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Old 03-01-2003, 11:55 AM   #1
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Duncan Smoking (1891)

This wonderful work is the type of cinematic masterpiece that Ingmar Bergman could only aspire to but never achieve. The dark composition and masterful use of light and shadow are evocative of the best film noir. The understated minimalism is utterly profound. In a particularly brilliant stroke, the director has chosen to forgo a soundtrack as well as any sound effects in favor of a silent sound mix. This ingenious choice drives home the despairing, nihilistic worldview of this piece. Dickson & Heise have created the type of bold, daring work that only nineteenth century artistic visionaries could produce. They have launched the "Duncan" trilogy in strong fashion, and I greatly anticipate the next two installments in the series.

Duncan and Another, Blacksmith Shop (1891)

While "Duncan Smoking" took the Everyman character of Duncan on a pan-universal quest to find meaning and fulfillment in an empty universe, "Blacksmith Shop" raises the stakes by introducing us to the mysterious character of "Another". This transmogrifies the dramatic arc from a desperate soliloquy to an epic dualistic struggle. The directors have once again chosen to film on black and white stock with a silent sound mix; daring choices that are wholly appropriate for this type of radical and possibly even controversial material. I cannot even begin to imagine what the concluding chapter in this trilogy will bring.

Duncan or Devonald with Muslin Cloud (1891)

[It] is absolutely correct that this horrible trash sold out the "Duncan" series in truest commercial Hollywood fashion. For starters, the title is just awful -- I much prefer the working titles that Edison Manufacturing Company, producers of the series, were using: "The Muslin Menace" and "Attack of the Clouds". The use of black and white film and the decision to omit sound were techniques that were daring and innovative in the first two movies, but here are just trite and predictable. James C. Duncan does the best he can with this abysmal material, but newcomer Fred C. Devonald overacts in unbearably amateurish fashion. The departure from the proven "Duncan" formula is puzzling. I fail to understand why Dickson & Heise would draw the focus of the storyline away from Duncan. By replacing the certainty of the Duncan storyline with the ambiguity of Duncan OR Devonald, they make the material too clever by half. In keeping with IMDB's policies, I too will not reveal the so-called "surprise twist" but I will say that it was totally predictable, and I will add that the potential novelty of the Muslin Cloud becomes just another tired and contrived plot device. It remains to be seen if a better version of this piece will appear in the upcoming "Duncan: The Director's Cut" DVD.

Do realize that these three films are about 15 seconds long each, and were done by Thomas Edison's

Does it make you want to run out and get the DVD?


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Old 03-02-2003, 12:22 AM   #2
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Re: The First Film Trilogy and User Reviews...

Originally posted by melon
Do realize that these three films are about 15 seconds long each, and were done by Thomas Edison's

Does it make you want to run out and get the DVD?

Only if they come with director's commentary, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

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Old 03-02-2003, 11:25 AM   #3
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Old 03-03-2003, 03:30 AM   #4
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I'd love to see them actually. I like old films. I hate long films. 15 sec? A dream!
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Old 03-03-2003, 03:34 AM   #5
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understated minimalism...blech
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