I’m still on my short silent films obsession, and have watched four more since my previous post. Just like before, I’ll post a quick paragraph review for each. I’ve been finding a lot of gems in this binge-watch of a very specific nature. Plus all this talk of shorts is reminding me of this guy, which can’t be a bad thing.
Mannus Franken, Joris Ivens, 15 minutes
Regen is the portrait of a rainy city in short film format. Filmed in Amsterdam, it follows the course of a day as the rain begins, gets heavier and heavier, and then subsides. Watching the rain amongst the city is quite beautiful and relaxing, especially with the music paired with the film. We see wet roads, raindrops on the canals, people and their umbrellas, and there are no characters apart from the rain itself. I wonder if this film can be symbolically interpreted as a metaphor for life’s hardships. The rain comes and goes just as tough times might come and go. Even though I normally prefer ‘weird’ silent films, I really loved this one. Shout out to Davide for suggesting I watch this, you’re right, it really is very poetic!
Ralph Steiner, 12 minutes
Whilst Regen was about rain, H2O is about water in all forms. Waterfalls, sea, rain, rivers, gushing out of pipes. You’d think that watching just water for 12 minutes would be boring, but I found this captivating, particularly the section of the film that seemed to focus on reflections. The music was also excellent and seemed to capture the mood of the different types of water on the screen. I think you might have to have a good attention span to watch this in one go, but I really liked it. It’s an interesting and hypnotic study of something that we might take for granted in our modern lives.
A Bronx Morning (1931)
Jay Leyda, 11 minutes
The study of a city’s work and people, A Bronx Morning is a short that on the surface doesn’t seem to have much purpose other than showing the details of life in the Bronx. The film first shows the entry into the area of the city by train. Then, we are shown the way people work and live. Many different shops are shown, but the focus is on what people are doing rather than who the people are. My personal favourite sequence was where we’re shown ‘how people live’ in the Bronx – ‘live’ is interpreted literally, and we’re shown many different windows, doors, stoops, and fire escapes. The film isn’t afraid to show the gritty side of the Bronx, and the mundane side of life in the city, as opposed to other films that might glamourise it. I think this film’s best quality is that it’s preserved a very different way of life, for future generations to see.
Autumn Fire (1931)
Herman G. Weinberg, 15 minutes
This film captured me as soon as it began. Autumn Fire is the story of two lovers stuck in separate places; he is in the city, and she is in the country. Both people seem to be contemplating their situation. Will they ever meet again? At the beginning of the film, Weinberg describes it as a “film poem”, to which I completely agree. The film seems to be constructed in the form of a visual poem about love and loneliness, with a particular focus on the sadness and isolation of the young woman. I won’t spoil the end, but I will say that the film is entirely worth seeing for the construction of shots toward the end. A superbly executed film.