Documentaries don't get any better than this...,
This review is from: Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, Complete Set 1-13 (1980) (VHS Tape)I first saw this awesome series back in the early eighties, and as a young boy it completely captured my imagination and sense of wonder.
I would have to say this is the definitive history of early Hollywood and film making in general, essential viewing to anyone interested in film and its history, but the amazing thing is this documentary is so well written with such great love and attention to detail that it can easily engross the casual viewer. It is simply compelling stuff.
The greatest thing is this documentary was made in the late 1970's, just as all the amazing stars and behind the scene people were slowly fading away, leaving only their shadow captured in nitrate. They now may be gone, but their spirit lives on through this series.
I feel a secret envy when I listen to the silent stars and crew enthusiastically speaking about what life was like back then, it really was new territory they were treading. The film footage used in the series is great and there are many excerpts of lost/rare films. It's a shame that people think silent cinema is all high speed flickering car chases and cream pies in the face... this series shows how it developed from a primitive side show entertainment to a fully fledged art form capable of crossing cultures all over the world. We think we know about fame today... these early stars were WORLD famous in every sense, thanks to the fact the films they appeared in depended so much more on the actual image and less on the words. Title cards were easily translated.
I think there is one interview that captures it all... during the end of the "Stuntmen" episode, the old stuntman who was interviewed, verging on tears, looks to the interviewer and points to his heart, and says "I wish I could get what is in here, out...." It was if he was saying the times were so magical, that it is impossible to describe how amazing they were.
I love this series... I will get the video sometime soon, but my only question is WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED ON DVD? This has to be re-released! Someone hear our pleas! It's just too good to leave on VHS
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