Bristol Silents’ Top Ten Christmas Gifts for 2012

Well here we go again, another Christmas is upon us and there are so many things which we are able to recommend to you for Christmas (if you haven’t already bought them)! This list can either help friends or family on what to get that particular silent film buff or it can help yourself to decide what you should get for yourself…

To be honest, most of us have done our Christmas shopping already; we just need to buy everyone else’s now! So our top ten items for Christmas 2012 are the following (in no particular order):

The Artist (2011) (Entertainment in Video DVD & Blu-Ray) (Plus Soundtrack)

We might as well start how 2012 started and the year started with a bang in the shape of Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist. It’s not really a big surprise that this makes our list really is it? A year ago a lot of us (mainly in the UK) were all gearing up to see the film and prayed to the Cinema Gods that a silent film would rampage through the 2012 Oscars (is it really that long ago now).

The Artist doesn’t need any kind of introduction now does it? If you still haven’t heard about it, then where have you been?

A major recommendation from most of us at Bristol Silents; although there are a few of us who still think it really wasn’t all that good. We will let you decide. Either that or just buy the soundtrack, that wasn’t too bad either!

Die Nibelungen (1924) (Masters of Cinema DVD / Blu-Ray)

Another DVD/Blu-Ray this time and another major release for many of us; Fritz Lang’s epic Die Nibelungen (1924) had been on the cards for a Masters of Cinema release for quite some-time (nearly as long as Euerka’s Masters of Cinema DVD label had been around to be honest) and we were all thrilled when the collection was announced earlier on in the year. By the time the set landed on our desks we took the rest of the day off and crashed in front of our TVs (and projector screens; you know you are) and were thrilled on how amazing the quality of the print was and the music.

The extras aren’t too bad either! But it all comes down to how important the films are and as the superb DVD boutique label website states:
‘Perhaps the most stately of Fritz Lang’s two-part epics, the five-hour Die Nibelungen is a courageous and hallucinatory work, a film in which every single shot might alone endure as an exemplar of visual art. Its extraordinary set-pieces, archetypal themes, and unrestrained ambition have proven an inspiration for nearly every fantasy cycle that has emerged on-screen since – from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings.’

An incredible set of films and a fantastic release!

Colour Films in Britain: The Negotiation of Innovation 1900-1955 by Sarah Street (BFI & Palgrave Macmillan)

We’ve always wanted to have a book about the history and development of British Colour Films in British Cinema and Sarah Street (Bristol University) hits all our targets.

What we are able to find within the pages of the new book is a fantastic resource of who and what was involved in the development of colour film and how filmmakers used it. With this, we also get to celebrate a local hero, Bristol born William Friese-Greene and his son Claude! More about early colour film next year…

One extra note, it’s worth checking out the recently published Moving Color by Joshua Yumibe if you want to know about colour film in the early stages of cinema.

Slapstick Festival 2013 Pass or Tickets

Well we had to have something Slapstick Festival related in the list didn’t we?! And to be honest, we couldn’t think of no other way to get rid of the post-holiday blues but buying tickets for our 9th Slapstick Festival!

On top of all this, the festival has a fantastic cast of super guests this year and a fantastic selection of silent comedy screenings. Don’t forget about the classic Slapstick Gala Night on the Friday; the super Slapstick Sunday at the Bristol Old Vic and the many other events we have planned!

On top of all this, you also get to meet some fantastic fellow silent film fans and get the chance to try out the festival’s very own Slapstick Black and White Beers! And if you plan to come to the entire festival, just buy the Festival Pass; it’s far cheaper! So get booking now!

BFI100 Silent Films by Bryony Dixon (BFI & Palgrave Macmillan)

Alright, so we had this particular book in our 2011 Christmas list but it has been one of the most recent books which we have kept delving into for the entire year; 100 Silent Films by Bryony Dixon has been very much a bible to many of us and one of the key books in which we have suggested to many new Bristol Silents followers (don’t forget the great books written by Kevin Brownlow and David Robinson as well however). But as we stated last time…..

“Whether you’re a silent film novice or a full blown expert (many of our experts have a copy of this already we must add) this great little book is most certainly worth getting, why? Well, the major point comes down to the fact that it covers all the big and small films of the silent era. And what an eye opener the book is.

Written by the Head of the BFI’s Silent Film Archive, Bryony Dixon, I can’t see a reason not to have this great book on your bookshelf. Shame it is a small book (as in size, not in depth) because the stills would have looked even more splendid than they already do. Most certainly worth a buy however.”

We still agree to what we stated a year ago! Worth every penny!

theplankdvdThe Plank (1967) (ITV Studios Home Entertainment DVD)

July 2012 saw the passing of our old friend Eric Sykes a huge supporter of not only Bristol Silents but a big supporter of the Slapstick Festival. Classed by many as ‘one of the true great British comedy legends’ we will all miss him massively. And we thought that we would suggest one of his classic films within our list. We screened The Plank whenever we hosted an event with Eric (whether at Watershed or at the Barbican, London). The film was one of our favourites (as well as Eric’s) and is a fantastic reminder about how great Eric was as a silent comedy comedian.

Worth noting that there are two versions of the Plank which stars Eric; one version has Tommy Cooper as co-star while the other (a Television remake) co-stared Arthur Lowe; and while the Arthur Lowe version is very good, we would highly recommend the original 1967 Cooper version.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) (Masters of Cinema DVD & Blu-Ray)

Much has been said about this release over the past few weeks and months since it’s release (and we can see why); 1: La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc is one of the most incredible films from the silent era (there was a major response from this year’s Giornate) and 2: Masters of Cinema have done it again by releasing a perfect DVD / Blu-Ray release.

We could go on about this for hours (or pages) but if you haven’t got this release set, you need to. Another triumph by Dryer; and another triumph by Masters of Cinema!

Fairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathe (BFI DVD)

We have spoken a lot about this release over the past month (whether on our Facebook pages or on Twitter or even on thsi website) and many of us have been thrilled about how great a release it is. So, we couldn’t go without mentioning it one final time this year.

You can read about more about this release and our thoughts on our earlier page.

The Soviet Influence: Volume Two: Battleship Potemkin (1925) & Drifters (1929) (BFI DVD & Blu-Ray)

Another thrill for us this year was to see the release of John Grierson’s ground-breaking 1929 documentary Drifters on BFI DVD & Blu-Ray and while the score for the film might not be to everyone’s tastes (we know who you are) seeing the film on a wonderful brand new print on DVD and Blu-Ray is worth the money alone. Battleship Potemkin is of course on the set as well, but it’s always great when we can praise a superb British film.

Worth noting that the extras which come with the set include Harry Watt’s North Sea (1938), Len Lye’s Trade Tattoo (1937) and John Grierson’s Granton Trawler (1934)


Sight & Sound Magazine Subscription

And finally, since the major revamp of the BFI’s Sight & Sound Magazine back in August 2012 we were all thrilled to see the amount of which silent film was getting far more coverage than before, although we are not trying to say that the magazine was never a supporter of silent film, we were just thrilled there is far more silent film related articles than ever before.

Since August, we have seen regular articles written by the likes of the BFI’s Bryony Dixon and Silent London’s Pamela Hutchinson and its fascinating what is happening in the world of silent film and the different opinions which come across.

On top of all this, the access to the Sight & Sound and Monthly Film Bulletin Digital Archive is another reason to get a subscription (you are only offered the chance to access the new digital archive with a Sight & Sound Subscription alone). And trailing through the back catalogue of both Sight & Sound and the Film Bulletin has been incredible. So with the subscription and access to the back catalogue, what more do you want. A fantastic present for the entire year!

Well, that’s it, another list over for another year! However, we might follow up with a few extras on our Facebook page… so watch out for those. We are planning one final post for 2012! Until then however we all hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We’ll leave you with the same old still which we post every Christmas here at Bristol Silents, don’t ask us why, we just like it.


  1. #1 by on February 4, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    “Bristol Silents Top Ten Christmas Gifts for 2012 Bristol Silents” ended up being a very good article.
    In case it owned even more images this could be quite possibly much better.
    All the best ,Kattie

  2. #2 by on February 4, 2013 - 10:11 pm

    “Bristol Silents Top Ten Christmas Gifts for 2012 Bristol Silents” was indeed a remarkable
    posting, can not help but wait to go through much more of your postings.

    Time to spend a bit of time on the net haha. Thanks for your effort ,Klaus

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