Silent Cinema

Comedy Film
Safety Last!

6, 7 December 2013

A summary of their participation by the speaker

  • The Doll
    Eduardo Rodríguez Merchán
    Die puppe (1919) is a very representative movie of the Berlin period of the most brilliant German director Ernst Lubitsch, who three years later would exile to Hollywood to complete a brilliant cinematographic career in America. With this movie we will initiate the series of comical silent films that pretends traveling along ten year of a period in which cinema was reaching an extraordinary creative maturity, which was truncated with the arrival of sound films. Lubitsch  draws with precision and much imagination a fable which, under the appearance of an innocent tale, hides some of the most subtile stylistic elements of the famous director of Ninotchka (1939) or of To be or not to be (1942): a ruthless satire that, nevertheless, does not give up charm, a stark but elegant irony, the game of sexual attractions and love affairs, etc. With very bold stylistic and narrative contributions, but never forgetting the paradigms already settled in the silent comedy like the usual slapstick jokes and cinematographic clowning, Die puppe tells a bizarre story that obliges us to think about social role of humans and their miseries. An ambiguous and bland young man, a noble worn and decrepit, lewd and lying monks, a doll automata builder, and his shameless daughter conform a cast of characters who -as it is common in Lubitsch's cinema- are decisive and better structured that the plot supporting their adventures.
  • The Doll
    Eduardo Rodríguez Merchán
    Die puppe (1919) is a very representative movie of the Berlin period of the most brilliant German director Ernst Lubitsch, who three years later would exile to Hollywood to complete a brilliant cinematographic career in America. With this movie we will initiate the series of comical silent films that pretends traveling along ten year of a period in which cinema was reaching an extraordinary creative maturity, which was truncated with the arrival of sound films. Lubitsch  draws with precision and much imagination a fable which, under the appearance of an innocent tale, hides some of the most subtile stylistic elements of the famous director of Ninotchka (1939) or of To be or not to be (1942): a ruthless satire that, nevertheless, does not give up charm, a stark but elegant irony, the game of sexual attractions and love affairs, etc. With very bold stylistic and narrative contributions, but never forgetting the paradigms already settled in the silent comedy like the usual slapstick jokes and cinematographic clowning, Die puppe tells a bizarre story that obliges us to think about social role of humans and their miseries. An ambiguous and bland young man, a noble worn and decrepit, lewd and lying monks, a doll automata builder, and his shameless daughter conform a cast of characters who -as it is common in Lubitsch's cinema- are decisive and better structured that the plot supporting their adventures.
  • Seven Years Bad Luck
    Fernando Lara
    Classified by Román Gubern  as the "first great comedian of the screen" and "fundamental milestone in the history of the comic film", Max Linder determined a decisive twist of the genre. In opposition to the miserable and clownish looks of his predecessors, he imposed the elegance of the Parisian "dandy", more of a hedonist bon vivant, always on the search of a difficult feminine conquest within a bourgeois environment. A direct predecessor of Chaplin, who got to recognize his influence over him, Linder attained a great popularity. His master piece is Seven Years Bad Luck, which he directed in 1921 during his second stay in the United States, and from which the extraordinary mirror scene is always remembered. The scene would be imitated several years later by the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup.
  • Seven Years Bad Luck
    Fernando Lara
    Classified by Román Gubern  as the "first great comedian of the screen" and "fundamental milestone in the history of the comic film", Max Linder determined a decisive twist of the genre. In opposition to the miserable and clownish looks of his predecessors, he imposed the elegance of the Parisian "dandy", more of a hedonist bon vivant, always on the search of a difficult feminine conquest within a bourgeois environment. A direct predecessor of Chaplin, who got to recognize his influence over him, Linder attained a great popularity. His master piece is Seven Years Bad Luck, which he directed in 1921 during his second stay in the United States, and from which the extraordinary mirror scene is always remembered. The scene would be imitated several years later by the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup.
  • Safety Last!
    Carlos F. Heredero

    Harold Lloyd (1893 / 1971) was at the beginning of 20's the best payed actor in the world, and one of the richest men in America. He had starred in more than 180 comic short films (a number higher than what the combination of Chaplin and Keaton could produce) and he was a born winner who lived in a huge mansion in Beverly Hills with 44 rooms, an olympic pool, sports fields, and golf course. And it is precisely about this -the conquer of social success- that most of his films talked about, including the short films, the eleven silent and seven sound feature films in which he starred along his entire filmography. Among them, we have of course Safety Last! the fourth of his feature films, a movie that includes one of the most famous comic scenes in the history of cinema: the one showing Harold Lloyd escalating a high skyscraper and holding on to the hands of a clock. An iconic image a thousand times repeated that lives in the imagination of all fans.

    Creator of a characteristic character ("Winckle"), always wearing a straw hat and tortoiseshell sunglasses, Lloyd sought humor through the misunderstandings that tend to place his creature in an embarrassing situation, which he normally ignores and cause the emotional bonding with the spectator, as it is masterfully represented in the first sequence of Safety Last! His humor is always calculated, precise and with a marked tendency to acrobatic situations, among which the force of the high-point scene of this movie shines. A movie inspired by the discovery by Harold Lloyd of a true "human fly" who was dedicated to climbing buildings (Bill Strothers), and who as a matter of fact stars in the most dangerous scenes of the film, where he was the stunt of the extremely famous and wealthy Harold Lloyd. 

  • Safety Last!
    Carlos F. Heredero

    Harold Lloyd (1893 / 1971) was at the beginning of 20's the best payed actor in the world, and one of the richest men in America. He had starred in more than 180 comic short films (a number higher than what the combination of Chaplin and Keaton could produce) and he was a born winner who lived in a huge mansion in Beverly Hills with 44 rooms, an olympic pool, sports fields, and golf course. And it is precisely about this -the conquer of social success- that most of his films talked about, including the short films, the eleven silent and seven sound feature films in which he starred along his entire filmography. Among them, we have of course Safety Last! the fourth of his feature films, a movie that includes one of the most famous comic scenes in the history of cinema: the one showing Harold Lloyd escalating a high skyscraper and holding on to the hands of a clock. An iconic image a thousand times repeated that lives in the imagination of all fans.

    Creator of a characteristic character ("Winckle"), always wearing a straw hat and tortoiseshell sunglasses, Lloyd sought humor through the misunderstandings that tend to place his creature in an embarrassing situation, which he normally ignores and cause the emotional bonding with the spectator, as it is masterfully represented in the first sequence of Safety Last! His humor is always calculated, precise and with a marked tendency to acrobatic situations, among which the force of the high-point scene of this movie shines. A movie inspired by the discovery by Harold Lloyd of a true "human fly" who was dedicated to climbing buildings (Bill Strothers), and who as a matter of fact stars in the most dangerous scenes of the film, where he was the stunt of the extremely famous and wealthy Harold Lloyd. 

  • Go West
    David Trueba
    A touching Buster Keaton due to what he represents for discovering cinema itself, of his way of doing it and establishing humor. The narrative precariousness offers a clear idea of the birth of cinema, of visual humor, and of the establishment of the eternal character of the loser.
  • Long Pants
    Román Gubern
    "Long Pants" (Sus primeros pantalones, 1927), directed by Frank Capra, was the last collaboration of the Italo-american director with the North American comedian Harry Langdon. This comedian played a scatterbrained, awkward boy in the spirits of troubled baby who has just awaken. In this film, his parents give him his first long pants, which symbolize the passing from adolescence to adulthood, and offer him the innocent Priscilla as his first girlfriend. But Langdon falls terribly in love with a seductive vamp linked to drug and mob businesses, and due to this, even attempts to murder his virginal girlfriend. This is a Freudian comedy about a frustrated rite of passage due to sexual immaturity that also presented a keen contrast between the traditional and conservative rural world, and the agitated urban world. Langdon was Dali's and Buñuel's favorite comedian, and also enthused the poet Vicente Huidobro. The French historian Jean Mitry would define him as the "awaken dreamer", the author of a "bitter and destructive poetry".
  • It
    Manuel Rodríguez Rivero

    In 1927, once silent films where almost finished, It by Clarence Badger was premiered. Badger was a prolific North American director who today is almost forgotten. The strange title -that in Spanish would be translated into "eso", or maybe the more Freudian "ello"- refers to the disembodied and subtile mixture of mental brightness and magnetic force that makes the people who posses it irresistible to others. In Badger's movie, a fun romantic comedy with melodramatic twists and a glorious ending, the person who has "it" is Betty (Clara Bow), a humble girl looking like the girl next door, who manages to overcome the social barrier and makes Cyrus (Antonio Moreno), the heir of a department store where she works as a clerk, fall in love with her.

    The movie, whose copies were considered lost until finding one of them in Czechoslovakia at the beginning of the 1960's, is also a magnificent document of the postwar women in the 1920's, those cheeky flappers, uninhibited and bursting with energy that can be found in the narrative of Francis Scott Fitzgerald, and definitively bury the innocent, sweet and suffering heroine incarnated the decade before by Mary Pickford or Lillian Gish.

  • An Italian Straw Hat
    Patricia Ferreira

    The world, the rhythm, and the misunderstandings of the vaudeville, taken to film: this is Un chapeau de paille d'Italie directed by René Clair in 1927 from a theatrical work of Eugène Labiche - who is considered the father of this genre- and his usual collaborator, Marc-Michel. In opposition to the a comedy cinema like the North American, with more emphasis in the physical expression, Clair directs a comedy full of European style twists, developing with irony and subtlety a portrait of representative characters from the French bourgeois of the end of 19th century. His sense of humor and the humor of the situations are a trademark from this director so unjustly forgotten, but who in Un chapeau de paille d'Italie managed to make real the title of one of his other famous movies: Le silence est d'or (Silence is Golden).

  • An Italian Straw Hat

    The world, the rhythm, and the misunderstandings of the vaudeville, taken to film: this is Un chapeau de paille d'Italie directed by René Clair in 1927 from a theatrical work of Eugène Labiche - who is considered the father of this genre- and his usual collaborator, Marc-Michel. In opposition to the a comedy cinema like the North American, with more emphasis in the physical expression, Clair directs a comedy full of European style twists, developing with irony and subtlety a portrait of representative characters from the French bourgeois of the end of 19th century. His sense of humor and the humor of the situations are a trademark from this director so unjustly forgotten, but who in Un chapeau de paille d'Italie managed to make real the title of one of his other famous movies: Le silence est d'or (Silence is Golden).


Comedy Film

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