Monday, October 27, 2003

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXXI

The Fall of the House of Usher
The 1928 silent French version of this classic Edgar Allan Poe story is an atmospherically minimal adaptation of one of the more suspenseful pieces of short fiction. While I don't think it's as impressive visually as some of the German expressionistic silent films of the same era, it still has its impressive moments. I guess my major beef with the Jean Epstein-directed hour-long piece is its pacing. The movie just plods. I realize silent films aren't the quickest of movies, but between the slow-moving visuals, overwrought depictions of madness and surprise, and overdubbed readings of the title cards, I got frustrated. Frustrated because I knew where the story was going, having read and reread the source material, but I had to stick with the film to get there. One saving grace -- in addition to the delightfully overacted facial expressions one can expect from silent movies -- was the new score, which was provided by a music historian who drew on source material from the medieval period. While occasionally scribbly in the stereotypical horror movie soundtrack violin sense, the score was often distraction enough from the presentation's plodding pace.

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