Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the Week: "A Cottage On Dartmoor" (Anthony Asquith, 1929)

This is a darkly fascinating British silent film that appeared on DVD for the first time last year and has yet to receive the press and discussion it deserves, at least in the general public. Its restoration premiered at Cannes in 2005 and moved onto several other festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival where I was lucky to see it with live orchestration. I haven’t seen the film since then, but its unique images and sharp storytelling has stuck with me ever since. Director Anthony Asquith would go on to direct Pygmalion (1938) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), both available on DVD through Criterion, but neither of those good films approach the flare and brains shown in A Cottage On Dartmoor. Visually reflective of German Expressionism with a more classical narrative, A Cottage On Dartmoor came out near the end of “The Silent Era” and highlights many techniques that would become prominent in sound film. More than just an important film, A Cottage On Dartmoor is a remarkable silent thriller; it may be a recent rediscovery, but it is a must see.

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