Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Written Review: Greed

Greed was a very good silent film. I thoroughly enjoyed the direction from von Stroheim and the cinematography. The acting was also much better than any silent film I’ve watched so far. All-in-all this was another surprisingly enjoyable silent film.
One of the best parts of Greed was the acting and, by extension, the direction. Since von Stroheim came from Germany, where the filmmaking was in a further state of maturity than in America, he knew that having actors flail around like mentally handicapped children trying to get your attention was not the always the best choice. Many of the actors used subtle body language and facial expression to convey emotion. I could see the evolution of film acting beginning to gain traction.
In addition, the cinematography was fantastic. Von Stroheim and his cinematographer obviously brought over what they had learned in the German expressionist movement to American cinema. They use of shadows in Greed was, just like Nosferatu, was a beautiful thing to look at.
In addition to all of this the “script” was actually tolerable. Most of the time I found the text slides in most silent films are written with the skill of a toddler. However, one can see Stroheim moving towards using more real text as opposed to the absolutely atrocious dialogue Griffith used in Intolerance. I actually didn’t wince each time a slide was presented.
The story itself, an adaptation of Frank Norris’ novel McTeague, was fascinating. I found that while most films, such as Intolerance, had a rather uninteresting and bland plot, Greed’s story actually sucked me in at many points.
I think Greed was a very important film because it made great steps forward for filmmaking. It brought German expressionism to the American cinema, made vast improvements in the craft of film acting, and made great leaps in the area of writing in film.

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