Silent films touch the hearts of Bryanston

Redhill school teacher hosts a talk on how silent cinema influenced modern filmmaking.

Films weren’t always glitzy spectacles of computer-generated imagery (CGI), special effects and artificial intelligence touching up the final production here and there.

In fact, the origins of filmmaking were crude, unrefined and dangerous for many who participated in such avant-garde movies like DW Grffith’s 1916 epic silent film Intolerance.

Redhill school’s English teacher Digby Ricci hosted Bryanston at a public talk on April 4. The lecture-style session with Ricci aimed at celebrating the silent cinema for its boundless contributions to modern film.

“I want people to see the geniuses of the cinema from the beginning right the way through,” Ricci said. “I want people to recognise more the greatness of past cinematographers, directors, and stars of the silent era because we stand on the shoulders of giants, and we often forget that we stand on their shoulders.”

Digby Ricci cultivated a greater appreciation for the origins of film through his talk at Redhill school. Photo: Lebogang Tlou

Ricci’s eye-opening presentation chronicled the works of cinema pioneers like David W. Griffith, Edwin S. Porter, Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, Friedrich W. Murnau, and Louise Brooks.

“I think that the age of the DVD and online viewing has actually assisted the silent cinema a great deal because the films are properly shown with the correct accompanying music, and the right definition and look of the film,” Ricci explained. He was recalling how, as a boy, cinema-goers were shown these films at the wrong speed in darkened cinemas, with celluloid snapping. “Modern filmmakers can appreciate the visual impact, which is what it’s all about.”

Attendants were afforded the opportunity to watch several examples of the silent film to see how powerful the scenes tended to be. From Charlie Chaplin finding and adopting a child in The Kid, to the aesthetically pleasing scenes wherein Louise Brooks showcased her beauty and talent for silent productions.

Ricci’s appreciation and admiration for the silent film genre was infectiously shared with everyone in attendance.

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