J'accuse (1919) Director: Abel Gance J'accuse is the first great war epic film by the master director of epic silent film. Like his other silent films, J'accuse is a long film. In the modern edited down version, it lasts nearly three hours, but the original was 14 reels long and Gance shot much of the harrowing footage … Continue reading J’accuse

Stachka (Strike)

Stachka (1925) Director: Sergei Eisenstein Stachka (Strike) is the first feature film of the master Soviet propagandist, Sergei Eisenstein. The Battleship Potemkin, his masterpiece, was made later that year in 1924-1925. After production for Stachka was complete he wrote an influential essay called "Montage Of Attractions" that appeared in a Soviet journal. In it he argued for … Continue reading Stachka (Strike)

The Peloponnesian War, Book III: Invasion and Revolution

Book III begins as Archidamus, King of Sparta, invades Attica. This triggers a revolt, notably on the island of Lesbos, because of Athens's enslavement of its allies, which causes a proxy war for Athens with the Mytilenians. The Plataeans were attacked by Thebes and retreat to Athens, and Athens defeats the revolt of the Mytilenians, … Continue reading The Peloponnesian War, Book III: Invasion and Revolution

The Peloponnesian War, Book II: Proxy Wars and Pericles’s Funeral Oration

Book II begins the rise of the war chronologically. The thirty years peace ends when Thebes (allied with the Peloponnesians) attacks Plataea (allied with Athens) and the Thebans surrender. Both cities are loctaed borth of Athens in Boetia. Plataea executes its 180 vaptured prisoners in the country before Athenian emissaries could arrive to instruct them … Continue reading The Peloponnesian War, Book II: Proxy Wars and Pericles’s Funeral Oration

The Smiling Madame Beudet

The Smiling Madame Beudet (1922) Director: Germaine Dulac The Smiling Madame Beudet (or La Souriante Madame Beudet) is a moody but beautifully painted impressionistic short French film. Germaine Dulac, a woman, had developed a taste for the avant-garde and surrealist cinema, and later scholars have dubbed it a "feminist" film, though that label is debatable. Dulac certainly was a progressive feminist writer … Continue reading The Smiling Madame Beudet

Les Vampires

Les Vampires (1915-1916) Director: Louis Feuillade Les Vampires is a series of French short serials that were released in the early days of pioneer film-making. They are silent episodic films (10 episodes in total) and last over 400 minutes long. Curiously enough, the episodes are not about actual vampires, and instead they are about a gang of evil people, … Continue reading Les Vampires

People on Sunday

People on Sunday (1930) Director: Robert Siodmak, Edgar Ulmer "Menschen am Sonntag" is a short German silent film released in 1930, lasting slightly longer than one hour. It is a film largely without a plot, filmed over several Sundays in and around Berlin. All the actors were daily workers in Berlin -ordinary people enjoying their … Continue reading People on Sunday

The Peloponnesian War, Book I: Setting the Stage for War

Thucydides begins his historia of the great war between the Peloponnese and Athens (431 BC - 404 BC) by noting that he is an "Athenian" and that the he wrote of the war "from the beginning" because it is "more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it." In saying so, Thucydides cleverly draws distinction between … Continue reading The Peloponnesian War, Book I: Setting the Stage for War