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Off Camera: Live at Larmer Tree Festival

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Mark Kermode | 16:55 UK time, Tuesday, 29 July 2008

A recent festival gig echoes the connections between cinema and sound.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Hitchcock said that every film maker's first film ought to be a silent one. This is because he felt that cinema has a language of its own that needs to be learnt before attempting anything else.

    Who can argue with the maestro?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hollywood was very aware that silent films were an international language, and that the audience all thought that characters all 'spoke' the same language they did - a bit like how characters adapted from a book look/sound in your head far better than on screen. Indeed, for the silent film version of Peter Pan, the Hollywood director shot 26 versions of the scene where Peter raised 'his' flag on Capn Hook's ship – one for each of the main countries the film would be distributed in.

    Also, during the boom of the silent era, a third of global box office receipts were for German films, with a healthy percentage British and French, too. (All that ended with WWI.)

    Meanwhile, the head of MGM in the 1930s was convinced that the effect of talkies would be that the world would learn English. Disastrous box office receipts, however, led to the rise of dubbing... but that's another story, and one that I'm currently writing into a book.


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