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Silent Movie Week

August 02, 2023 – August 08, 2023

The Museum of Modern Art

As a commercial medium, silent film lasted for only about 30 years, but those 30 years represented a creative explosion with few parallels in the art world. Evolving from one-shot experiments into immensely complex formal systems in record time, movies captured the energy of an emerging industrial society in all of its beauty and horror. Without the benefit of spoken words, silent films developed a system of expression based on light and movement that led down new creative paths. And by drawing on the spectator’s imagination to complete their partial worlds, by filling in vocal nuance and ambient sounds, they solicit our attention and involvement in a unique way: to watch a silent film is to participate in its creation.

It’s estimated that only 20 percent of the films made between 1895 and 1930 survive, and yet the work of preserving and restoring the remaining films continues. MoMA is one of several archives around the world with significant silent film holdings, and this program is an attempt to catch up with some of the work being done by our colleagues and ourselves, all presented here in East Coast—and in some cases United States—premieres.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, and Karen and Gary Winnick.


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Three Weeks. 1924. USA. Directed by Alan Crosland. The Museum of Modern Art Film Stills

Stella Dallas. 1925. USA. Directed by Henry King. The Museum of Modern Art Stills Archive

The Adventurer. 1917. USA. Directed by Charles Chaplin. The Museum of Modern Art Stills Archive

La Dixième Symphonie (The Tenth Symphony). 1918. France. Directed and written by Abel Gance. Courtesy La Cinemathèque Française

Padlocked. 1926. USA. Directed by Allan Dwan. Courtesy of The San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The Street of Forgotten Men. 1925. USA. Directed by Herbert Brenon. Courtesy of The San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The Lady. 1925. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage. Courtesy of The Library of Congress

What Happened to Jones. 1926. USA. Directed by William A. Seiter. Courtesy of Universal Pictures