Civil War Films of the Silent Era

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

I am always pleased to see more silent films released on our beloved format, so I was looking forward to Image Entertainment’s release of three silent pieces on this disc. The disc is called Civil War Films of The Silent Era and as you can imagine, all three of these works deal with that infamous conflict. On this disc you’ll find a full length feature in The Coward, as well as two shorter pieces in The Drummer of The 8th and Granddad. This is a very nice selection of silent films and in truth, ones I wasn’t too familiar with. But I was glad to check them out here and in the end, they were well worth the time and effort. I suppose my tastes in silent cinema run a little different than these pieces, but I still found them to be interesting, just not what I might usually watch. So these won’t be of interest to everyone, but I am positive there’s an audience for this material, especially among real film fans. This will worth a look for Civil War buffs and silent cinema lovers, as well as anyone interested in film as a whole. I recommend this disc with no real hesitations, a very well put together disc with some worthwhile features. Below is a listing and synopsis for the three pieces found on this disc.

1. The Coward- This film was released in 1915 and runs seventy-seven minutes. This is the story of a Colonel and his young son, who have very different perspectives when it comes to the brutal war that surrounds them. The father is a veteran and longs to return to the battles, but is deemed too old and that doesn’t sit well with him in the least. The son however has no plans to fight and when he is forced to, he runs away and leaves his fellow soldiers behind. But when a couple strange twists come about, it seems like both men learn a lot about themselves and each other.

2. The Drummer of The 8th- This short film was made in 1913 and runs twenty-five minutes. This piece tells the story of a young man who runs away from home to enlist, where he serves as a drummer boy. Now this might sounds like a safe position, but soon he is wounded in battle and is taken prisoner by the enemy forces. But even in this dark time, he thinks of his role in the battle and begins to formulate an escape plan.

3. Granddad- This short film was made in 1913 and runs twenty-nine minutes. This excellent short film deals with an old Union veteran, who spends more time with the bottle than he does much of anything else. He spends his time telling stories about his experiences and listening to others’ stories also, but his time has begun to run out, when his son marries a prude of a woman. She disapproves of the old man’s booze habit and quicker than not, he ends up in the run down county poor house. But the man’s story is far from over, as a visit from someone from his past could bring him a final stint of peace, if even if this person comes from behind enemy lines.

Video: How does it look?

The three films are shown full frame, which preserves the intended viewing form. Now these films were made back in 1915 or before and they show some signs of age, but on the whole, these are very good transfers. Of course some debris, scratches, and the like are present, but these look cleaner than I expected, much cleaner in fact. I saw no problems in terms of compression, although some scenes show some edge enhancement, but it is not that distracting in the end. The contrast looks smooth, which is vital on black & white materials and detail looks pretty solid also. In the end, these look a lot better than I expected and I think silent films fans will be very pleased.

Audio: How does it sound?

The only audio present is a stereo soundtrack, which provides some musical backdrops for the pieces. I found no flaws with this presentation, the music is crisp and vibrant at all times. The style seems to fit the films well also, which is also very important. It sounds good and it seems appropriate, not much else to discuss on this front, now is there?

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc contains no bonus materials.

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