Submitted by taoyue on Thu, 10/15/2015 - 15:36
The Big Parade (1925)
directed by King Vidor
Frames in this review are taken from the 2013 Blu-Ray release.
Originally written May 2005 from a viewing of the 1988 VHS release.
There two halves of The Big Parade are so different in tone
that they're almost two films. If we were to give them titles, the
first half could be called Life in the Army, a nostalgic look at
the camaraderie of basic training and garrison duty. The second half
could then be called War is Hell, a nightmarish experience of the
trench warfare that dominated the First World War on the Western Front.
This intentional stylistic dichotomy gives the film the same perspective as
the American doughboys had in the Great War. A rapid transition from peace
to war, a burst of patriotism, a baptism of fire in intense combat,
and then victory just 19 months later.
While All Quiet on the Western Front achieved its impact by soaking
up the desperation as it accumulated over four long years, The Big Parade
shocks the viewer with its rapid change of tone that quickly drives out any
naïveté about war. We are first treated to an hour of horsing around and
chasing French girls, lulling us into a false sense of security. Then
WHAM! The paradisiacal world comes crashing down, and the protagonist is
thrown into the relentless whirlwind of combat.
That so much bitterness can develop from a (comparatively) brief exposure
to combat makes a rather different and even more forceful statement on
the horrors of war. [...]
Submitted by taoyue on Wed, 05/24/2006 - 16:00
The Crowd (1928)
directed by King Vidor
Frames in this review are taken from the VHS tape, produced by Thames
Silents and released by MGM/UA in 1988.
Hollywood has the convention that a director with a smash hit gets to
write his own ticket for at least one more film. King Vidor had just
come off a massive success with his 1925 anti-war film The Big
Parade [link to my review], which
would've made him a millionaire had he not sold his share of the profits
to MGM. But as a rewards, he got to make The Crowd with the
understanding that he could make it an art film rather than a crowd
pleaser. This is exactly what he does, for the film questions the
attainability of the American dream at a time when
the stock market boom of the Roaring Twenties was still going strong.
Submitted by taoyue on Sun, 02/06/2005 - 15:00
Frau im Mond (1929)
(Woman in the Moon)
directed by Fritz Lang
Woman in the Moon (Frau im Mond) is one of Fritz Lang’s
forgotten films. Never finding the critical acclaim that other Lang
pictures did, this film has mostly been relegated to the annals of
historical rocketry films, sandwiched between Georges Méliès' whimsical
A Trip to the Moon and the post-V2, pre-Sputnik
Destination Moon, penned by science-fiction great Robert Heinlein.
Woman in the Moon is perhaps best-known for having popularized
the 3-2-1-liftoff countdown.
[...] The viewer
runs through the whole sequence of emotions that accompanied the Apollo
moonshots of the 1960s and 1970s: thrill in anticipation of the launch,
wonder at weightlessness, and wistfulness as the pioneers watch the earth
Watching Woman in the Moon is likely to send shivers up the
spine of the space enthusiast. The science depicted in the film has an
impressive pedigree — the technical sections are attributed to Dr.
Hermann Oberth, the father of German rocketry and mentor of Dr. Werner
von Braun, creator of the V-2 ballistic missile and later head of the
Saturn rocket program.