Any time is appropriate to watch a silent film, but this month might be especially good to do so. Too few people have seen works from the first 30-plus years of film history – a real shame, given the treasures that exist. Watching a silent film is a different experience than catching a talkie, but, once you get past the initial strangeness, you find yourself amazed at how much can be conveyed without dialogue.
Tulsa’s Circle Cinema makes your entry into the world of silent film easy by screening three classics. The theater’s usual Second Saturday Silents on Oct. 12 features arguably one of the greatest films ever made, Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. Sure, it’s a favorite of film scholars – you can see film language evolving onscreen – but the story of Russian sailors rebelling against unfair conditions packs an emotional punch, too. Plus, the endlessly influential “Odessa Steps” sequence has to be seen on the big screen.
In time for Halloween, Circle also has two silent horror films Oct. 21 and 28; first comes the German Expressionist film Der Golem, then Lon Cheney’s The Phantom of the Opera.
Staying with the theme of older entries in the horror genre, Criterion releases this month, for the first time ever, the complete set of original Godzilla films, produced by the Japanese studio Showa from 1954 to 1975. Yes, the special effects feel dated and an air of cheesiness permeates the films, but they’re also spectacularly fun and contain pointed commentaries on social and environmental issues. Watch Godzilla battle old favorites like Mothra and Mechagodzilla, along with lesser-known foes, such as the giant crustacean Ebirah. Like all Criterion releases, this set comes packed with extras, including interviews with film critics and even Ishiro Honda, director of many of the Godzilla films, and documentaries on the making of the films. All this comes packaged in one of the coolest box sets produced in some time, featuring lush illustrations of Godzilla.
If you are ready to get weird, two films this month should scratch your itch for the bizarre. First up is Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, described as a World War II satire in which Waititi plays a young boy’s imaginary friend (who happens to be Hitler). Waititi is best known for Thor Ragnarok, but his dry, hilarious What We Do in the Shadows showed what he could do with offbeat, dark comedy.
Also promising oddness is Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse, filmed in black and white and featuring Robert Pattinson and Willem Defoe talking to each other in old-timey accents. Not much is known of the film’s plot at the time of this writing, but the film has a bonkers trailer, as well as the merits of Egger’s debut film, the creepy, historical, horror film The VVitch.