16
May 05

Silent but deadly

Do You SeePost a comment • 438 views

What better ways are there to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May than ensconced in a dark concrete sub-basement watching a silent film from 1926?*

After a rather too large lunch, hoofing it around the renownedly maze-like Barbican Centre trying to find the appropriate place to pick up our tickets for Flesh and the Devil was a little taxing, not to say sweaty. However, tickets clenched in greasy palm and garlic breath projecting around us, we took our (very comfortable) seats in the auditorium and eagerly anticipated the film. If one is not a fan of the common cinema advert genus, the Barbican is ideal, because as a proper art venue it of course has no truck with any of that commercial nonsense.

The besuited pianist (live accompaniment – classy!) took his place, flicked a switch to start the movie and tinkled away for the next two hours, splendidly nuancing Greta Garbo’s slinkiness and undercutting the pomp of the male leads. It’s a smashing piece of entertainment, with all the gesticulation you expect and need from a silent drama, but also some surprisingly naturalistic acting, and Garbo is mesmerising and repellent in equal measure as the needy (and greedy) socialite ruining men’s lives for kicks (and cash) in German high society between the wars. There’s some excellent barely-repressed homo-erotic stuff about brotherly love in there to boot, and the pointy-castle matte paintings are a bit of a treat.

It was a pleasure to experience such a great silent classic on the big screen, and also to be a member of one of the most callous audiences of all time: we all giggled furiously while poor Greta slid beneath the icy covering of a lake to drown after finally repenting of her wicked ways. All in all, an excellent alternative to enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

*merely rhetorical, pls do not answer kthxbye

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