• Mon, Feb 11 2013

Check Out This Mesmerizing Early Kodachrome Film

There is an early kodachrome film from 1922 right here, and a lady in it is “vamping!” Watching the actress in this, I keep thinking of Norma Desmond’s statement that, back in the days of silent film, “we didn’t need dialogue, we had faces.” See how the actress flutters? And puckers! And transforms from an innocent young girl, to a mother, to a seductress (I mean, her hair does change entirely when she becomes a seductress, so in addition to faces perhaps Norma Desmond’s ilk also required “a bunch of red hair dye”).

According to Slate:

Even more interesting to a modern viewer [than the flickering film] are the women’s gestures. They act out fluttery, innocent modesty; warm maternal love; and in the longest sequence, sexy, puckered-lip vamping. Their open expressions of feeling and the particular way they move their hands and tilt their heads, even more than the fashions of their clothes and makeup, immediately mark them as women of the interwar period. Recently a Russian film scholar, Oksana Bulgakowa, has shown how various feelings and meanings were coded in the gestures of early film actors. Some of these are so unfamiliar now, they seem like a foreign language.

Check them out, see if you need dialogue:

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