OPINION: Why it is important for acting students and audiences to view silent films

Students planning on acting professionally have to learn and prepare, both physically and mentally when playing a character. One of these preparations is learning to capture the body language of a character. It is essential for students who want to act to study silent movies as a stepping stone to learn how to add body language as an aspect to a performance. In addition, it is crucial for audience-goers to view them to see how a character can be understood without words.

It may be only a small addition to acting, but it will make performances more lively.

Look at a character’s actions in a movie with sound, like “The Lord of the Rings”. Words are not needed, when Sam puts himself between Frodo and any danger which comes their way and literally carries Frodo when he needs it.

If “The Lord of the Rings” films were silent movies, the way Sam physically acts with and around Frodo is enough to communicate a story.

After dominating the film industry in the 1910s and 1920s, the presentation of silent films seems to be a lost art. As film has evolved over the past century, the unique presentation of the silent film has been modernly used as a form of storytelling.

In these films, there are no words spoken at appropriate points to advance the plot; the advancement comes from how the actors physically interact with each other and their environment.

There are a few more modern films which use this form, and have been considered amazing movies, if not, modern classics, even by today’s standards, such as “The Artist” and “A Quiet Place” and “The Kid.”

It’s in movies like these where I feel acting students can learn and grow from and where audiences can learn to decipher how a story will play out.