NEW SILENT CINEMA: IT’S ALIVE!

Photo on 12-10-2015 at 16.58 #3

I am delighted to announce the publication of New Silent Cinema, a collection I co-edited with my fantastic colleague, Paul Flaig. The book features essays by a group of outstanding screen scholars–including Constance BalidesJames Leo CahillBrianne Cohen, Jonah CorneBrian JacobsonRob KingJennifer PetersonBrian Price, Catherine Russell, Yiman Wang, and Joshua Yumibe–as well as interviews with Paolo Cherchi Usai, Rick Altman, and Guy Maddin. We are especially grateful to Guy Maddin, who not only allowed us to publish several beautiful images from his ongoing Séances project, but also gave us permission to use an image from his most recent film, The Forbidden Room (2015), for our cover.

New Silent Cinema explores the recent wave of interest in silent cinema as it stretches across popular and avant-garde film, contemporary art, literature, and new media. The introduction is available to peruse here. Paul and I will soon post a conversation about the development of the project, the many examples of “New Silent Cinema” that did not make it into the collection, and the diverse directions that our contributors took in examining this contemporary phenomenon. We are very grateful to everyone who supported the project–and look forward to hearing from readers!

NEW SILENT CINEMA: SODERBURGH EDITION

For the purposes of studying what he calls “staging,” Steven Soderburgh has released a black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981). He has also removed the film’s original sound/dialogue and replaced it with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtrack to the Social Network (Fincher 2010). He writes:

I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount.

Soderburgh describes this project as a process that simplifies the image, strips it down. The assumption here is that black-and-white images and contingent sound allow viewers to concentrate their minds (on staging…). However, there’s nothing all that simple about this audio-visual concoction, which brings the tools of silent cinema together with the golden age of the Hollywood blockbuster and the sounds of its collapse in the era of social media.

WHICH MOVIE IS NOW ON THE SCREEN?

Silent Paper Movie II (Geronimo Elortegui, 2011)

Classical Hollywood gets the silent paper treatment.  I have watched this short film half a dozen times now and still have no idea who speaks when, to whom, etc.  Silent Paper plays with the problems that language and translation pose to the image, particularly in the silent era.