The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Art of Cinema #36

Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ
(Fred Niblo; 1926)


Rob said...

I thought Novarro was just riveting in that film - his best work. I always thought he was perfect as a Silent visual interpretor. He seemed more real to me as young film-goer, and when I saw Ben-Hur later, it reminded me of this impression.


swac said...

I love the silent Ben Hur, I've been lucky enough to see it on the big screen (although without the Technicolor inserts, darnit) and it was completely captivating, due in large part to the performances of Navarro and Francis X. Bushman.

Filmmakers seem to forget that no matter how epic your project is, you need a strong, yet human, performance at the centre of it to make it truly great. That's why Lawrence of Arabia is a masterpiece and, say, Alexander, is not (although the performances may be one of the lesser problems with that particular butt numb-er).

Not too long ago I got the urge to watch Ben Hur again, and pulled out my MGM laserdisc copy, only to discover that one side of it had succumbed to the dreaded laser rot. Argh! However, I've heard that there is a new deluxe Ben Hur set on the way, with the Wyler remake as an added bonus to the Niblo original.

Oh yeah, < /sarcasm>