The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 114 – Metropolis

This week on the Silver Emulsion Podcast, Stephen and I talk about Fritz Lang’s monumental silent masterpiece, Metropolis! Listen and enjoy! 🙂

Watch Metropolis along with us on Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Instant Video or iTunes!

Also: the show is on iTunes! So if you feel like subscribing there, or rating/reviewing the show, feel free to share your thoughts!

Music Notes

Intro:

Outro:

  • Pete Townshend – Meher Baba M4 (Signal Box)

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! We’ll include it in a future show!

The podcast is embedded directly below this, or you can go directly to Podbean (or use their app) to listen. If you want to subscribe, paste http://silveremulsion.podbean.com/feed/ into whatever reader you’re using.

Romance of the Western Chamber (1927)

Romance_of_the_Western_Chamber_poster2Romance of the Western Chamber [西廂記] (1927)
AKA Way Down West

Starring Lin Chu-Chu, Ge Cijiang, Li Dandan, Li Huamin, He Minzhuang

Directed by Hou Yao

Expectations: None really, but I’m very interested.


Romance of the Western Chamber is by far the earliest Chinese film I’ve seen, and if it is any indication of the country’s early film output, I wish more films were available. It’s not so much that I loved Romance of the Western Chamber as it is that I was intrigued by it. The film is ostensibly a drama, but the introduction of the villain leads to a couple of martial arts battles, one of which is inside of a dream sequence full of fantasy. According to this write-up, Hou Yau was an acclaimed director in his day, as well as the first Chinese director to utilize special effects. If he only knew what his work would eventually lead to within Chinese cinema!

Chang Kung (Ge Cijiang), a young scholar, comes to stay at a temple on his way to taking the imperial exams. Also staying there is Cui Ying Ying (Lin Chu-Chu), the beautiful daughter of the late Prime Minister, and her mother. As soon as Chang Kung catches sight of Cui Ying Ying he’s hopelessly smitten. His studies suffer as all he can focus on is how to see her again, even resorting to eavesdropping on her conversations and climbing atop a roof to steal a glance.

Continue reading Romance of the Western Chamber (1927) →

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

cabinetofdrcaligari_5The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari] (1920)

Starring Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Rudolf Lettinger

Directed by Robert Wiene

Expectations: Very high. I’ve seen pieces of this many times.

fourstar


The film begins with an older, visibly shaken man telling a younger man about how the spirits all around have driven him out of his home. A wide-eyed women dressed in a flowing white gown emerges in the background and slowly walks up to and past the men without stopping or looking their way. My first thought was that this was a ghost, a representation of what the older man was talking about. But then the younger man says, “That is my fiancee. What she and I have lived through is stranger still than what you have lived through…” So this girl with the blank stare isn’t a ghost, huh? Oh… well, I guess we’re in for a wild story then!

And it’s a story that doesn’t disappoint. That’s not to say everyone will naturally gravitate towards this one, but if you’re at all interested in the foundation of the horror genre or classic film in general, this is a must see. As one of the premiere examples of the German Expressionist film movement, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari holds many wonderful delights, most notably in its set design. Instead of looking normal, everything is skewed and distorted. I don’t know what the traditional interpretation of this is, but my take on it is that because our main character is telling us his story — one of unforgettable peril and terror — his memories of it aren’t exactly perfect. Or maybe we’re seeing the story by venturing inside his head and living inside his fractured memories. Or, better yet, perhaps we’re seeing the story through the imagination of the older man who’s hearing it, creating the visuals in his head from the twisted details given to him by our main character. Whatever it is or was supposed to be, the sets create a fantasy landscape that continues to inspire and influence filmmakers today.

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Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror [Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens] (1922)

Starring Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinz

Directed by F. W. Murnau

Expectations: A favorite from my early film snob era.


Nosferatu still has the power to enthrall, entertain and permeate the room with its creepy tone. 90 years old, the film remains remarkably watchable, a fact attributable to the inspired direction from F.W. Murnau and a truly haunting vampire in Count Orlok (Max Schreck). The images of Orlok ascending the stairs in shadow that climax the film are so pure, simple and affecting that I doubt anyone, even a detractor, could walk away from the film without remembering them for a long time after. I haven’t seen Nosferatu in probably 10–12 years, and I think I appreciate it now more than ever.

The story is essentially a Cliff Notes version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with all the names changed and a considerably quicker pace. But the gist of the story is here, even if everything is shortened and characters are reduced to just the bare essentials. You could even argue that the Van Helsing character is completely superfluous in this telling of the tale (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but I love his scene in the middle of the film showing his students the Venus Fly Trap, so I can forgive this slight issue.

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A Look Back: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

This week I’ll be doing something a little different. This will be the first post in a three-post series where I share my school reports from my first real film class, Film History. These were the first serious writings I did on film, and they offer a look back at the foundations that would eventually lead me to start writing reviews here at Silver Emulsion. I recently found them in a box while preparing to move, and I hope they are as entertaining to you as they are to me (they won’t be). These were written about twelve years ago during the Fall of the year 2000, when I was a spry nineteen years old. I will be re-creating the documents with the same formatting and images to the best of my abilities with the WordPress editor. Also, I’m leaving in any grammar errors or other things that I might want to change. It’s all about posterity and not falling into the George Lucas trap. Anyway, enjoy! Maybe.


“The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928)
A Film by Carl Th. Dreyer

Carl Dreyer once said regarding the close up shot, “The human face is a declaration on the context of the soul and in its delicate shifts, one can read the most delicate nuances of the emotion which words and gestures are incapable of expressing. The significance of cinema as a new art form resides in the ability to reproduce these shifts of facial expressions.” This statement best explains his reasons for filming The Passion of Joan of Arc in the way that he did. The Passion of Joan of Arc is one of the standout films from the silent era, elevating the closeup to new heights. It is one of my favorite films and I feel that it is the most powerful film ever made, even surpassing Battleship Potemkin. I attribute this to the deeply religious nature of the story and the revolutionary visual style contained in the film.

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The General (1926)

The General (1926)

Starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley, Frederick Vroom, Charles Henry Smith, Frank Barnes, Joe Keaton, Mike Donlin, Tom Nawn

Directed by Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton

Expectations: High, I’ve seen this multiple times over the years.


JP from J.P.’s I’m Outta Here Movie Thoughts was kind enough to host an Oscar contest back when those things were going on. I ended up tying with the expert, but JP insisted that I deserved the prize of two DVDs or Blu-Rays of my choice. Can’t argue with hospitality like that! In any case, the first film I selected is Buster Keaton’s 1926 film, The General, as you probably already noticed. So don’t waste any time here, go to JP’s website and check out my review of the film!

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