Even a super-expensive film school education doesn’t prepare you for the scope and importance of the silent film era. It was a time where film was literally being figured out on the fly, conventions were being created, stars were born and a language we now take for granted was being written. The journey from film’s earliest incarnation to the sound era is one marked by innumerable milestones, and a 13-part miniseries does an excellent job at putting some of that into perspective.

Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film was produced in 1980 by Thames Television. Directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill with narration by James Mason, the show attempts to do exactly what its title suggests: tell the history of American silent film. The entire series resides on YouTube and while you probably won’t be able to finish it in one sitting, the show is a more than worthy addition to your ever expanding instant queue. Read More »

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The list of filmmakers who will be awarded honorary Oscars this year has been released, and it’s a good one. Francis Ford Coppola will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, given to “a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.”

Jean-Luc Godard, Eli Wallach and film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow (track down his book The Parade’s Gone By if you have even a passing interest in silent film) will all receive honorary Oscar statues, given each year to individuals for their ““extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.” Read More »

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