Silent Movies Review
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Every year, movies seem to get bigger, bolder, and more extravagant. Each movie seems to try to outdo everything that came before—with a bigger budget, more effects, a more impressive set, a more majestic score. And moviegoers seem obsessed with big: big movies, big sound, big stars. Meanwhile, as filmmakers and movie lovers obsess over the Next Big Thing, the history of film is slowly disintegrating—and much of it is already lost forever.

In his book, Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture, Peter Kobel—with the help of the Library of Congress—brings early films, along with their stars and their directors, back to life. This comprehensive volume tells the fascinating story of the birth of film—from the race to invent the first moving picture to the early studios to the spectacular films that few of today’s movie buffs have ever seen or even heard of. Retelling three decades of generally forgotten film history, Silent Movies is packed with fascinating information and interesting stories about film’s early days. While reading, you’ll be introduced to the great silent film stars and the first big directors. You’ll learn about films from around the world, as well as those from the United States. And, perhaps best of all, you’ll get to see hundreds of stills and posters and other promotional images from the Library of Congress film archives.

It’s clear that Kobel did his homework in writing and researching Silent Movies. The book relates a whole lot of information—and it’s pretty overwhelming if you try to sit down and read it from cover to cover. It’s not the kind of light reading that you’re going to pack in your carryon and read on the plane—not just because it’s a massive coffee table book but also because there’s so much information to process. For that reason, it’s best to pick it up from time to time and study it—from the stories that Kobel tells to the stunning artwork.

It’s also clear that Kobel truly loves and appreciates the book’s subject matter. While he sometimes passes judgement, calling certain films “worthless,” he often gushes about the beauty and brilliance of other early films—and his enthusiasm is contagious. After reading through Silent Movies, you’ll have a whole new understanding of the movie business—and a whole new appreciation for silent films. And that makes this informative and eye-opening book a fascinating read for any film buff.

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