Silent Witnesses (1914)
AKA Немые свидетели, Nemye Svideteli
This tear-jerker from Evgeni Bauer wasn’t quite as innovative as the other two of his movies that I reviewed previously, but some of his genius for storytelling does come through. The story again looks at gender and class difference through the lens of a romance. A young girl becomes a maid at the household her grandfather works for as a porter. The matriarch goes off to Crimea for her health, leaving her bachelor son in charge. When he is spurned by his aristocratic love interest, he turns to the maid for comfort, getting her drunk in order to take advantage of her. Then the fiancée snaps her fingers, and he goes back to treating the maid like dirt, all the while she witnesses all her infidelities in his house. She remains silent and tormented, saying nothing as they go off to get married. The end. I’m not sure why Bauer opted for a more traditionally “stagey” approach for this film, but it didn’t really work for me, although the stages are often at slight angles. We also see split screen used to demonstrate phone conversations, some overhead shots, and some occasional pans, but much of the filming is static and conventional. The male lead swings from pathetic to despicable and back to pathetic again, which doesn’t help anything, either.
Director: Evgeni Bauer
Run Time: 1hr 4 Min.
You can watch it for free: here.