Given the upcoming Oscar Academy Awards, we thought we’d dedicate this post to a time-less and sound-less category of cinema that we hold very dear to our hearts: silent films. Anybody who ever thought the era of silent films has passed was completely, utterly, undeniably mistaken. One of the first silent films to be released from Hollywood in decades, The Artist has taken audiences by storm and garnered a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. As silent film begins to re-enter the public eye, we revisit some of the best silent films to have ever graced the silver screen. From slapstick comedies to tearjerker dramas, these movies can please any cinephile—without uttering a single word – and with or without a digital hearing aid by Audicus.
Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
Buster Keaton was a vaudeville star turned comic film actor, who has been hailed as one of the greatest male stars of all time by the American Film Institute. In Sherlock, Jr. Keaton plays a film operator and janitor who falls in love with a lovely lady. While Keaton wants to woo her heart, he lacks the funds to make an impressive move. At the same time, a conniving rival tries to steal Keaton’s girl while framing the bumbling youngster for petty theft. Full of charming and hilarious set of mishaps, this is a mystery you don’t want to miss.
Modern Times (1936)
Charlie Chaplin stars as the iconic tramp in this socially conscious comedy about the industrialized world. In Modern Times, Chaplin works in a factory assembly line, where he is humiliated by a terrifying boss and force fed by an outrageous machine. Over the course of the film, Chaplin is jailed, freed, and then arrested again. In the meantime, he faces a cold world with characteristic hilarity. As with all his movies, Chaplin provides the perfect combination of physical humor and overall absurdity in Modern Times.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
This film was directed by F.W. Murnau and won an Oscar at history’s very first Academy Awards in 1929. Sunrise tells the story of a rural man and his wife, whose quiet life suddenly finds itself at stake. A woman arrives from the city and sets her eyes on the man, seducing him and convincing him to murder his wife. He falls for the city siren, and while trying to act out the plan, runs into a dramatic, heart-wrenching adventure with his wife. Full of emotion and striking visual language, Sunrise is a revelatory film for all time.
Widely recognized as the world’s first science fiction film, Metropolis went on to influence George Lucas’ groundbreaking series Star Wars and George Orwell’s novel 1984. Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban society, where father and son fight each other head-on. In the midst of high rises, excessive luxury and social decay, an exploited working class struggle to stay alive. The protagonist, Freder, is suddenly awakened to the people’s plight, while his father enjoys the city’s spoils. This cinematic epic was one of the most expensive silent films ever made and continues to stun audiences around the world.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
This horror film is perhaps the quintessential example of German Expressionism—a genre marked by dark and eery artistic tones. In this haunting film, a young man in a mental asylum recounts a chilling tale involving his fiancé. The mysterious Dr. Caligari appears in town, with his sideshow featuring a sleepwalker. One night, a shocking murder takes place and suspicions run amok. Over time, the young man finds his own fiancé at risk of losing her life—at the hands of Dr. Caligari and his monster. Full of thrills and suspense, this film is well worth watching.