I have always been interested in silent films, particularly those with no sound. The silence in these films has had a profound influence on our society, not only on how libraries are run, but also on the invention of the Quiet Zone, found on some of our most popular train services.
According to a special report, 70% of silent films have either been completely lost, partly lost, or are scheduled to be lost. This is a great shame. As a noted film critic commented recently: 'This is a great shame.'
The first ever silent film was two seconds long and instantly won the Cannes Jury Prize for Best First Ever Silent Film.
Music was used to accompany these films, often on piano, Linn Drum or Fogophone. The Fogophone was an unusual instrument that made strange but effective musical noises which scientists later discovered resembled the mating call of the gannet. Cinemas later stopped using the Fogophone after a spate of violent gannet attacks.
Before colours were discovered, silent films were shown in black and white. One was shown entirely in black, but this was deemed an unsuccessful experiment as no one could see anything. As a film critic commented at the time: 'I can't see anything.' Silent comedies became extremely popular, especially when in 1902 actor Hilary Pratt first slapped someone with a stick. Thus was coined the well-known phrase: 'film violence.'
Silent films disappeared when sound was made in 1925, and the era went the way of so many other eras of that era. Of course, silence is still used in films to this day, mainly between words or phrases, or when nothing much is going on.
In the following short film (or 'film short' for those of you), my comedic partner Andy King and I (almost named after a popular musical) present a warm tribute to this time of times. Pray silence then for 'King Dredge,' as we are called, and let us take you back to the olden days of yore. Possibly before yore, I'm not shore.