Encyclopedia > Silent film

  Article Content

Silent film

Before the advent of the sound films (called the 'talkies'), there was only silent film. The years before sound came to the movies are known as the "silent era" among film scholars and historians. The art of motion pictures grew into full maturity before the silents were replaced by "talking pictures," and a number of film buffs believe the quality of the cinema actually decreased for a few years, before the new medium of sound was adapted to the movies.

Since the films could not take advantage of synchronized sound for dialogue, titles were edited in to clarify the on-screen situation to the cinema audience or add critical dialog.

Showings of silent films usually were not actually silent: they were commonly accompanied by live music. Early in the development of the motion picture industry, it was learned that music was an essential part of any movie, as it gave the audience emotional cues for the action taking place on the screen. Small town and neighborhood movie theaters usually had a pianist accompany the film; large city theaters would have entire orchestras.

The medium of silent film required a greater emphasis on body language and facial expression, so that the audience could better understand what an actor was feeling and portraying on screen. Modern-day audiences who are not used to this form of acting may be uncomfortable watching films from the silent era, because the actors in these films may seem to be overacting to an outrageous degree. Because of this, silent comedies tend to be more popular in the modern era than drama, because overacting is a natural form of comedy.

Literally thousands of silent films were made in the years leading through the inroduction of sound, but a considerable number of those films (historians estimate between 80 and 90 percent) have been lost forever. Movies of the first half of the 20th century were filmed on an unstable, highly flamable nitrate film stock, which required careful preservation to keep from decomposing over time. Most of these films were not preserved; over the years, their prints simply crumbled into dust. Many of them were recycled, and a sizable number were destroyed in studio fires. As a result, silent film preservation[?] has been a high priority among movie historians.

Some notable silent films

With director and year of release:



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
 
 
  
  Featured Article
Bird

... within the proctodeum[?] compartment within the cloaca, just inside the vent. The avian phallus differs from the mammalian penis in several ways, most importantly tha ...