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As poets, we rely on our words to express thoughts, ideas, and feelings. A silent film is a movie without spoken words due to the lack of synchronized recorded sound technology back in the early 1900’s. Onscreen titles were used to narrate story points, present key dialogue and sometimes even comment on the action for the viewing audience. In place of dialogue, silent film actors used muted gestures and pantomime to express thoughts, ideas and feelings. Music and sound effects helped set the mood of the film as well.

Some of the top grossing silent films include Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and The Phantom of the Opera. In 1923, the American film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, (adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo) was Universal Studios most successful silent film bringing in over $3 million.

Above is a scene from The Phantom of the Opera with Erik, the Phantom (played by actor, Lon Chaney) and Christine Daaé (played by Mary Philbin.)

When I think of the silent film era, however, the first thing that comes to mind is the comedy antics of actors such as Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin.


(above – Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy)
(below – Charlie Chaplin in “The Gold Rush”)

Check out the trailers of the following Chaplin movies in this You Tube video clip.

  • The Kid
  • A Woman of Paris
  • The Goldrush
  • The Circus
  • City Lights
  • Modern Times

For today’s Poetics, the silent film era is your prompt.  You could write about one of the actors, compare and contrast silent films with present-day movies, or maybe write a parody of one of the above scenes.

~ After you write your poem, please post it on your blog.
~ Click the Mr. Linky button below and when the new window opens input your name and the direct URL of your poem.
~ Visit and comment on other participants’ links – as I am sure we will all have much to SAY about SILENT films because, after all, we’re poets!

Poetically yours,
Sheila

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