Flickchart Film School: 1922
The evolution of film hardly slowed down in 1922. In Russia, filmmaker Lev Kuleshov starting to experiment with a new editing technique called “montage”. The technique would be made popular by fellow Russian filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein in the upcoming years. Meanwhile in America, the first 3D feature film was shown to a paying audience. In Los Angeles, The Power of Love, which has since become a lost film, used red and green coloring and became the first film to use an early version of 3D glasses.
To help deal with the ever expanding world of film, The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, or the MPPDA, was created. General Will Hays, a former postmaster, headed the association, which is now known as the Motion Picture Association of America, or the MPAA. The organization became a censorship board to help self-monitor and clean up the film industry.
1922 also brought about some of the most famous names of the time into film. Rin Tin Tin, which was the first star dog of cinema, starred in The Man From Hell’s River. Rin Tin Tin helped the Warner Bros. studio from falling into bankruptcy and would make close to thirty films for the studio. The first film from the Little Rascal’s gang, One Terrible Day was released. The film became the first of six different films from the group in 1922 alone. Finally, Little Red Riding Hood, the first cartoon from Walt Disney, was made. The film was created in his own animation studio in Kansas before moving out to California.
The best film of 1922 as voted by the users of Flickchart is Nosferatu (available on Netflix Instant). With Nosferatu, director F.W. Murnau made the first ever vampire film, which borrows heavily from Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula”. Nosferatu is groundbreaking not only to horror films, but also to vampire culture in general, as it is the first account ever of vampires dying from exposure to sunlight.
In Nosferatu, Hutter, a real estate agent, is sent to Transylvania to help Count Orlok purchase a house back in Hutter’s hometown, Wisbourg, Germany. Hutter leaves his wife in Wisbourg and makes the trek to meet the count, where he finds out many of the nearby townspeople live in fear of the count’s castle. While in the castle, Hutter notices unusual things about the count, and believes that he may be selling a house to a vampire. The count does purchase a home near Hutter, yet Hutter must return home to save his wife from the vampire moving nearby.
Like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu uses shadow and the German Expressionist style to create an eeriness that works masterfully with the subject matter.
Nosferatu is considered by many to be one of the best “Dracula” adaptations and vampire films of all time. Nosferatu has influenced several other films based on Murnau’s film, such as Werner Herzog’s own take, Nosferatu the Vampyre, and Shadow of the Vampire, starring Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich. Shadow of the Vampire creates an alternate history where in Murnau, as played by Malkovich, casts Max Schreck as Count Orlok due to rumors that Schrek was an actual vampire.
Schrek’s performance as Orlok is one of the great cinematic villains and truly makes his take on the vampire a horrifying one. While Nosferatu is a film about Orlok, the character appears in the film for less than nine minutes. Schrek plays The Count with a simple, unblinking fierceness. Just a simple look from Schrek can chill to the bone with an intensity that made Count Orlok a film icon and makes this almost ninety year old film still one of the greatest horror classics of all time.
For those interested in more films from 1922, check out these films:
- Considered to be the first full-length documentary, Nanook of the North is also one of the best. Director Robert J. Flaherty follows an Eskimo family and documents a year in their life and their struggles to survive in their harsh climate.
- Called the first million-dollar film to come out of Hollywood is director Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives. The film, starring Stroheim, has him as a fake count that gets rich women to fall for him so that he can steal money from them.
- Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, a German film directed by Fritz Lang, is about the title character who tricks people out of their money and kills them, then eventually sees ghosts which subsequently makes him go crazy. The film, which was originally was four hours long, was cut into two pieces, with the second part, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, being released eleven years later.