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Silent Cinema

Silent Cinema

Many moviegoers think the silent era ended with the advent of sound. Yet cinema history is not so simple. While Al Jolson’s first performance in 1927’s The Jazz Singer was certainly a shot heard round the world, some film artists chose to stick with the quiet old ways for a while, and some national cinemas were slower to adopt the new talking-picture technology than others. As a result—and as demonstrated by the silent films in the Criterion Collection—presound cinema extended into the thirties, for financial and cultural reasons (in Japan, for instance, silent and sound films coexisted until 1938, out of necessity and popularity) or aesthetic ones (Charlie Chaplin was still perfecting the art of silent comedy in 1936’s partly sound Modern Times). Investigate Criterion’s collection of nontalkies, which includes groundbreaking early works from such legends as Cocteau, DeMille, Dreyer, Micheaux, Ozu, Pabst, Sternberg, and more!