The Return of “Wings” (1927)
The first and thought to be only silent film to win the Best Picture Oscar in 1929 along with Best Special Effects. Until The Artist (2011) swept the board at this years Oscars. Wings (1927) is a part of Paramount’s restoration programme of a number of films being restored. Wings being the only silent so far. Is this an early indication, besides the triumph of The Artist that the silent film has a place in contemporary film? I would like to think that beyond nostalgia silent films could be resurfacing more often.
Or is it a fluke with Wings being released remastered on Blu-ray as apart of Paramount’s centenary celebrations. Only time will tell. Will its release encourage more silent films to be remastered, be that including the BFI‘s remastering of Hitchcock’s early films from his British period Champagne (1928) and Blackmail (1929).
The Artist was seen as a love letter to Hollywood film set on the cusp of the sound era. It’s been proven that silent films can still draw the crowds. Some may say that being a love letter, the Oscar voters were smitten to vote for, a form of flattery. However if the music, action, plot etc are compelling enough, we will engage as an audience with a silent film.
There’s also the novelty factor, seeing a silent is at the moment rare unless you seek out the films that have been archived well across the world, such the full version of Metropolis (1927) found in South America a few years ago. From these silent films, we may find something lacking in todays films, with all the drive for maximum profit and blockbuster films that can lack the substance of a classic of the early sound era. That could just be taste.
I can’t wait to see where this release will take the film industry, more silent films being made, or the classics being restored; cultivating a small but strong following of fans who have been wait for such an opportunity to come to a store near them.