Some documentation on silent cinema

Some Documentation on Silent Cinema
March 2012

1. Festivals of silent cinema
2. Texts about silent cinema
3. Silent cinema, available on internet
4. Silent cinema on dvd
5. Television series about silent cinema

1. Festivals of silent cinema
The festival “Giornate del Cinema Muto” in Pordenone exists since 1981, the festival “Il Cinema Ritrovato” in Bologna exists since 1986. In the nineties emerged more festivals of film heritage, like in Paris (Cinémémoire, since 1991) and Nottingham (British Silent Cinema Festival, since 1998).
In the United States exists since 1996 the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and since 2002 the Museum of Modern Art in New York organises the ‘To Save and Project. The MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation’.
Niche market: Rock bands or Big Bands as accompagnement of silent cinema
2. Texts about silent cinema


General Introductions to silent film
  • Balshover, Fred J. & Arthur Miller, One Reel a Week, Berkeley/L.A.: University of California Press, 1967.
  • Brownlow, Kevin, The Parade’s Gone By... London: Secker & Walburg, 1968.
  • Card, James, Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film, New York: Knopf, 1994.
  • Cherchi Usai, Paolo, Silent Cinema: An introduction. London: British Film Institute, 2000.
  • Dixon, Bryony, 100 Silent Films, London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Finler, Joel E., Silent Cinema: World Cinema before the Coming of Sound, London: Batsford, 1998.
  • Franklin, Joe & William K. Everson, Classics of the Silent Screen, A Pictorial Treasury, New York: The citadel Press, 1959.
  • Robb, Brian J. Silent Cinema, Harpenden: Kamera Books, 2007.

Some journalistic articles and reviews about silent cinema (in Dutch)

Some academic publications about the historiography of silent cinema and musical accompaniment
Some catalogues of Silent Cinema
Recommended reading about Film Archives
Film archives on the internet

3. Silent cinema, available on internet
‘Silent Film Democracy’ ( has put many silent films on line, often with music, but always in a series of short fragments. Like in the early days the films are divided in ‘reels’ of 10 minutes. Examples, among others: Waxworks (Paul Leni, 1924) and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau,1927) and Der müde Tod (Fritz Lang, 1921) and Toll of the Sea (Chester M. Franklin, 1922).
Toll of the Sea was shown on 3 februari 2008 in the Dutch Filmmuseum, with music of Puccini, performed by Gilbert den Broeder (piano), Jan Koomen (violin) and Pien Straesser (soprano). This film starred Anna May Wong, also known for her performance in Piccadilly (Dupont, 1929).
On You Tube you can retrieve a promotional video of the accompaniment of the Brussels Jazz Orchestra to Piccadilly (Dupont, 1929, starring Anna May Wong), composed by Frank Vaganée (2006).
The British Film Institute released a dvd of this film in juni 2004: “Piccadilly has now been beautifully restored by the BFI National Film & Television Archive, complete with amber and blue tinting copied from an original 1929 silent release print. The BFI also commissioned a new score from Neil Brand, internationally acclaimed as a master of improvised silent film accompaniment. Following its worldwide premiere at the New York Film Festival last autumn, Piccadilly received its UK premiere at the Barbican in March with the score performed live by Brand and some of the UK's leading jazz players.” (Source:
Director King Vidor explains how he made a complex tracking shot in The Crowd (1928), in a interview in 1973 with Richard Schickel, for the series "The Men Who Made the Movies". URL: .
The first scene of ´The Crowd´ with a new score by Bjarni Biering Margeirsson is available at You Tube (“The Crowd King Vidor new Music, length = 6:13).
One could compare this with the score by Alex Marenga (also known as AMPTEK), made for a Italian dvd (“Music for The Crowd”, length = 2:06)
You Tube - “Filmconcert: Berlin die Sinfonie der Grossstadt”: Dutch pianist Yvo Verschoor offers a short fragment (2.56) of his accompaniment, performed at 16 March 2008 in filmtheatre De Uitkijk (Amsterdam). See also:
Google video: “Berlin die Sinfonie der Grossstadt (sulac)”, a short fragment of the opening of the film (1:52). - Kristin Thompson and Kevin B. Lee on La Roue (1922, directed by Abel Gance)
European Avant garde:
S.M. Eisenstein:
Some recommended archival websites for silent cinema
4. Silent cinema on dvd
When films are not shown in public, the are forgotten. A dvd release could build a new reputation and attract a new audience.
The silent film The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström, 1921) for instance was known only in a limited circle of experts. The dvd release in 2007 could change this (some previews are available on You Tube).One of the earliest fans of this film was director Ingmar Bergman (Sjöström performed in Wild Strawberries). The Swedish site contains valuable information about the work of Bergman and his sources of inspiration. geeft waardevolle (Engelstalige) informatie over het oeuvre van Bergman. Filed under the lemma of Wild Strawberries (1957) one can read the following statement: “As mentioned, one obvious cinematic influence is Sjöström's The Phantom Carriage, the film which, according to Bergman, was: the film of all films. I saw it for the first time when I was fifteen; to this day I see it at least once every summer, either alone or in the company of younger people. I clearly see how The Phantom Carriage has influenced my own work, right down to minute details."
Some dvd-labels
Some compilations of silent cinema, released by the Dutch Filmmuseum (EYE Film Institute Netherlands)
5. Television series about silent cinema
International television series about silent cinema
Dutch television series about silent cinema and film heritage
  • Simon van Collem, De oude draaidoos (Vpro, 1958-1969), book publication: Uit de oude draaidoos (1959).
  • Maarten van Rooijen, Spreken is zilver, zwijgen is goud (Vpro, 19..).
  • Hans Keller, Over De Brug (Vpro, 1981, 100’, documentary about DE BRUG, Ivens 1928).
  • Peter Delpeut – Cinema Perdu (Vpro, 1995: 40 short programs of ten minutes). Written columns in Vprogids, 1995/1996. Book publication (with video tape): 1997.
  • Peter Delpeut - De tijdmachine, overpeinzingen bij 100 jaar beeldcultuur (Vpro, 1996).