Silent films undeservedly get a bad rap today. When most people think of silent films, their first thoughts either go to flickering images of people frantically running around and throwing pies at each other, or to stills of damsels being tied to railroad tracks by mustached villains, or to horrifically racist films, such as D.W. Griffith’s truly disgusting The Birth Of A Nation (1915), where minorities are portrayed as evil manipulators or buffoonish servants. In reality, those stereotypical silent films were extremely rare for their era, and not surprisingly, those images that twirl around in the public’s minds come straight from media made decades after the silent era’s heyday. Plus, those rare examples were always comedies making fun of Victorian-era/dated tropes. Even the racism wasn’t as acceptable back then, as minorities did get upset after unflattering lies appeared in the movies they were watching and they did speak loudly and frequently against such horrible images. There was even an industry of filmmaking made to counter these negative stereotypes, where minority filmmakers took to their cameras and produced films where positive representations were shown.
To help people get a more balanced/complex/interesting understanding of what silent films were really like, I’ve composed a mere list that serves as an introduction for the novice who wants to figuratively time travel back a century ago as well as to learn from what their ancestors still have to say through these precious films.
Silent movies sadly not on Mubi: Panoramic View Of The Morecambe Sea Front (1901), The Peasants’ Lot (1912), The Railway Of Death (1912), Robin Hood (1912), Under The Claw (1912), A Muddy Romance (1913), A Friend In Need (1914), Under Royal Patronage (1914), Bad Buck Of Santa Ynez (1915), The Cossack Whip (1915), Foxtrot Finesse (1915), Antosha Ruined By A Corset (1916), Flirting With Fate (1916), Kidnapped (1917), The Dream-Lady (1918), Polly Of The Circus (1918), Heart Of Wetona (1919), Below The Surface (1920), The Woman In The Suitcase (1920), L’Enfant Du Carnaval (1921), The School For Scandal (1923), The Soul Of The Beast (1923), Tiger Rose (1923), Captain January (1924), Beyond The Border (1925), The Lucky Devil (1925), The Prairie Pirate (1925), Soft Shoes (1925), The Cruise Of The Jasper B (1926), The Charlatan (1929), The Man I Love (1929), Redskin (1929)
Resources that I consulted for this primer: Movies Silently, https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/06/the-100-best-silent-films-of-all-time.html
If you want to learn more about silent movies, I’d highly recommend that you first check out Fritzi Kramer’s awesome website called Movies Silently. The more I say about her site, the more I ruin its charms for you. Instead, go check it out already! You’ll have a blast!Read less