Silent Saturday: Michael

1924 silent drama

Rating: 15/20

Plot: An artist loses his touch as his longtime BFF and muse begins to drift away from him.

Another Carl Theodor Dreyer flick for Silent Saturday. The relationships at the center of the drama could have been more fully realized, and I'm not sure I ever felt sorry enough for the artist protagonist. Regardless, this has some strong moments and just enough touches of that Dreyer genius that would be more fully realized in The Passion of Joan of Arc to make it worthwhile. Never crossing into melodramatic or sentimental territories. this succeeds because of realistic characterization and a dose of tragic irony.

It's perhaps a little surprising that a film from 1924 dealt with homosexuality so overtly. It's not a subtext, and it's not just yet another example of me finding something that isn't really there. Claude Zoret, the artist, was clearly in love with the much-younger Michael. Sadly, a girl gets involved, and although it's never clear with Michael whether it's the pussy or the money that drives him. You see plenty--probably too many--silent comedies and dramas with love triangles, but until Michael, I hadn't seen one like this. It feels both personal and daring.

Benjamin Christensen plays the artist Zoret, and I really liked him. Turns out, I've seen him before as both Jesus and Satan in Haxan, a movie he also directed. Walter Slezak, that guy who brilliantly plays the German in Lifeboat, plays Michael. I'd have to think a little more before deciding if I agree with the movie being named after his character.

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