Monday, April 6, 2009

The Crowd



This film is one of the all time classics of cinema. Made in 1928, it follows the life of a «nobody» born on July 4 who has asperations of grand things in his life. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he does not really distinguish himself from the crowd or society, which in this film becomes a character in of itself, always present and taking away his space, always surrounding him and restricting his movements in some way.

The lead character is (played by James Murry) and, in fact, the whole story is morally ambiguous. He seems a total egotisical jerk really, concerned only with his own delusions that he is better than everyone else. Somehow... he has no clear idea how or why. His life is a mess and so tragic you can’t help but feel not only sorry for him but for yourself. Who amoung us hasn’t has big dreams only to find they were in fact, impossible to reach no matter what efforts made? He and us all have to learn to live in the world we get, not the one the one we wish we could live in. As a result, the film is thoughtfully indifferent to him all the way to the happy/bitter end.

Visually, the direction by King Vidor is outstanding and the effects top-of-the-line. Some fo the images so powerful they stick on your head long after the film is done. For me the shot of the parents in the window watching helplessly as thier daughter is accidently hit by traffic, the father moments ago waving a doll he bought her now slumped against the window with the doll hanging lifeless in his hand show just how powerful silent films were and still are to those of us open enough to watch them. Director Jean Luc Godard was asked once why films about ordinary people were not being made. He responded with "Why remake «The Crowd?» It has already been done".

The one terrible thing about this film is that, somehow, it is not on DVD.The lack of certain films updated and restored to the current format is, in my opinion, an abuse of the film going public. In fact only recently did we get good copies of «Metrolpolis» (which will be updated further with 10 minutes of newly found footage I have heard) and «Pandora’s Box». Who knows when or even if this film will be in our homes in the future.