in about 100 words or less
In a poll that I conducted with 20 of my “middle-aged” friends, I found that about half had seen fewer than five silent films in their lifetime, and one had reported that they had never made it through one without falling asleep. For those who have tried watching a silent film, and found it boring, I suspect that you have done so in the comfort of your own home on late night TV, or perhaps through a specialty channel such as the TCM network. Based on these answers, I would guess that even fewer people have seen a silent film in theater. This is unfortunate, since this is where silent films are at their best – especially if accompanied by a live musical performance. While I admit that watching a silent film at home alone is not really that much fun, unless it’s done with at least a couple of friends. Despite what some “reputable” movie houses may have suggested in the past, silent film is an interactive experience, especially when accompanied by boos and hisses for the villain, and hoots and hollers for the hero! But as for whistling, yeah, that would be kind of annoying.
If you watch enough silent films you might also realize that many of your favorite movies had their origin in this early period of cinema. Old movies, silent or otherwise, are a also a virtual time machine to past places, people, events and cultures. For anyone who might want to give silent film another look, know that genres range from science fiction, adventure, family, drama, comedy, horror, and even educational films (though from my experience, you will probably want to give the latter a miss). While you’re not going to find many musicals, or your favourite comic book action hero, you might want to start with a comedy, as it is probably the most accessible genre. Also, don’t feel pressured into watching the “classics” right away. Just because your nerdy film friend says that “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari defined German Expressionist Cinema”, doesn’t mean that you will enjoy it – but yeah, you should eventually get around to seeing it (Klaus Ming April 2017).