Talk:Silent film

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Former good articleSilent film was one of the good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
October 24, 2005Good article nomineeListed
September 12, 2007Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article
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The Artist[edit]

Why was it removed from the list of highest grossing silent films? That is indeed its genre. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:28, 6 March 2012 (UTC)[]

Someone should convert gross income to a date similar to other silent movies, maybe see what it would have made in 1910ish.Jgold135 (talk) 11:45, 9 December 2013 (UTC)[]


Does anyone know if silent films from 1917 are still copyrighted? Can you use the name and premise for something like a broadway musical?

Chances are it is not. Most of the more obscure earlier silent films are probably in the public domain. Public domain is considered anything created 80 years ago or more. However, it's always good to find out first, and you can do that by checking out the website for the US Copyright office. They list items that may be copyrighted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:27, 6 March 2012 (UTC)[]

Who wrote[edit]

that motion-picture film technology was developed around 1860 ? The basic film invention by Hannibal Goodwin and the corresponding patent granted to him stem from 1887. Before that there is nothing like movies. Would the authors have the grace to first read about the subject, also Louis Le Prince ? --Filmtechniker 16:38, 3 February 2007 (UTC)[]

Top-grossing films list[edit]

What dollars are the grosses in? Real dollars? 2000? 2005? It would be nice to have both real dollars and, say, 2000 dollars, but that might be confusing for casual readers. I suggest only inflation-adjusted dollars for a recent year. --Tysto 06:02, 10 October 2005 (UTC)[]

  • An additional note to the above section: this articel contradicts The Big Parade which states that it " the highest grossing silent film in cinema history, taking in $22 million at the box office.", a drastic contradiction to this articels 6.4. 07:39, 8 February 2006 (UTC)[]
  • I'm also questioning this list. It needs to be clear about what period of time (initial release? Gross up to the end of the silent era? cumulative gross including releases up to today?) Also, there are other lists that dispute the order and amount for each gross. One example is at which lists the top 100 grossing films from domestic sales, adjusted for inflation. The only silent film to make the list was The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I'll continue looking, but this list should be pulled unless it can be sourced. - Joe JJC 22:05, 4 November 2006 (UTC)[]
  • After much searching, I found a page with the same list taken from Variety. I've cited it, but I still contend the list is wrong, probably even back when it was printed in '32. The site hosting the page points out that the publishers had a NPOV back then! Additionally, the article lists the gross earnings (most notably Wings) that might actually belong on the silents list by modern standards. Short of it, we know where it came from, but it ain't exactly authoritative.Joe JJC 18:54, 24 November 2006 (UTC)[]

According to Wiki's List of Highest Grossing Films and the Wiki page for the film Mickey (1918), Mickey was the highest grossing film of the silent era with $18,000,000.00 and remained the highest grossing film (silent or otherwise) until unseated by Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937. Number two was The Birth of a Nation (1915) with $10,000,000.00 (actual numbers not adjusted for inflation and are Worldwide statistics). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:17, 7 July 2010 (UTC)[]

Article Title Question[edit]

Isn't silent movie more adequate?

  • whats wrong with silent film? Wikipedia is generally forgiving of non-US English... Justinc 00:59, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Its also worth noting that because they were silent the actors could say anything - even swear!
Though my own local dialect uses "film", I'd be inclined to agree with the original sentiment. A film could be many things, not just a motion picture. But a movie is a movie. Even though they were all produced on film, using that as justification for the name is faulty logic: not everything recorded on a spooled strip of magnetic media is audio or even in a cassette (could be reel to reel computer data, video, etc) - but it's all "tape". The terms are ambiguous. Movie is precise, same as "audio cassette". ((yes yes i know you can put things other than audio on them as well, but that's the primary, 99%+ use)) (talk) 13:08, 28 October 2010 (UTC)[]

Gish, no chick list...[edit]

Why no mention of silent stars? Some of those chicks were truly exceptional...

I think a short list of the biggest silent stars would be useful to readers; if it got too big I can imagine a separate article on silent film stars. --Tysto 06:02, 10 October 2005 (UTC)[]

Silent film with Rube Goldberg device[edit]

About 15 years ago, I have seen an old classic short silent comedy film, where the hero had breakfast prepared by a complex machine. Can anyone tell me which one was it? I would add it to Rube Goldberg page. Samohyl Jan 16:43, 24 August 2005 (UTC)[]

That would be "It's a Gift" (1923)--Saxophobia 22:47, 24 June 2006 (UTC)[]

Photos of Silent Film actors[edit]

As a fairly new Wikipedian, I was hoping to spruce up some of the silent film actors' articles with photos, but after studying the image uploading copyright rules I am utterly terrified of putting any images in. Is any photo of a silent film actor taken before 1922 good to go? Can I just take any pre-1922 photo of say, Patsy Ruth Miller from a website and paste it into the article, or is the digital version of the photo copyrighted material by virtue of being on someone's website? I'm just looking for any shortcut other than e-mailing a lot of websites asking for permission (although most Silent Movie fans want to spread the word about their forgotten genre and probably don't mine sharing, some are very protective about their personal collections). I'll post a copy of this inquiry somewhere on the wikipedia image pages, too, and report back if i learn anything. Wencer 02:44, 8 October 2005 (UTC)[]

I think it is okay to use pre-1922 photos. If you do a Google Images search you might be bale to find some. Vagrant 03:25, 14 November 2005 (UTC)[]
If the photo isn't copyrighted, a digital scan of it can't be copyrighted either, at least not in the US. This is just the law, no matter what anyone may claim on their website or anywhere else. See Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.--Pharos 20:21, 23 January 2006 (UTC)[]

silent film list cleanup[edit]

The list is getting way too unwieldy and large for the good of the article. I don't think that it's really avoidable - there are a lot of worthy films from 1895 to 1930 which are notable. However, we already have years in film articles for every year which include lists of that year's notable films. Anything listed on this page but not on a year page should be added to the year page, and the notable list on this page should be deleted and replaced with a notice to see the year pages for notable films in the silent era. The only part of the list that merits saving would be silent films in the sound era, and that probably should be a list article linked to this article. Please let me know if you have any comments, otherwise I will implement this sometime in the next few weeks. Thanks, Girolamo Savonarola 00:38, 15 August 2006 (UTC)[]

Readers lose a lot with this cleanup[edit]

It was not *just* a list. It provided a timeline to see who and what was made when and pointed out some valuable connections between eras during a time of great change and innovation. For example, the films by William Desmond Taylor, or when Chaplin came on the scene. This seems like an example of editing Wikipedia for the specialists and experts while degrading the enjoyment and educational value for casual readers, IMHO. I miss the list!

  • It was unmaintainable and had no specific standards for inclusion - theoretically any "worthy" film from 1888 to 1927 could be included without a problem. That makes categorization a better choice than listing. The "[year] in film" articles provide a perfectly fine timeline of the progression of the artform while also better containing a list. Generally, articles which are not standalone lists should avoid long and extraneous lists dominating the page. See the Manual of Style for further info. Girolamo Savonarola 04:57, 6 September 2006 (UTC)[]

Found films[edit]

It's amazing (and, personally, I don't know how this can happend) that even today, old silent movies are discovered. Let's mention Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902): "a complete cut of the film was discovered in a French barn in 2002. It was an amazing discovery as it not only is the most complete cut of the movie, but was also entirely hand-colored. It was restored and premiered in 2003 at the Pordonone Silent Film Festival". I think that Joan of Arc (1927) should be in the list. I'm talking about the copy found in a hospital. Alex:D

I added in The Passion of Joan of Arc. Esn 11:11, 27 October 2006 (UTC)[]

GA Re-Review and In-line citations[edit]

Members of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles are in the process of doing a re-review of current Good Article listings to ensure compliance with the standards of the Good Article Criteria. (Discussion of the changes and re-review can be found here). A significant change to the GA criteria is the mandatory use of some sort of in-line citation (In accordance to WP:CITE) to be used in order for an article to pass the verification and reference criteria. Currently this article does not include in-line citations. It is recommended that the article's editors take a look at the inclusion of in-line citations as well as how the article stacks up against the rest of the Good Article criteria. GA reviewers will give you at least a week's time from the date of this notice to work on the in-line citations before doing a full re-review and deciding if the article still merits being considered a Good Article or would need to be de-listed. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us on the Good Article project talk page or you may contact me personally. On behalf of the Good Articles Project, I want to thank you for all the time and effort that you have put into working on this article and improving the overall quality of the Wikipedia project. Agne 04:44, 26 September 2006 (UTC)[]

Reasons for GA Delisting[edit]

This article's GA status has been revoked because it fails criterion 2. b. of 'What is a Good Article?', which states;

(b) the citation of its sources using inline citations is required (this criterion is disputed by editors on Physics and Mathematics pages who have proposed a subject-specific guideline on citation, as well as some other editors — see talk page).

LuciferMorgan 17:42, 8 November 2006 (UTC)[]

If it is currently disputed, then the delisting needn't occur until there is a consensus in favor of leaving the guidelines. I'm reinstating. Cbrown1023 01:54, 9 November 2006 (UTC)[]

Slow Projection Speed causes fire?[edit]

I understand the flammability issues of silver nitrate prints, but I'd be curious to see a citation for the assertion that projecting one print at 16 fps would be a seriously increased fire hazard. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 09:49, 7 December 2006 (UTC).[]

citation Girolamo Savonarola 23:40, 3 February 2007 (UTC)[]

Silent actors & actresses still living?[edit]

Aside from Mickey Rooney, are there any other actors or actresses from the silent era still living? MarcelloRubini 01:27, 2 January 2007 (UTC)[]

There is a Japanese actress still alive who started in silent films. Her name is Isuzu Yamada — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 6 March 2012 (UTC)[]

Silent films in the sound era[edit]

What about films which are entirely silent except for some opening narration? Chronopolis is one example - it has some opening narration and the rest of the film only contains music. Esn 07:41, 10 February 2007 (UTC)[]

Perhaps a mention of Ronnie Barker, and his (almost) silent films would be of interest: A Home of Your Own (1964), Futtock's End (1970), The Picnic (1975) and By the Sea (1982) Thehalfone 12:02, 2 June 2007 (UTC)[]

There seems to be some confusion in the "later homages" section this includes films like the ones listed above but also (as the title suggets) homages i.e. films that have the silent era as a theme within the composistion of the film. This area of the article and the "silent films in the sound era" needs tidying and reorganising. Perhaps a "silent films in the early sound era section. One for homages and another mentioning the continued role of films with very little or no dialogue. Idealy with a mention for Koyaanisqatsi —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pete the pitiless (talkcontribs) 22:07, 17 July 2009 (UTC)[]

The idea of silent film in the era of sound is interesting. How do we define it?
In this interview the actress Tilda Swinton defines silent movie as one without dialogue, not necessarily speech. I feel like suggesting that this definition could maybe be used in the article, even if it is just mentioned as a modern perception of silent film. (talk) 23:13, 13 August 2012 (UTC)[]

Famous films[edit]

What about a short list of the most famous and notable silent films made, even if they are not necessary the largest economical ressources? Like Metropolis (already mentioned, but not on the list), Nosferatu, A Trip to the Moon, Das Cabinet des dr. Caligari, The Gold Rush and A trip to the Moon? 02:48, 19 February 2007 (UTC)[]

See WP:NPOV. Girolamo Savonarola 13:08, 19 February 2007 (UTC)[]

Segundo de Chomón[edit]

Segundo de Chomón (see the Spanish wikipedia) was one of the most important pioneers in European film History. I think he deserves to have his own English page. There'are FREE licence films to watch on the internet by Chomón. Rohmerin 14:04, 1 July 2007 (UTC)[]

Please, have a loook to El Hotel eléctrico Rohmerin 14:39, 1 July 2007 (UTC)[]

GA status two years later[edit]

After reviewing this article, I've found it to violate a number of Good Article criteria, criteria which did not exist at the time of article's original GA nomination. That said, I thought I'd bring up my concerns here before either delsiting the article or nominating it for Good Article review. The problems with the article as I see them, are:

  • Insufficient lead section.
  • The first image lacks both a fair-use rationale and source information.
  • Way too many external links.
  • The prose is very listy in particular sections. I'd recommend turning those sections into prose, and perhaps creating a new article or category for mentioning every film that is currently bullet-pointed.
  • The article has a decent breadth of topic, but covers some of the topics without sufficient emphasis. The History section, for instance, could be expanded considerably.

Hopefully somebody can find some time to help this article out. Otherwise, I'll delist or nominate the article for GA review in a few days. Drewcifer 23:01, 30 August 2007 (UTC)[]

Based on the above, I've nominated this article for Good Article review. Contributors and original reviewers alike are welcome to contribute to the discussion concerning this article's GA status. Drewcifer 04:01, 7 September 2007 (UTC)[]
The result of the review was to Delist. An archive of the discussion can be found here. Drewcifer 01:47, 12 September 2007 (UTC)[]

Image copyright problem with File:Achmed1.jpg[edit]

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Appeal for contributions to a "Range of subject matter, film styles, etc" section[edit]

A few years ago I was surprised to find out about the range of different types of film made in the silent era. This article could do with a short section showing that slient films were not all fictional action comedies but serious fiction documentaries and historical subjects were tactled for example F.R. Benson's "Richard III" (1911) [1], the documentary Haxan Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922) or the historical film The Battleship Potemkin. Also I changed a section yesterday which suggested that the acting employed in Metropolis was thoughtless whereas it was arguably deliberatly anti realistic (see the article on German Expressionism). A section highlighting the range of different film making styles and experimantation in film [2]of the time would reduce this sort of confusion and help show readers why silent film is still so valued by many and misunderstood by others.

pete the pitiless —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pete the pitiless (talkcontribs) 12:34, 18 July 2009 (UTC)[]


"Live Music and Sound"[edit]

This section contains the following, "A watershed event in this context was Francis Ford Coppola's 1980 restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927) with a live orchestral score composed by his father Carmine Coppola." First, Kevin Brownlow and Carl Davis are responsible for the work placed in restoring and presenting silent films with live orchestral accompaniment. Secondly, Coppola didn't restore Napoleon, it's the work of Kevin Brownlow. Coppola got the rights to handle a U.S. distributed version, featuring music from his father, which he re-edited (cut), tinted badly, and ran at the wrong speed. Coppola will not permit any other version, including Brownlow's substantial subsequent work on the film, to see the light of day in America. Brownlow's most recent 2000 restoration has only played publicly a few times (Coppola threatened a lawsuit in 2004.) JonasEB (talk) 11:23, 29 June 2010 (UTC)[]

New article = Richard Smith (Silent film director)[edit]

New article, created, at Richard Smith (Silent film director). Additional assistance in research would be appreciated, feel free to help out at the article's talk page. Cheers, -- Cirt (talk) 16:05, 11 February 2011 (UTC)[]


"The following list includes only films produced in the sound era with the specific artistic intention of being silent."

This is not true. During the transition period, both silent and sound films were produced, or silent films were made with some sound. City Girl was produced as a part sound film, for example. This was because many theatres had not yet converted to sound and therefore still needed product, and the film industries of many other countries would not get sound for some years. Most european countries got sound around 1930, while in Asia, Japan, China/HK and India are all countries where notable silent films continued to be made right into the 30s, and indeed Sound films were not popular in Japan until the second half of that decade. In Russia, silent films were still in circulation for decades after the coming of sound. Only Chaplin's films on that list could be considered to have 'the specific artistic intention of being silent', and by Modern Times (a sound film without dialogue), this could be argues to be a homage.

I suggest this section is changed to indicate that the transition to sound was far slower in many territories than suggested here, both in the US and around the world, and that notable silent films continued to be produced during this time, such as those on the list. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jeffcb25 (talkcontribs) 20:39, 11 September 2011 (UTC)[]

Top grossing silent films in the United States[edit]

I think, maybe, we should adjust the dollar amounts for inflation. If we were only talking about movies from the Silent Era, it would be one thing, but Silent Movie and The Artist are also included (rightfully, as they are indeed silent films). Since they were made far later than the others, it doesn't seem very informative not to adjust the dollar amounts. A more-or-less obscure film like The Artist just doesn't compete with The Birth of a Nation in terms of sales. Noz92 (talk) 22:21, 8 February 2012 (UTC)[]

If you can find a reliable source for that kind of information that would be good. In the meantime it feels awkward having a list made of films from the '20s and then one or two contemporary ones. Perhaps just a separate note about The Artist would work better. SQGibbon (talk) 14:10, 25 March 2012 (UTC)[]
The section could be renamed "Top grossing US films of the silent era" if the 1930s onward are to be excluded. Note that economists disagree regarding the proper way to represent 1920s-era dollars in today's currency... so much change has occurred! It's easier to compare dollars between today and Mel Brooks's work in 1976. Binksternet (talk) 17:04, 25 March 2012 (UTC)[]

This can't be right[edit]

"By the height of the silent era, movies were the single largest source of employment for instrumental musicians"

Most movie theatres would have employed a single musician - an organist, most often. At the same time, vaudeville was still active, if in a secondary role, and a small orchestra would have played for the singers and dancers. And any non-movie theatre would have had an orchestra as well. There is no citation for this claim. (talk) 05:35, 1 December 2012 (UTC)[]

Various sources discuss this theme:
  • "For three decades silent film provided high levels of steady employment to musicians and this sector was the union's power base." The Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History, page 677
  • "...whereas over 20,000 musicians had been employed in movie theaters across the country, by 1931 that number was only 9,885..." Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History, page 116
  • "The number of musicians employed in the cinema was huge, and its impact on musicians' lives extended across many countries of the world. As Cyril Ehrlich has expressed it, 'Silent films functioned as if they had been designed to create jobs." Performing Music in the Age of Recording, page 13
  • "Prior to the 1927 release of the Jazz Singer, the first talking picture, movie theaters employed tens of thousands of musicians nationally to provide musical accompaniment to silent films." Encyclopedia of United States labor and working-class history, page 81
It seems to me that you are laboring under two incorrect impressions: a) that only one musician played, and b) that only films were shown in theaters. Many theaters had a band play for the films, and the showing of films was often interspersed with live performances which also needed musicians. It was only toward the end of the 1920s when theater organs began replacing bands. The era of theater organs was brief; it was followed shortly by sound films. Binksternet (talk) 17:42, 1 December 2012 (UTC)[]


Thank goodness the article is not claiming anymore that there were absolutely no standardized (recording) framerates whatsoever, as it did for years by misinterpreting various sources on non-standardized projection speeds. However, it still claims that there was no standard (recording) framerate(s) prior to the introduction of 24fps with talkies, and the places where it does are not authoritatively sourced so they reek like OR to me.

There are a number of contemporary and later sources that clearly speak of 16fps as the contemporary (silent) recording standard between circa 1905 and 1930 (except for intentional slomo and timelapse). AFAIK, even before WWI not only projectors but also many or even most cameras were fitted with Geneva drives that by their design prevented both accidental overcranking and undercranking, so the unsourced statement in the article that "accidental" overcranking or undercranking was "common" looks rather fishy to me. Keep in mind that an eternity in film technology advances separates the 1880s or 1890s from the 1910s, so what a source may state for the beginning of that period is not necessarily true for its tail end, and the remaining existence in shrinking numbers of non-standard cameras up to WWI or longer does not vindicate the broad claim that there was no standard yet.

Additionally, the statement about color film and 1909 seems a bit misplaced in the Tinting section, as the statement referring to 1909 refers to natural color film, not tinting the entire frame in one color in post. Not to mention that it's wrong to say that natural color film only started to be developed in 1909. Two-color Kinemacolor was used for commercial productions since 1906, and was based upon Edward Raymond Turner's three-color process invented in 1902. -- (talk) 17:01, 27 March 2015 (UTC)[]

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"Cameramen were in error"[edit]

The claim that "cameramen were in error" when they said that they were filming at 16fps is utter nonsense. If they'd really "cranked faster or slower" as the article claims, exposure would've been much more uneven, in fact the films would've been unwatchable. From the invention of shutter blade projectors onwards, flicker was only introduced by improper telecines to video, while modern telecines of 1910s and 1920s original camera negatives show extraordinarily constant exposure. This was, as another entry on this talk page already mentions, due to Geneva drives in film cameras that allowed for exact framerates no matter whether the operator would involunatrily vary their cranking speed, as Geneva drives had been in use for the same reason of maintaining exact speed in clocks and watches for centuries no matter what tension the spring was at.

Furthermore, the source[1] used for this claim that "cameramann were in error" about their own work clearly confuses recording speed with projection speed and was written in 1980, when there were no digital framebuffers yet by which a speed of 16fps could properly be rendered within a 25fps or 30fps video. In fact, the electronic video artifacts that came from the lack of digital framebuffers (interlacing scanlines becoming unnaturally visible) make up a significant part of the source and why its author claims that 16fps would've never been a silent film standard, next to how the author confuses standard recording speed with intentional slo-mo, timelapse, and overcranked projection speed for commercial reasons of cinema owners (as the faster the projectionist would crank the projector, the more showings could be squeezed into one day). --2003:71:4E07:BB09:FC3A:9551:4E36:AD36 (talk) 05:07, 25 November 2017 (UTC)[]

Intertitles Plagiarism[edit]

It looks like the section on intertitles is largely plagiarized from a book or document by Nicolae Sfetcu called The Art of Movies. I found it in Google Books. This book/document isn't in WorldCat, so I need to dig deeper to figure out what exactly it is. I don't have time to rewrite the section right now, so if someone want to take a crack at it, please do. Otherwise, I'll circle back.ActionableIdeas (talk) 17:47, 8 November 2019 (UTC)[]