When I was younger, I was obsessed with miniature stuff. My Dad had made me a dollhouse. I loved it, with it’s little rooms, ladder to get to the second story, and red chimney. The only purchased items for it were wooden dishes and a Trivial Pursuit game. I made the bedding and furniture (with a little sewing from my Mom) out of old clothes and rags, wood scraps, and cardboard, hung up “wall decorations” made from magazines and old necklace pendants and the like, and made my little bear and rabbit families magazines and books to read. I still have all of it, even those little magazines and books I carefully cut out and stapled together and even wrote titles on. It’s all kept active at my parents’ house, where my niece now gets to live out her own little world.
I say I was obsessed, but I still kind of am. I don’t own or collect any miniature items or dollhouse furniture now, but when I find it at antique stores, I still take it in with a wide-eyed fascination.
Left: Departures and arrivals at the train station./Right: The train yard.
Attention spans are wonderful things. Too bad they are noticeably lacking in society today. I would appreciate even a small attention span, going to dinner with someone or walking along having a conversation without them looking at their cell phone, sitting down to watch a movie in its entirety without needing to log on to the Internet, and so on. So I’m reaching here when I suggest watching silent films. An activity that not only requires one to read (how dare I suggest such a thing), but paying attention to body language, facial expressions, and a story entirely dependent upon the viewer actually grasping it. Plus, there are no explosions to distract you and no computer generated creatures to stifle your own creative insights. Forgive me for wanting you to use basic reasoning skills, an imagination, and an awareness while viewing a film.
I thought I would start with a couple of my favorite horror films. (With other installments for other genres to come.) If you are of the minority (as I am) and love silent films, then you most definitely know about Nosferatu (1922) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). If you are of the other or some how think silent movies are “dumb” or “too old”, then you are greatly missing out (and mistaken).
For those who haven’t seen Nosferatu, it is the story of Dracula. Pretty simple. Although it is a German expressionist film, it doesn’t carry heavy signs of it. That fact makes it no less beautiful in it’s scenery and lighting, nor it’s artistry. The use of shadows, sweeping shots of the sea, and towering buildings all speak to an expressionist subtlety.
He’s coming for you.