While perusing the newly added titles that stream on my Netflix account, I came across a film I had not seen before. One from the silent film era. I have always had an appreciation for the artistic expression of silent cinema. I have seen several wonderful works over the years, but there is so much that I have not seen.
The title I found is "Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929), and it stars the stunning Louise Brooks. I had heard of it many years ago, and had made a mental note to see it at that time. Several years later, there it was on Netflix...so on my next insomnia riddled morning, I watched it.
Directed by Austrian, George Wilhelm Pabst, 'Diary' is the second film Louise made with him. ("Pandora's Box" is another big film for her, also directed by Pabst. It's next on my viewing list.) Watching it sparked the desire in me to immerse myself in the watching of more silent films. I mentioned "artistic expression" before. The emoting that actors did in those days. So much needed to be said with the face and the hands, aided with an occasional key card of short dialogue here and there. Yes, much of it is overly exaggerated. The physical movements rife with emotion. Severe make-up and facial gymnastics of many of the performers. The world of the silent film actor is a world I find fascinating. From the first frames of 'Diary', I was pulled into that emotionally dysfunctional world.
**Spoiler Alert**: I am about to get into details of the films' plot, so if you want to see the film and not know what happens...
|("Thymian Henning"~ Louise Brooks)|
|("Meinert"~Fritz Rasp; "Thymian"~Louise Brooks)|
|(Thymian gets a job, and joins the 'world's oldest profession')|
As I watched Thymian go through one emotional tragedy after another, I was reminded of what a 'different' experience it is watching a silent film. A drama. The bulk of what I have watched in the silent vein falls in the category of comedy. Buster Keaton. Harold Lloyd. Both geniuses. Lloyd actually put himself in physical peril for some of the stunts he executed. The list of silent drama I have seen is much, much shorter. Watching 'Diary' has moved me to change the length of that list.
|(Thymian sees her father)|
If you haven't seen "Diary of a Lost Girl", see it. If you've got Netflix, it's streaming now. If you don't know who Louise Brooks is, this is a great introduction to her film work.
If you do watch it, I hope it moves you to watch more silent film, too.
More to come...