieto the audience. Because silent movie had no synchronized sound for dialogue, onscreen intertitles were utilize to narrate story points, showkey dialogue and sometimes even comment on the action for the audience. The title writer became a key professional in silent movieand was often separate from the scenario writer who madethe story. Intertitles (or titles as they were generally called at the time) "often were graphic elements themselves, featuring illustrations or abstract decorations that commented on the action".[citation needed]

Live melodyand other sound accompaniment

Showings of silent movie almost always featured live melodystarting with the first public projection of film by the Lumière brothers on December 28, 1895, in Paris. This was furthered in 1896 by the first motion-picture exhibition in the United States at Koster and Bial's MelodyHall in FreshYork City. At this event, Edison set the precedent that all exhibitions canbe accompanied by an orchestra. From the beginning, melodywas recognized as essential, contributing atmosphere, and giving the audience vital emotional cues. Musicians sometimes played on moviesets during shooting for similar reasons. However, depending on the size of the exhibition site, musical accompaniment could drastically modifyin scale. Tinycityand neighborhood filmtheatres usually had a pianist. Beginning in the mid-1910s, hugetowntheaters tended to have organists or ensembles of musicians. Massive theatre organs, which were plannedto fill a gap between a easypiano soloist and a huge orchestra, had a wide range of special result. Theatrical organs such as the famous "Mighty Wurlitzer" could simulate some orchestral sounds along with a number of percussion result such as bass drums and cymbals, and sound result ranging from "train and boat whistles [to] vehiclehorns and bird whistles; ... some could even simulate pistol shots, ringing telephone, the sound of surf, horses' hooves, smashing pottery, [and] thunder and rain".

Musical scores for early silent movie were either improvised or compiled of classical or theatrical repertory music. Once full features became commonplace, however, melodywas compiled from photoplay music by the pianist, organist, orchestra conductor or the filmstudio itself, which contain a cue sheet with the film. These sheets were often lengthy, with detailed notes about result and moods to watch for. Starting with the mostly original score composed by Joseph Vehicle Breil for D. W. Griffith's groundbreaking, but racially devastating epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), it became relatively common for the biggest-budgeted movie to arrive at the exhibiting theater with original, specially composed scores. However, the first designated full-blown scores had in fact been composed in 1908, by Camille Saint-Saëns for The Assassination of the Duke of Guise, and by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov for Stenka Razin.

When organists or pianists utilize sheet music, they still might add improvisational flourishes to heighten the drama on screen. Even when special result were not indicated in the score, if an organist was playing a theater organ capable of an unusual sound resultsuch as "galloping horses", it would be utilize during scenes of dramatic horseback chases.

At the height of the silent era, film were the single biggestsource of employment for instrumental musicians, at least in the United States. However, the introduction of talkies, coupled with the roughly simultaneous onset of the AmazingDepression, was devastating to many musicians.

A number of countries devised other method of bringing sound to silent movie. The early cinema of Brazil, for example, featured fitas cantatas (singing movie), filmed operettas with singers performing behind the screen. In Japan, movie had not only live melodybut also the benshi, a live narrator who deliveredcommentary and herovoices. The benshi became a central element in Japanese film, as well as providing translation for foreign (mostly American) film. The popularity of the benshi was one reason why silent movie persisted well into the 1930s in Japan.

Score restorations from 1980 to the present

Few moviescores survive intact from the silent period, and musicologists are still confronted by questions when they attempt to precisely reconstruct those that remain. Scores utilize in current reissues or screenings of silent movie may be complete reconstructions of compositions, newly composed for the occasion, assembled from already existing melodylibraries, or improvised on the spot in the manner of the silent-era theater musician.

Interest in the scoring of silent movie fell somewhat out of fashion during the 1960s and 1970s. There was a belief in many college moviesoftware and repertory cinemas that audiences canexperience silent movieas a pure visual medium, undistracted by music. This belief may have been encouraged by the badquality of the melodytracks found on many silent moviereprints of the time. Since around 1980, there has been a revival of interest in presenting silent movie with quality musical scores (either reworkings of period scores or cue sheets, or the composition of appropriate original scores). An early effort of this typewas Kevin Brownlow's 1980 restoration of Abel Gance's Napoléon (1927), featuring a score by Vehicle Davis. A slightly re-edited and sped-up version of Brownlow's restoration was later distributed in the United States by Francis Ford Coppola, with a live orchestral score composed by his father Carmine Coppola.

In 1984, an edited restoration of Metropolis (1927) was released with a freshrock melodyscore by producer-composer Giorgio Moroder. Although the contemporary score, which contain pop songs by Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, and Jon Anderson of Yes, was controversial, the door had been opened for a freshapproach to the presentation of classic silent movie.

Today, a hugenumber of soloists, melodyensembles, and orchestras perform traditional and contemporary scores for silent movie internationally. The legendary theater organist Gaylord Carter continued to perform and record his original silent moviescores until shortly before his death in 2000; some of those scores are accessibleon DVD reissues. Other purveyors of the traditional approach containorganists such as Dennis James and pianists such as Neil Brand, Günter Buchwald, Philip C. Carli, Ben Model, and William P. Perry. Other contemporary pianists, such as Stephen Horne and Gabriel Thibaudeau, have often taken a more modern approach to scoring.

Orchestral conductors such as Vehicle Davis and Robert Israel have written and compiled scores for numerous silent movie; many of these have been featured in showings on Turner Classic Film or have been released on DVD. Davis has composed freshscores for classic silent dramas such as The GiganticParade (1925) and Flesh and the Devil (1927). Israel has worked mainly in silent comedy, scoring the movie of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charley Chase and others. Timothy Brock has restored many of Charlie Chaplin's scores, in addition to composing freshscores.

Contemporary melodyensembles are helping to introduce classic silent movie to a wider audience through a broad range of musical styles and approaches. Some performers create freshcompositions using traditional musical instruments, while others add electronic sounds, modern harmonies, rhythms, improvisation and sound design elements to enhance the viewing experience. Among the contemporary ensembles in this category are Un Drame Musical Instantané, Alloy Orchestra, Club Foot Orchestra, Silent Orchestra, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Minima and the Caspervek Trio, RPM Orchestra. Donald Sosin and his wife Joanna Seaton specialize in adding vocals to silent movie, particularly where there is onscreen singing that benefits from hearing the actual song being performed. Movie in this category containGriffith's Lady of the Pavements with Lupe Vélez, Edwin Carewe's Evangeline with Dolores del Río, and Rupert Julian's The Phantom of the Opera with Mary Philbin and Virginia Pearson.[citation needed]

The Silent MovieSound and MelodyArchive digitizes melodyand cue sheets written for silent movieand makes it accessiblefor utilizeby performers, scholars, and enthusiasts.

Acting techniques

Lillian Gish, the "First Lady of the American Cinema", was a leading star in the silent era with one of the longest careers—1912 to 1987.

Silent-movieactors emphasized body language and facial expression so that the audience could better understand what an actor was feeling and portraying on screen. Much silent movieacting is apt to strike modern-day audiences as simplistic or campy. The melodramatic acting style was in some cases a habit actors transferred from their former stage experience. Vaudeville was an especially famousorigin for many American silent movieactors. The pervading presence of stage actors in moviewas the cause of this outburst from director Marshall Neilan in 1917: "The sooner the stage people who have come into pictures receiveout, the better for the pictures." In other cases, directors such as John Griffith Wray neededtheir actors to deliver huge-than-life expressions for emphasis. As early as 1914, American viewers had begun to make known their preference for greater naturalness on screen.

Silent movie became less vaudevillian in the mid-1910s, as the differences between stage and screen became apparent. Due to the work of directors such as D. W. Griffith, cinematography became less stage-like, and the development of the close up permittedfor understated and realistic acting. Lillian Gish has been called movies "first true actress" for her work in the period, as she pioneered freshmovieperforming techniques, recognizing the crucial differences between stage and screen acting. Directors such as Albert Capellani and Maurice Tourneur began to insist on naturalism in their movie. By the mid-1920s many American silent movie had adopted a more naturalistic acting style, though not all actors and directors accepted naturalistic, low-key acting straight away; as late as 1927, movie featuring expressionistic acting styles, such as Metropolis, were still being released. Greta Garbo, who angry her debut in 1926, would become known for her naturalistic acting.

According to Anton Kaes, a silent moviescholar from the University of California, Berkeley, American silent cinema began to see a shift in acting techniques between 1913 and 1921, influenced by techniques found in German silent film. This is mainly attributed to the influx of emigrants from the Weimar Republic, "including moviedirectors, producers, cameramen, lighting and stage technicians, as well as actors and actresses".

Projection speed

Until the standardization of the projection speed of 24 frames per second (fps) for sound movie between 1926 and 1930, silent movie were shot at variable speeds (or "frame rates") anywhere from 12 to 40 fps, depending on the year and studio. "Standard silent moviespeed" is often said to be 16 fps as a effectof the Lumière brothers' Cinématographe, but industry practice varied considerably; there was no actual standard. William Kennedy Laury Dickson, an Edison employee, settled on the astonishingly quick40 frames per second. Additionally, cameramen of the era insisted that their cranking technique was exactly 16 fps, but modern examination of the movie present this to be in error, that they often cranked faster. Unless carefully present at their intended speeds silent movie shouldappear unnaturally quickor slow. However, some scenes were intentionally undercranked during shooting to accelerate the action—particularly for comedies and action movie.

Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France. Such cameras had no audio recording devices built into the cameras.

Slow projection of a cellulose nitrate base moviecarried a risk of fire, as each frame was exposed for a longer time to the intense heat of the projection lamp; but there were other reasons to project a movieat a greater pace. Often projectionists get general instructions from the distributors on the musical director's cue sheet as to how quickparticular reels or scenes canbe projected. In rare instances, usually for huge productions, cue sheets produced specifically for the projectionist delivereda detailed tutorialto presenting the film. Theaters also—to maximize profit—sometimes varied projection speeds depending on the time of day or popularity of a film, or to fit a movieinto a prescribed time slot.

All motion-picture movieprojectors require a moving shutter to block the light whilst the movieis moving, otherwise the photois smeared in the direction of the movement. However this shutter causes the phototo flicker, and photo with low rates of flicker are very unpleasant to watch. Early studies by Thomas Edison for his Kinetoscope machine determined that any rate below 46 photo per second "will strain the eye". and this keep true for projected photo under normal cinema conditions also. The solution adopted for the Kinetoscope was to run the movieat over 40 frames/sec, but this was expensive for film. However, by using projectors with dual- and triple-blade shutters the flicker rate is multiplied two or three times higher than the number of movieframes — each frame being flashed two or three times on screen. A three-blade shutter projecting a 16 fps moviewill slightly surpass Edison's figure, giving the audience 48 photo per second. During the silent era projectors were commonly fitted with 3-bladed shutters. Since the introduction of sound with its 24 frame/sec standard speed 2-bladed shutters have become the norm for 35 mm cinema projectors, though three-bladed shutters have remained standard on 16 mm and 8 mm projectors, which are frequently utilize to project amateur footage shot at 16 or 18 frames/sec. A 35 mm movieframe rate of 24 fps translates to a moviespeed of 456 millimetres (18.0 in) per second. One 1,000-foot (300 m) reel requires 11 minutes and 7 seconds to be projected at 24 fps, while a 16 fps projection of the same reel would take 16 minutes and 40 seconds, or 304 millimetres (12.0 in) per second.

In the 1950s, many telecine conversions of silent movie at grossly incorrect frame rates for broadcast television may have alienated viewers. Moviespeed is often a vexed problemamong scholars and moviebuffs in the presentation of silents today, especially when it comes to DVD releases of restored movie, such as the case of the 2002 restoration of Metropolis.


A scene from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari starring Friedrich Feher—an example of an amber-tinted film

With the lack of natural color processing available, movie of the silent era were frequently dipped in dyestuffs and dyed various shades and hues to signal a mood or represent a time of day. Hand tinting dates back to 1895 in the United States with Edison's release of chosenhand-tinted prints of Butterfly Dance. Additionally, experiments in color moviestarted as early as in 1909, although it took a much longer time for color to be adopted by the industry and an effective process to be developed. Blue represented night scenes, yellow or amber meant day. Red represented fire and green represented a mysterious atmosphere. Similarly, toning of film (such as the common silent moviegeneralization of sepia-toning) with special solutions replaced the silver particles in the moviestock with salts or dyes of various colors. A combination of tinting and toning could be utilize as an resultthat could be striking.

Some movie were hand-tinted, such as Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1894), from Edison Studios. In it, Annabelle Whitford, a young dancer from Broadway, is dressed in white veils that appear to modifycolors as she dances. This technique was plannedto capture the resultof the live performances of Loie Fuller, beginning in 1891, in which stage lights with colored gels turned her white flowing dresses and sleeves into artistic movement. Hand coloring was often utilize in the early "trick" and fantasy movie of Europe, especially those by Georges Méliès. Méliès began hand-tinting his work as early as 1897 and the 1899 Cendrillion (Cinderella) and 1900 Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) provide early examples of hand-tinted movie in which the color was a critical part of the scenography or mise en scène; such precise tinting utilize the workshop of Elisabeth Thuillier in Paris, with squad of female artists adding layers of color to each frame by hand rather than using a more common (and less expensive) process of stenciling. A newly restored version of Méliès' A Trip to the Moon, originally released in 1902, present an exuberant utilizeof color plannedto add texture and interest to the image.

Comments by an American distributor in a 1908 film-supply catalog further underscore France's continuing dominance in the field of hand-coloring movie during the early silent era. The distributor offers for sale at varying prices "High-Class" motion pictures by Pathé, Urban-Eclipse, Gaumont, Kalem, Itala Film, Ambrosio Film, and Selig. Several of the longer, more prestigious movie in the catalog are offered in both standard black-and-white "plain stock" as well as in "hand-painted" color. A plain-stock copy, for example, of the 1907 release Ben Hur is offered for $120 ($3,456 USD today), while a colored version of the same 1000-foot, 15-minute moviecosts $270 ($7,777) including the extra $150 coloring charge, which amounted to 15 cents more per foot. Although the reasons for the cited extra charge were likely obvious to customers, the distributor explains why his catalog's colored movie command such significantly higher prices and require more time for delivery. His explanation also provides insight into the general state of film-coloring services in the United States by 1908:

Price for a hand-colored print of Ben Hur in 1908

The coloring of moving picture movie is a line of work which cannot be satisfactorily performed in the United States. In view of the enormous amount of labor involved which calls for individual hand painting of every one of sixteen pictures to the foot or 16,000 separate pictures for each 1,000 feet of movievery few American colorists will undertake the work at any price.
As moviecoloring has progressed much more rapidly in France than in any other country, all of our coloring is done for us by the best coloring establishment in Paris and we have found that we obtain better quality, cheaper prices and quicker deliveries, even in coloring American angry movie, than if the work were done elsewhere.

By the beginning of the 1910s, with the onset of feature-length movie, tinting was utilize as another mood setter, just as commonplace as music. The director D. W. Griffith displayed a constant interest and concern about color, and utilize tinting as a special resultin many of his movie. His 1915 epic, The Birth of a Nation, utilize a number of colors, including amber, blue, lavender, and a striking red tint for scenes such as the "burning of Atlanta" and the ride of the Ku Klux Klan at the climax of the picture. Griffith later invented a color system in which colored lights flashed on location of the screen to achieve a color.

With the development of sound-on-movietechnology and the industry's acceptance of it, tinting was abandoned altogether, because the dyes utilize in the tinting process interfered with the soundtracks showon moviestrips.

Early studios

The early studios were located in the FreshYork Townarea. Edison Studios were first in West Orange, FreshJersey (1892), they were moved to the Bronx, FreshYork (1907). Fox (1909) and Biograph (1906) started in Manhattan, with studios in St George, Staten Island. Others movie were shot in Fort Lee, FreshJersey. In December 1908, Edison led the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to control the industry and shut out smaller producers. The "Edison Trust", as it was nicknamed, was angry up of Edison, Biograph, Essanay Studios, Kalem Company, George Kleine Productions, Lubin Studios, Georges Méliès, Pathé, Selig Studios, and Vitagraph Studios, and dominated distribution through the General MovieCompany. This organizationdominated the industry as both a vertical and horizontal monopoly and is a contributing factor in studios' migration to the West Coast. The Motion Picture Patents Co. and the General MovieCo. were found guilty of antitrust violation in October 1915, and were dissolved.

The Thanhouser moviestudio was founded in FreshRochelle, FreshYork, in 1909 by American theatrical impresario Edwin Thanhouser. The organizationproduced and released 1,086 movie between 1910 and 1917, including the first movieserial ever, The Million Dollar Mystery, released in 1914. The first westerns were filmed at Fred Scott's FilmRanch in South Beach, Staten Island. Actors costumed as cowboys and Native Americans galloped across Scott's filmranch set, which had a frontier main street, a wide selection of stagecoaches and a 56-foot stockade. The island delivereda serviceable stand-in for area as varied as the Sahara desert and a British cricket pitch. War scenes were shot on the plains of Grasmere, Staten Island. The Perils of Pauline and its even more famoussequel The Exploits of Elaine were filmed largely on the island. So was the 1906 blockbuster Life of a Cowboy, by Edwin S. Porter Company and filming moved to the West Coast around 1912.

Top-grossing silent movie in the United States

Poster for The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Poster for Ben-Hur (1925)

The following are American movie from the silent movieera that had earned the highest gross income as of 1932. The amounts given are gross rentals (the distributor's share of the box-office) as opposed to exhibition gross.

Title Year Director(s) Gross rental
The Birth of a Nation 1915 D. W. Griffith $10,000,000
The GiganticParade 1925 LordVidor $6,400,000
Ben-Hur 1925 Fred Niblo $5,500,000
The Kid 1921 Charlie Chaplin $5,450,000
MethodDown East 1920 D. W. Griffith $5,000,000
TownLights 1931 Charlie Chaplin $4,300,000
The Gold Rush 1925 Charlie Chaplin $4,250,000
The Circus 1928 Charlie Chaplin $3,800,000
The Covered Wagon 1923 James Cruze $3,800,000
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Wallace Worsley $3,500,000
The Ten Commandments 1923 Cecil B. DeMille $3,400,000
Orphans of the Storm 1921 D. W. Griffith $3,000,000
For Heaven's Sake 1926 Sam Taylor $2,600,000
The Streetto Ruin 1928 Norton S. Parker $2,500,000
7th Heaven 1928 Frank Borzage $2,500,000
What Price Glory? 1926 Raoul Walsh $2,400,000
Abie's Irish Rose 1928 Victor Fleming $1,500,000

During the sound era


Although attempts to create sync-sound motion pictures go back to the Edison lab in 1896, only from the early 1920s were the primarytechnologies such as vacuum tube amplifiers and high-quality loudspeakers available. The next few years saw a race to design, implement, and market several rival sound-on-disc and sound-on-film sound formats, such as Photokinema (1921), Phonofilm (1923), Vitaphone (1926), Fox Movietone (1927) and RCA Photophone (1928).

Warner Bros. was the first studio to agreesound as an element in movieproduction and useVitaphone, a sound-on-disc technology, to do so. The studio then released The Jazz Singer in 1927, which marked the first commercially successful sound film, but silent movie were still the majority of features released in both 1927 and 1928, along with so-called goat-glanded movie: silents with a subsection of sound movieinserted. Thus the modern sound movieera may be regarded as coming to dominance beginning in 1929.

For a listing of notable silent era movie, see List of years in film for the years between the beginning of movieand 1928. The following list contain only movie produced in the sound era with the specific artistic intention of being silent.

Later homages

Several filmmakers have paid homage to the comedies of the silent era, including Charlie Chaplin, with Modern Times (1936), Orson Welles with Too Much Johnson (1938), Jacques Tati with Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953), Pierre Etaix with The Suitor (1962), and Mel Brooks with Silent Movie (1976). Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's acclaimed drama Three Times (2005) is silent during its middle third, complete with intertitles; Stanley Tucci's The Impostors has an opening silent sequence in the style of early silent comedies. Brazilian filmmaker Renato Falcão's Margarette's Feast (2003) is silent. Writer / Director Michael Pleckaitis puts his own twist on the genre with Silent (2007). While not silent, the Mr. Bean television series and film have utilize the title heros non-talkative nature to create a similar style of humor. A lesser-known example is Jérôme Savary's La fille du garde-barrière (1975), an homage to silent-era movie that utilize intertitles and blends comedy, drama, and explicit sex scenes (which led to it being refused a cinema certificate by the British Board of MovieClassification).

In 1990, Charles Lane directed and starred in Sidewalk Stories, a low budget salute to sentimental silent comedies, particularly Charlie Chaplin's The Kid.

The German film Tuvalu (1999) is mostly silent; the tinyamount of dialog is an odd mix of European languages, increasing the movies universality. Guy Maddin won awards for his homage to Soviet era silent movie with his short The Heart of the World after which he angry a feature-length silent, Brand Upon the Brain! (2006), incorporating live Foley artists, narration and orchestra at chooseshowings. Shadow of the Vampire (2000) is a highly fictionalized depiction of the filming of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's classic silent vampire movie Nosferatu (1922). Werner Herzog honored the same moviein his own version, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979).

Some movie draw a direct contrast between the silent movieera and the era of talkies. Sunset Boulevard present the disconnect between the two eras in the heroof Norma Desmond, played by silent moviestar Gloria Swanson, and Singin' in the Rain deals with Hollywood artists adjusting to the talkies. Peter Bogdanovich's 1976 film Nickelodeon deals with the turmoil of silent filmmaking in Hollywood during the early 1910s, leading up to the release of D. W. Griffith's epic The Birth of a Nation (1915).

In 1999, the Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki produced Juha in black-and-white, which captures the style of a silent film, using intertitles in territoryof spoken dialogue. Special release prints with titles in several different languages were produced for international distribution. In India, the film Pushpak (1988), starring Kamal Hassan, was a black comedy entirely devoid of dialog. The Australian film Doctor Plonk (2007), was a silent comedy directed by Rolf de Heer. Stage plays have drawn upon silent moviestyles and sources. Actor/writers Billy Van Zandt & Jane Milmore staged their Off-Broadway slapstick comedy Silent Laughter as a live action tribute to the silent screen era. Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford madeand starred in All Wear Bowlers (2004), which started as an homage to Laurel and Hardy then evolved to incorporate life-sized silent moviesequences of Sobelle and Lyford who jump back and forth between live action and the silver screen. The animated film Fantasia (1940), which is eight different animation sequences set to music, shouldbe considered a silent film, with only one short scene involving dialogue. The espionage film The Thief (1952) has melodyand sound result, but no dialogue, as do Thierry Zéno's 1974 Vase de Noces and Patrick Bokanowski's 1982 The Angel.

In 2005, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society produced a silent movieversion of Lovecraft's story The Call of Cthulhu. This moviemaintained a period-accurate filming style, and was get as both "the best HPL adaptation to date" and, referring to the decision to make it as a silent movie, "a brilliant conceit".

The French film The Artist (2011), written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, plays as a silent movieand is set in Hollywood during the silent era. It also contain segments of fictitious silent movie starring its protagonists.

The Japanese vampire film Sanguivorous (2011) is not only done in the style of a silent film, but even toured with live orchestral accompiment. Eugene Chadbourne has been among those who have played live melodyfor the film.

Blancanieves is a 2012 Spanish black-and-white silent fantasy drama moviewritten and directed by Pablo Berger.

The American feature-length silent film Silent Life started in 2006, features performances by Isabella Rossellini and Galina Jovovich, mother of Milla Jovovich, will premiere in 2013. The movieis based on the life of the silent screen icon Rudolph Valentino, known as the Hollywood's first "AmazingLover". After the emergency surgery, Valentino loses his grip of reality and launch to see the recollection of his life in Hollywood from a perspective of a coma – as a silent moviepresent at a filmpalace, the magical portal between life and eternity, between reality and illusion.

The Picnic is a 2012 short movieangry in the style of two-reel silent melodramas and comedies. It was part of the exhibit, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, a 2018-2019 exhibit curated by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The moviewas present inside a miniature 12-seat Art Deco filmpalace on wheels called The Capitol Theater, madeby Oakland, Ca. art collective Five Ton Crane.

Right There is a 2013 short moviethat is an homage to silent moviecomedies.

The 2015 British animated film Shaun the Sheep Movie based on Shaun the Sheep was released to positive reviews and was a box office success. Aardman Animations also produced Morph and Timmy Time as well as many other silent short movie.

The American Theatre Organ Society pays homage to the melodyof silent movie, as well as the theatre organs that played such music. With over 75 local chapters, the companyseeks to preserve and promote theater organs and music, as an art form.

The WorldInternational Silent MovieFestival (GISFF) is an annual happeningfocusing on photoand atmosphere in cinema which takes territoryin a reputable university or academic environment every year and is a platform for showcasing and judging movie from filmmakers who are active in this field. In 2018 moviedirector Christopher Annino shot the now internationally award-winning feature silent movieof its kind Silent Times. The moviegives homage to many of the hero from the 1920s including Officer Keystone played by David Blair, and Enzio Marchello who portrays a Charlie Chaplin character. Silent Times has won best silent movieat the Oniros MovieFestival. Set in a tinyFreshEngland town, the story centers on Oliver Henry III (played by Westerly native Geoff Blanchette), a small-time crook turned vaudeville theater owner. From humble beginnings in England, he immigrates to the US in findof happiness and quickcash. He becomes acquainted with people from all walks of life, from burlesque performers, mimes, hobos to classy flapper girls, as his fortunes rise and his life spins ever more out of control.

Preservation and lost movie

A still from Saved from the Titanic (1912), which featured survivors of the disaster. It is now among those considered a lost film.

The vast majority of the silent movie produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are considered lost. According to a September 2013 report published by the United States Library of Congress, some 70 percent of American silent feature movie fall into this category. There are numerous reasons for this number being so high. Some movie have been lost unintentionally, but most silent movie were destroyed on purpose. Between the end of the silent era and the rise of home video, moviestudios would often discard hugenumbers of silent movie out of a desire to free up storage in their archives, assuming that they had lost the cultural relevance and economic value to justify the amount of zonethey occupied. Additionally, due to the fragile nature of the nitrate moviestock which was utilize to shoot and distribute silent movie, many motion pictures have irretrievably deteriorated or have been lost in accidents, including fires (because nitrate is highly flammable and shouldspontaneously combust when shop improperly). Examples of such incidents containthe 1965 MGM vault fire and the 1937 Fox vault fire, both of which incited catastrophic losses of movie. Many such movie not completely destroyed survive only partially, or in badly damaged prints. Some lost movie, such as London After Midnight (1927), lost in the MGM fire, have been the topicof considerable interest by moviecollectors and historians.

Major silent movie presumed lost include:

Though most lost silent movie will never be recovered, some have been discovered in moviearchives or personalcollections. Discovered and preserved versions may be editions angry for the home rental market of the 1920s and 1930s that are discovered in estate sales, etc. The degradation of old moviestock shouldbe slowed through proper archiving, and movie shouldbe transferred to securitymoviestock or to digital media for preservation. The preservation of silent movie has been a high priority for historians and archivists.

Dawson MovieFind

Dawson City, in the Yukon placeof Canada, was once the end of the distribution line for many movie. In 1978, a cache of more than 500 reels of nitrate moviewas discovered during the excavation of a vacant lot formerly the pageof the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association, which had started showing movie at their recreation centre in 1903. Works by Pearl White, Helen Holmes, Grace Cunard, Lois Weber, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, and Lon Chaney, among others, were contain, as well as many newsreels. The titles were shop at the local library until 1929 when the flammable nitrate was utilize as landfill in a condemned swimming pool. Having spent 50 years under the permafrost of the Yukon, the reels turned out to be extremely well preserved. Owing to its riskychemical volatility, the historical searchwas moved by military transport to Library and Archives Canada and the US Library of Congress for storage (and transfer to securityfilm). A documentary about the find, Dawson City: Frozen Time was released in 2016.

See also



  • Bromberg, Serge; Lang, Eric (directors) (2012). The Extraordinary Voyage (DVD). MKS/Steamboat Movie.
  • Brownlow, Kevin (1968a). The Parade's Gone By... FreshYork: Alfred A. Knopf.
  •  ———  (1968b). The People on the Brook. FreshYork: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Cook, David A. (1990). A History of Narrative Film (2nd ed.). FreshYork: W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-95553-8.
  • Current, Richard Nelson; Current, Marcia Ewing (1997). . Boston: Northeastern University Press. ISBN 978-1-55553-309-0.
  • Eyman, Scott (1997). . FreshYork: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-81162-8.
  • Kaes, Anton (1990). "Silent Cinema". Monatshefte. 82 (3): 246–256. ISSN 1934-2810. JSTOR 30155279.
  • Kobel, Peter (2007). Silent Film: The Birth of Movieand the Triumph of FilmCulture (1st ed.). FreshYork: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-11791-3.
  • Kula, Sam (1979). . Archivaria. Association of Canadian Archivists (8): 141–148. ISSN 1923-6409. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • Lewis, John (2008). American Film: A History (1st ed.). FreshYork: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-97922-0.
  • Marks, Martin Miller (1997). Melodyand the Silent Film: Contexts and Case Studies, 1895–1924. FreshYork: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-506891-7.
  • Morrison, Bill (2016). Dawson City: Frozen Time. KinoLorber.
  • Musser, Charles (1990). The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907. FreshYork: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Parkinson, David (1996). . FreshYork: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-20277-7.
  • Read, Paul; Meyer, Mark-Paul, eds. (2000). Restoration of Motion Picture Film. Conservation and Museology. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-7506-2793-1.
  • Slide, Anthony (2000). Nitrate Won't Wait: A History of MoviePreservation in the United States. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-0836-8.
  • Standish, Isolde (2006). A FreshHistory of Japanese Cinema: A Century of Narrative Film. FreshYork: Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-1790-9.
  • Thompson, Frank T. (1996). Lost Movie: NecessaryFilm That Disappeared. FreshYork: Carol Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8065-1604-2.

Further reading

  • Brownlow, Kevin (1980). . FreshYork: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-394-50851-1.
  • Corne, Jonah (2011). "Gods and Nobodies: Extras, the October Jubilee, and Von Sternberg's The Last Command". MovieInternational. 9 (6). ISSN 1651-6826.
  • Davis, Lon (2008). Silent Lives. Albany, FreshYork: BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-124-7.
  • Everson, William K. (1978). . FreshYork: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-502348-0.
  • Mallozzi, Vincent M. (February 14, 2009). . The FreshYork Times. p. A35. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  • Stevenson, Diane (2011). "Three Versions of Stella Dallas". MovieInternational. 9 (6). ISSN 1651-6826.
  • Toles, George (2011). "Cocoon of Fire: Awakening to Love in Murnau's Sunrise". MovieInternational. 9 (6). ISSN 1651-6826.
  • Usai, Paolo Cherchi (2000). Silent Cinema: An Introduction (2nd ed.). London: British MovieInstitute. ISBN 978-0-85170-745-7.

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