Monday, February 20, 2006

A drunk pig

which title doesn't refer either to myself when I've had a drink or five, nor to anyone else I know. Well I hope it doesn't refer to me though I note that tonight my wife and I had one of our rare disagreements; for the most part we agree on the important stuff but this time we were unable to agree on Morgan. And yes, when we had that disagreement I was already well on the way to my cups...

Nope, what inspired the title was somewhere a movie[^] I've wanted to see for 20 years went and where I didn't expect it to go.

20 or so years ago I watched an otherwise totally forgotten program on TV about classic movies. It's so forgotten that I'm not sure whether it ran on SBS or ABC - the one thing I'm certain is that it didn't run on any of the commercial networks. I suspect it was SBS.

There was one 2 minute segment about a particular movie that has stuck in my mind through all those years. I've scanned program guides for years, first in Australia and, lately here in the US watching for that movie to pop up. It did eventually, on TCM when I was in Dallas.

As the proud owner of a new multimedia PC attached to cable TV you can imagine my delight when I saw the movie listed; I don't think I'll ever set 'record this movie' as fast as I did that time!

I watched it today. Not once. Not twice. Thrice!

This is probably the most beautiful movie I've ever seen. The story, of necessity for a movie made as a silent (but see below), is simple. It's even simpler because F W Murnau, the director, eschewed for the most part the use of intertitles. He relied on the actors ability to convey meaning and his ability as director. He knew what he was doing!

The part of the movie I've remembered for the past 20 years is one of the least important parts. It was the scene where 'The Man' and the 'Woman from the City' kiss. Nicely done but it is as nothing when compared to the scene where 'The Man' and 'The Wife' emerge from the church and enter the city, to fall in love with each other again.

Writing this 79 years after the movie was shot I could say that I feel uncomfortable using terms such as 'The Man' or 'The Wife' but that'd be imposing 2006 gender ideas onto a movie shot in 1927. Whether we agree with it or not, that's how the movie titles identify the actors and that's how people thought in those days.

The see below. The movie is nominally a silent movie inasmuch as there's no dialogue. It's dated 1927 which places it right at the end of the silent movie era and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn it was planned, written and shot before The Jazz Singer[^]. But it's not actually a silent; it has the most wonderful, if somewhat derivative, orchestral soundtrack added in 1928. Wagner figures; Die Meistersinger and something derived from the Siegfried Idyll.

Oh the drunk pig? You'll have to watch the movie to understand. It would take way too long to explain here!

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