One of the biggest problems people have with silent films is the acting style.
The growing naturalism of the sound era culminated in the Method of Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio. Derived from the Russiona theatre director and theorist Stanislavski, the Method emphasised inner life and emotional truth. If that truth expressed itself sometimes in muttering and uncertainty, then that was a fair price for truth.
Actors like Brando, Newman, Clift, Burstyn, Dean and Karl Marden moved far beyond the stage-school approach which made early sound films look like a slow day in Noel Coward’s living room. These guys were allowed to mumble. They were required to bump into the furniture.
If the upright style of Grant and Gable now looked old-fashioned, then the gesticulations of the silent era seemed positively antique. But even in that time, there were visionaries of naturalism. Some were actors, most notably Lillian Gish. One was a director, now forgotten, called Alice Guy-Blaché. Guy-Blaché’s cry was “BE NATURAL”. She had the motto hung on her studio wall.For more information on Ms Guy-Blaché, and for a chance to support a new film about her career, visit the Kickstarter site by following the link here!
Posted by Kevin McGee