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Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Success of Silent Films

    Why did silent films exit the market? Why were they popular to begin with? The Artist (2011) was an attempt to revive the genre, but it did not change the movie industry. Is it a matter of moving pictures ceasing to be novel, and therefore a movie without sound is just not enough to capture our interest?

    • I think silent films were popular, because that was all they had at the time. It's a matter of better technology. I'm sure even back then had they had the option of non silent films, the non silent ones would have been more popular. It's the equivalent of having kids that are used to 3D online video games having to play older video games. Although maybe some still enjoy them, they'd still have a preference for the newer stuff. That said, the movie Wall-E still did pretty good. It's not completely silent. It still uses sound, music, and some minor words to set a tone and tell a story. That said, maybe it's still possible to make "silenter" movies, but I think the story would have to be well thought out and it would need to be visually stimulating. Basically, a lot of thought and time would need to be put into its development, and for most people it'd just be easier to make a none silent film where the story can be told in words. – Tatijana 4 years ago
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    • I'm not sure I agree with your claim that The Artist was an attempt to revive the genre of silent movies-If I remember correctly, sound was used in a key moment (at the end, I think?). I saw it more as a design and movie-making choice. I do think that an interesting topic could be the use of sound/dialogue in certain movies--Cast Away, for instance, has a significant chunk of time without dialogue. When is the lack of sound effective in film? – cray0309 4 years ago
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    • It feels like you really should have done your research before bringing up this topic. Because this shouldn't be the place where you get your historical facts checked. If anything is to be clear about how the movie industry developed, and really any technological breakthrough, it is that when something new and exciting comes along that changes the industry enough, it will become the default. When motion pictures came around, people thought it would be a fad, a passing fancy. But that was only because they thought you would sit in a theater, watch some stuff you could see any day out on the street, and then leave. But then people started telling stories with it. Then they started editing the footage so that it cut between camera angles, and it cut back and forth between two simultaneous strings of events and action. So it started to take off. Films became longer and longer, they became bigger and bigger. And then eventually, a few people came up with how to record soundtracks on record, and sync it with the moving pictures. The Jazz Singer wasn't the first to do this, but it popularized the idea in the minds of the producers and the public. Suddenly, every film began incorporating sound as best as it could, despite the loud camera equipment. Only a few directors, especially Charlie Chaplin, seemed stuck in their ways, and refused to go to sound for several more features. But by the mid-30s, everything was sound, because it just seemed so natural to tell a story where people could actually talk, and you could hear everything that they said. Thankfully, that didn't mean the ability to tell a story without words had gone away. Plenty of directors did masterful work with nerry a word a dialogue for most of their pictures' run-time. And quite a few films still do that today. "The Artist" was an experiment, a unique vision to want to tell the story about the transition into sound pictures through the use of a nearly silent one. But to be honest, it was a tough sit for me, because I like to have sound in some respect. Sound effects are an integral part of storytelling now. They are so subtle sometimes and so powerful, that to have no sound and just music feels like a missed opportunity. So maybe if the film had more sound effects (despite their thematic use at certain points), it might have been easier to watch. But just about any director today could tell a story without dialogue, that's what most of their job is all about. So I really think you're asking the wrong questions here. Silent films didn't use to be popular. That's all their was. But they fell out of favor because sound became such a natural inclusion. Trying to bring them back as they were, though, is a tough sell, as I've said. Because all their is is music: no talking, and no sound effects. Which can make a movie feel very claustrophobic and empty at times: in my opinion. – Jonathan Leiter 4 years ago
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    • Film has generally been a medium for innovation - whether it be for better or worse. The silent films were popular in the 1920s, because that was the greatest point of innovation in that time. The industry was mostly or entirely composed of 'talkies' by the 1930s. I would question your assertion, regarding "The Artist", because that was an attempt to be - pardon the pun - artsy. This film, further, was very much an anomaly, in the respect that it was a silent film. This would be better suited by far as a review of the movie "The Artist"; and as such, I believe a rejection of topic may be warranted. – JDJankowski 4 years ago
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    • @JDJankowski We don't publish reviews on this platform. – Misagh 4 years ago
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    • I actually did an article that incorprated some of this topic: films were orignally silent because they developed naturally from Melodrama, which was the most popular form of theatre in the era just before/during the dawn of cinema. There are still many elements of both melodrama and silent cinema is the blockbuster, but as Jonathan said it has evolved. https://the-artifice.com/are-blockbusters-melodramatic/ – Francesca Turauskis 4 years ago
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    • I think so. Many people have to be over-stimulated and entertained to watch a movie now, and silent films are not the most stimulating to people who cannot understand the mastery and artistry behind them. The Artists was terrific, we need more like it. – luminousgloom 4 years ago
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    • I really think it depends on the audience and the overall thematic content of the film. I think many animated films can forfeit dialogue and still retain a stimulated and engaged audience. Recall, the first half hour or so of Wall-E. – Moonrattle 4 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    I would agree that the novel is changing, but I believe that it always has been changing. Some say that there are no “new” stories to be told, yet the goal of every novelist is to do something a little different than what has come before. Deviating from traditional formats is a part of this. There have been whole literary movements (Modernism) centered around novelists rejecting the traditional novel. The changing novel is just a natural consequence of our desire to create new experiences.

    Is the Novel Dead?

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