Monday, October 26th, 2009...8:03 pm

Giving Voice to Silent Film

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paradeFilmmaker and film historian Kevin Brownlow has spent over forty years working tirelessly to preserve and document the age of silent cinema.  In the 1960′s he began to interview hundreds of people associated with the era. From actors and directors to stuntmen and technicians, he realized that a whole generation of knowledgeable artists was beginning to pass into history, taking their stories with them. His efforts resulted in the 1968 publication of The Parade’s Gone By… and it remains, even today, perhaps the most important book ever written about the period.

The book is filled with rare photographs which include portraits, production stills, and even frame by frame analysis of the editing in certain film scenes to illustrate how a certain stunt was accomplished. Brownlow studied studio documents, personal correspondence and contemporary publications during his research, but it is the interviews that make this book so valuable. They provide an incredible window into the era. These firsthand accounts are told with passionate detail and a sense of gratitude that someone finally took the time to ask. These oral histories, whether from big name directors such as Clarence Brown, or stuntmen like Eddie Sutherland, bring this lost era back to life.

The Parade’s Gone By…is a must read for any aspiring filmmaker. Kevin Brownlow has created an important collection of primary source documents for anyone interested in researching silent films. Those with a more casual interest will be captivated by the author’s enthusiasm for his subject, and the fascinating details and insights provided by these artists of a sadly forgotten era.

This book is available for check out at the Midlothian Campus library. You can access the John Tyler library catalog here.

2 Comments

  • Thanks for this window into the silent film era.

  • You’re welcome.
    Brownlow is such a great advocate for silent film preservation and his work continues on today as he is involved with several ongoing restoration projects.

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