This movie is widely considered by apparently everyone to be one of the best movies ever made. I don’t agree but I still had fun watching it. It’s a “silent” film in that there is no spoken dialogue but it was one of the first movies to have the musical score, and some sound effects, on the actual film instead of played by a live band. The story is about how a man is having an affair. His mistress convinces him that he should get rid of his wife in a “boating accident.” But as he takes her out on the water, he gets up to do it and then has a change of heart and takes the boat back to shore. The wife realized what he had been up to and runs from him, and that’s only the first part of the movie.
This movie is beautifully shot. Nothing too ahead of its time but the shots themselves are done well for an old black and white film, many of the shots are still fairly impressive. The music stood out throughout most of the film, but the music doesn’t quite fit in a few parts, and for silent films this is very important. If the music doesn’t feel right, then the personality of your movie is wrong. This is still true today, but less so as a bad score can be saved with good dialogue, story, or action.
The major problem with this movie is after the interesting first act, the plot ends up having the “and then” syndrome so many bad works of fiction have. What I mean by that is when a story has something happen, and then has something else happen, and then something else happens, etc. You might think this is how stories work but you’re only partly right. Most stories have something happen because something else happened and because of that something else happens, etc. If something happens for no reason and then something else happens for no reason, it just start feels like an empty movie filled with seemingly unrelated events. The first act of this feels like an interesting movie for something of its age. Once that’s over everything is both cliche of the era and seems to have nothing to do with itself and it is perfectly happy spending the rest of the movie wasting my time.
Once again, though, it’s beautifully shot.
Why I think it’s on the list: I think, for it’s time, it’s really unique in the way it’s shot and that it’s one of the first movies with actual sound embedded in the picture.