Rise and Fall and Rise of Silent Films

I’ve not seen that many of them, but I am quite fond of silent films. Nosferatu is a film I really enjoy and it has several scenes which remain quite creepy to this day. Metropolis gives us us a weird view of the future from the perspective of the 1920s and it’s one of the most bizarre films I’ve ever watched. There’s a certain mystique to silent films that I really appreciate.

Of course, as good as silent movies can be, those with sound are much, much better. Simply hearing a person’s voice does so much more to humanise them and to help us to feel their emotions. I’m sure that in, say, the 1960s people would have said that silent films don’t have a future. How and why would they ever come back after becoming what is essentially an obsolete art form?

Well, it’s funny because silent films are back – although they’ve taken a very different form. We all know that Facebook automatically starts playing videos silently when you scroll through your newsfeed and as much as some of them may implore people to turn the volume on, most people won’t. What this means is that it’s the videos which can be enjoyed silently which are the most popular and they’ll often have little bits of text on screen – much like how a silent film would have the odd bit of text. It’s an interesting parallel I think, as content creators of today may well begin following the same conventions of silent film makers of 100 years ago.

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