Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Silent Films Need to Come Back NOW!

Cinema has existed for well over a century.  During that time we have made some pretty impressive advances.  However, it is almost universally accepted that progress does not mean that we should reject some of cinema's older forms. 

For example, we have had color since The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.  Most films today are fine in color but there are some movies such as Schindler's List, The Man Who Wasn't There, Manhattan and Ed Wood that choose to be black white either for artistic reasons, homages to older films or just because they look better that way.  Just because we have color film doesn't mean that it should always be used.

The same is true with dialogue.  It is time that silent films come back to modern cinemas.

There are countless ridiculously wonderful silent movies out there that many people will miss just because they've never seen a silent film before and assume they wouldn't like it. 

 (Watch this if you want to know
where Tim Burtin Came from.)

And in 2012 there was this:

It was the first silent film to win best picture since Wings (1927).  It currently holds a 98% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it made over $44 million domestic.  That isn't all that much money in the big scheme of things but it does show that there are people out there willing to watch movies without audible dialogue.  

However, The Artist is not the movie to convince me that silent films need to make a comeback.  No, that honor goes to this little gem:

And the really sick part is I'M NOT JOKING!  I know you're reading this thinking, "Silly Mike is just making fun of Hollywood's bad dialogue" but I legitimately believe that Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon would have been a better movie if it had been silent.  There is no way the director, producers, studio or most of the audience would have gone through with it but I still stand strong that it would have been a better movie. 

Reason 1:  Michael Bay is not Quentin Tarantino.  The dialogue in this film did not add to the quality of the story.  In fact it did nothing but detract.  Taking out all the movie's dialogue would have removed the movie's biggest flaw.  There was nothing clever, exciting or witty about what the characters had to say.

(Unless you think that racist robots are witty)

Reason 2:  No one went to this movie for the dialogue.  We went to see giant robots bash each other into pulp and destroy a downtown metropolis.  This is something that crosses all language barriers.  Let's be honest, Transformers 3 would have barely needed dialogue cards. 

Reason 3:  Dialogue is really not as important in movies as most modern filmgoers believe. Transformers 3's plot is pretty straight forward.  There have been MUCH better movies with considerably more subtle, complex emotions/relationships and significantly less dialogue.

(Don't believe me?  You've obviously never seen
this movie.)

Reason 4:  People adore characters who let you know exactly what they're thinking without them actually saying, "Hey bro!  This is what I'm thinking!"  Some of cinema's most lovable characters have never said a word.  For example:  which of the following characters would you rather go out drinking with?

I rest my case. 

Okay, I'm not stupid.  Unless we slip into Wackyland we aren't going to be getting any mega budget silent films ever again.  That's just one example of how Hollywood is biting itself in the ass.  Dialogue is almost always a mess in big budget film.  I'm not saying that every movie should be silent.  I'm just saying that a lot would benefit from the change.    If audiences and film makers were just a little more open minded the Transformers franchise might not have been that unwatchable.


  1. Hey! Welcome back! Good argument - I'm convinced. :) I've actually never watched a silent film, unless you count this very unusual cartoon, The Triplets of Belleville, that I watched years and years ago. Sounds like I'll have to check out some of the classics.

  2. Yeah It's been a while. I have been busy working on getting the novel ready for agents. I am sending it back out there again so wish me luck.

    I personally like Modern Times the best. It was made right when the talkies were coming about so there are some speaking roles especially toward the end. But which characters are allowed a voice actually adds to the significance of the film.