Silent Films Vs. Today's moviesIn your ophinion are silent films from the early 1900's or today's movie better and why?
Applying a blanket value to all silent films and all contemporary films will lead us to generalize to an absurd degree. There are certainly plenty of silent films that are better and more entertaining than some of the B movies that are being released today just as there are some high quality films being released today that are better than the worst silent films of the silent era.
If we ask "Are the best silent films better than today's best films?" we will still have a difficult task in making a comparison, but we'd have a better starting point, I think. My inclination, if this were the question, would be to say that today's films are better. This is just an opinion, however, based mostly on my own ideas of what is entertaining and not so much on the artistic qualities of cinematic works from the past or the present.
When we talk about the art of the cinema, it seems to me that movies are like paintings and, essentially, art is art and it doesn't get better it just expands.
The problem with our attempts to watch old silent movies today is that we have no way to put them into their proper context.
If we started out watching the very first silent movies, which were really nothiing more than silent reenactments of stage plays or short novelties and watched nothing else for a few years, we'd then find that some of the silent movies of the late teens and early twenties were magnificent works of art.
Most of the cinematic narrative devices that we take for granted today had already been used and developed before sound became commonplace.
Because of their novelty, silent films perhaps transfixed their audiences to a greater degree than modern films do. Birth of a Nation, which of course portrayed an absolutely deplorable message, even by the standards of some of its contemporaries, nevertheless evoked shouts, wails, and occasionally mob violence from its audiences. There are those who argue that the subtleties of silent films make them a superior art form to "talkies." I don't agree with this, I would take a more nuanced position similar to some others in the thread.
It would be interesting to see what it would be like if they made silent movies today with today's special effects and production values. I think that one reason old silent movies look so dumb is because they were made so differently. That said, they do look silly from today's perspective and I think that modern movies are more interesting because of it.
Wasn't the Oscar winner this year a silent film? The Artist? Did I imagine that? I do think that silent films made today would be very different. When silent films were invented, the film industry was new. They were trying out technology then, but also the medium of film. Now they are trying different things with the medium.
You're comparing apples and oranges - they are completely different items, even if you call both categories "movies." There is no reasonable basis of comparison because the techniques of filming, the quality of the special effects, the manner of portraying the action and emotion of the story - all are completely different.
Overall, I prefer modern movies to silent flicks but, having taken silent film courses in college, I can assure you that many of them are still more entertaining than some films made today. The films of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd still stand up to most anything made in the 21st century.