04 October 2016

Silent Films...A Forgotten Art

Art Model, Covenant © 2016 Terrell Neasley

"The Czech Republic had the largest collection of American silent films found outside the United States." News from the Library of Congress, 04 Dec 2013

Kris Krainock is a friend of mine. Esoteric savant might be one way to describe the kid, and I say kid, 'cuz he's only a kid on the exterior. You know how some people might characterize a young person as an old soul? Well, generally they are describing the "spirit" of an individual usually attributed to them because of an affinity they have for music from well before their time. To describe Kris as an old soul would fallibly miss the mark. Though "spirit" may be on the right track, saying the he is possessed by an actual OLD SOUL would be ultraprecise. I'd nickname him IMBd, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue so well.

I've met few who has the well of information about their craft as this young film-producer does. I have yet to deduce how he's been able to be so familiar with so many films in the years he's been alive. I could be wrong, but I did the math and it says he must have started sometime between 10 and 15 years prior to being born...which is an impossibility, I know, but  he's seen everything! I'm talking every-friggin' THING! Ask him about a French director from the '50's...he can give you a life history of the guy. Give him an actor and a brief synopsis of a movie and he can tell you the perfectionist British director, the Aussie leading lady who became his 5th, but not final wife, and renowned but alcoholic genius who wrote the musical score for the film. There's not a notable film to exist, independent or otherwise, that the kid isn't already familiar with and I daresay, owns. He's buys hard-to-find copies of notable films from all over the world. Definitely a deviant from the norm for anyone 5 years either way of his age, his unorthodox tendencies has even sucked his girlfriend, Ashley into his black hole obsessiveness. She's just like him and like her, I've fallen into orbit around his gravity.

Art Model, Covenant © 2016 Terrell Neasley
So I figure I will exploit his brain a bit as I delve into some of the old classics. He teaches me about oldies but goodies that I might not have otherwise come across. Back when I had my 2nd knee surgery, (that hadn't worked out so much as intended) I had a plenty of time on my hands and Netflix then became my friend. But it occurred to me, that from a cultural perspective, I was missing out on some of the great artistic films of a bygone age. I wasn't raised on "Gone with the Wind", or "Casablanca" and I didn't know a single black kid growing up with me who did. If any did, they didn't talk about it. There simply wasn't that sort of appeal.

There also wasn't the exposure either. I didn't realize I like classical music til I was in the Army doing a tour of duty in Germany. I found out I liked The Doors, as well at that time...all, because of exposure. To miss out on all these great films and music is a of tragedy of omission. Kris is committed to his craft, but he also spends time supporting it by helping to bring it back to life and and promoting it so that my dumb ass can learn something. Many artists get caught up in their own creations that they don't have time to give back. Kris, on the other hand, has been working tirelessly building his Krainockian Pictures film company, filming a TV series called, "The Idiot". However he still gives back. He sponsors and promotes his venture, CineMondays every friggin' week with a group of friends. Its every Monday, if you hadn't already guessed that and he's been doing for SIX years.

Art Model, Covenant © 2016 Terrell Neasley
September was Silent September for CineMondays, in which every Monday in September showcased a silent film. I visited for the first time mid-September and saw my first complete silent movie, the 1927 film by F.W. Murnau, "Sunrise". I'm 48 and had yet to see a silent movie in its entirety. Last week, I visited again. "City Lights", a Charlie Chaplin film took me by surprise. This silent film had me laughing hysterically, amazed at all the choreography, pissed that he lost the fight, and then tearing up in the end. Such a gamut of emotions and yet, not a single word spoken.

"Martin Scorsese’s "Hugo" and Michael Hazanavicius’ "The Artist" were cinematic tributes to the bygone era of silent films. Moviegoers, however, may not realize that 70 percent of feature-length silent films made in America have been completely lost to time and neglect." News from the Library of Congress, 04 Dec 2013

Besides my surprise for this film, what I found most amazing was the comedic timing. The sidewalk storefront window scene was absolutely incredible. You don't see that sense of perfection in today's films. Maybe you do and the film's appeal hasn't quite settled in me yet because its so fresh in my mind. But you don't see it that often, I'll say that. I think you can stand to learn much from the old ways as you do the new. I believe if you want to be a differentiating artist, you'll learn more of the trade and be more wholly inspired from the old greats, than the new. It would be a grave mistake to resolve that these films won't translate to the new audiences. Seriously, how many remakes are done every year?

Art Model, Covenant © 2016 Terrell Neasley
There is a wealth of inventory out there and yet, this lost art continues to disappear from our current reality. So I say to you, take advantage now. Spend a little time reading, listening to, and watching classic literature, music, and film. Revisit the museums that you hadn't thought about since your 2rd grade field trip with Mrs. Shaw and familiarize yourself with the painters and sculptors that shaped our culture. Photography is still relatively new as an art form, but very similar in age to film, just not widely accepted as art until maybe the 40's, thanks to Ansel Adams and other pioneer photographers.

Support the arts. I'd like to see our education system reformed to put more emphasis on it. Its just as, if not even more important, as all the math and science. Imagination is what fuels academic achievement, regardless of disciplinary subject. And art proves to be the most combustible catalyst for the brain to achieve its most prolific imaginative heights.


2 comments:

Winston Cooper said...

No comment on silent films, just wanted you and Covenant to know I think the location nudes y'all have included in this post are some of the finest I have seen in a while. Superb work folks..very beautiful and well done indeed..

Photo Anthems.com said...

Thank you so much for saying so, Winston! We'll definitely keep trying to visit and show more sites like this.