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Film: From Silent to Sound

Essay by review  •  December 27, 2010  •  Essay  •  698 Words (3 Pages)  •  922 Views

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When film first came about, there was no sound attached. just the projector playing. There were no add ons, no speakers, nothing to connect the words and the actors, except for the dark screen with the letters that came up every so often at unnecessary parts. The actors could not rely on these written words. The words were in their eyes and their movements, their expressions. They were a step above the mime, for they had props, but that was all. There was a different style, to the soundless film. A style that could only be represented through a picture book. As technology progressed, though, sound came about, and became connected with the images upon the screen. The old style was tossed aside, a bit too hastily to pick out the gems, and a new style, closer to actual life and full of countless new possibilities, was born.

In the late '20s, the rush of the popularity of film with sound, or "talkies", pushed aside the silent films. The people wanted the new films, they were ready for a new style. Unfortunately, some talented actors were pushed away along with the silent films. In talkies, the actor performs with everything given to him, the body and the voice. Silent actors, though, used only the body. They had been trained to make do without words, and thus developed a new art form. The actors in these films were very talented in what they did, but this talent was, according to the public, no longer necessary. These actors tried to adapt. Many succeeded, but many failed. Heart-throbs, like John Gilbert, were thought to be strong and masculine, as their characters portrayed. However, their voices were not so tough. People were disappointed, to find their heroes to be less than they expected, with lighter, softer voices. Their images were ruined, and they were laughed at. There were also actors who were only used for their beauty. In silent films, the women were always nice to look at, the men were strong an handsome. When called to use their voices, some actors just could not. Never before had they been given lines to memorize, so the dialogue was just too much.

Though actors were lost, opportunities opened. Al Jolson's 1927 movie, The Jazz Singer, paved the way. With sound, a new thing could be implemented in film: singing. Singers could bring their careers to film, and actors could display their singing talents. Talking films had already been made before the movie, but Jolson's popularity as a singer really brought



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