Classic silent war film restored

 Wings – the only completely silent film to win Best Picture at the Oscars – has been restored by Paramount Pictures to celebrate their centenary. They are presenting it at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences headquarters with live organ accompaniment, before the Blu-ray release on Tuesday.

The film, a First World War aerial dogfight epic made in 1927, was directed by William Wellman, a veteran First World War fighter pilot. At the time it gave audiences a view of the war they had never before seen.

Dogfights were created by affixing cameras to flimsy bi-planes, while a crew of flyers performed death defying stunts that still shock audiences today.

Academy archivist Randy Haberkamp said about the film: “The thing about Wings that’s so exciting is that it was the Avatar and the Star Wars of its day. It was a state-of-the-art action film.”

As one of the top grossing films of its decade, it was budgeted at a record setting $2 million, but cost much more than that as Wellman wouldn’t allow shooting until the skies were cloudy to offset the planes against the background.

It stars Richard Arlen as David Armstrong, a small town kid trying to win over the affection of city girl Silvia, who is smitten by his rival Jack Powell. When they both end up volunteering for the war, they end up becoming fast friends.

As we prepare for the Oscar nominees announcement tomorrow, one thing is clear – Hollywood has a resurrected interest in early cinema.

The film most critics expect to take home the Oscar for Best Picture this year is The Artist, the first major silent film made in 80 years. If it wins, it will be the second silent film ever to win the prestigious award.

Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s 3-D family film, explores the life of early French film pioneer Georges Melies; while Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris looks at a modern day screenwriter going back in time to the 1920s.

Source: Edmonton Journal


Photo ©Paramount Home Entertainment, Reuters