Search - A Cottage on Dartmoor / Silent Britain on DVD

A Cottage on Dartmoor / Silent Britain
A Cottage on Dartmoor / Silent Britain
Director: Anthony Asquith
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2007     1hr 27min

A man commits a violent crime of passion when he becomes jealous over a woman's attention to other men.


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Movie Details

Director: Anthony Asquith
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Silent Films, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 10/02/2007
Original Release Date: 04/11/1930
Theatrical Release Date: 04/11/1930
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 27min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Wonderful Silent Film, Rather Silly Documentary
Gwen Kramer | Sunny and not-so-sunny California | 10/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have been waiting for A Cottage on Dartmoor to be released for quite some time. It has the reputation of being one of the last great silent films to be made in Britian or anywhere.

The movie opens with a prisoner escaping Dartmoor prison and running through the moors. His destination is a cottage where a woman tends to her child. When she looks up and sees the escaped prisoner, she shouts his name and introduces the flashback that will make up most of the film.

The prisoner was once a barber named Joe who was obsessively in love with a pretty manicurist named Sally. She shrinks from his advances and falls for a unsophisticated but kindly farmer. As their romance deepens, so does Joe's instability.

As a film, A Cottage on Dartmoor deserves its reputation. Director Anthony Asquith (who would go on to make sophisticated drawing room comedies) uses rapid cross-cutting to create suspense. He also inserts unrelated footage to symbolize the character's stae of mind. Sometimes it works well but other times (such as the cord snapping during the famous shaving scene) it all just seems to be too much.

Swedish leading man Uno Henning is particularly good as the obsessed Joe. Like his contemporary, Lars Hanson, Henning excells at intensity. His very stylized acting contrasts well with the down to earth flirtateousness of Norah Baring as Sally and Hans Schlettow as her country lover. HE seems akward and out of place even before the more disturbing aspects of his character are revealed.

At 87 minutes, the movie moves along at a brisk pace, although the scene in the movie theater did get rather tedious. I highly recommend the film for silent movie buffs and anyone who enjoys a good suspense film.

Included on the same DVD is the documentary Silent Britian. British silent films have gotten a raw deal over the years. There were many amateurish productions to be sure but there were also some true gems which are now ignored. However, with its jingoistic tone and lack of substance, this documentary will do little to enlighten the public.

Relying on gossip and speculation, the filmmakers go about trying to prove the British films were hobbled by a massive conspiracy hatched between Europe and the US. This is ridiculous since Germany experienced a boycott of their films during and after WWI yet their industry flourished. It all sounds like a bad case of sour grapes.

The tone of the documentary might have been forgiven if there had been a lot of good clips of British productions. Unfortunately, half the time we are not shown the clips, we are shown the host watching the clips himself!

More disturbing is the snickering tone the documentary takes toward the private lives of such stars as Ivor Novello and Mabel Poulton. It simply comes off as mean-spirited since the people involved are no longer alive to defend themselves.

When the documentary gets to the Hithcock era, I thought someone had substituted a reel of Forgotten Silver by mistake! We are informed that Hitchcock shot in the German style not because he studied film in Germany but because of the influence of an obscure writer who was never heard from again! That's all very well but it doesn't explain why Hitch shouted "Achtung!" instead of "action".

British silent film has been negelected and deserves some love and attention from modern film buffs. However, this documentary makes its point so petulantly and with such unnecessary vitriol that it makes it hard for a casual viewer to enjoy it and a film buff will just get annoyed.

Verdict: Amazing movie, worth the wait. They could have left the documentary in the vault and given us a nice transfer of The Lodger instead."
An example of the perfect silent film
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 10/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an important - if not also well overdue - DVD release of a near-forgotten and neglected gem of silent cinema which showcases all the highly artistic features cinema had reached in the late 1920s, just before the introduction of sound. Ranking as one of Britain's best silent films along with "Piccadilly" and "Hindle Wakes", "A Cottage on Dartmoor" however, stands out as artistically far superior, and would surely rate highly alongside the best of films worldwide. The style and techniques used in "A Cottage on Dartmoor" are similar to the German Expressionism and Soviet Avant Garde films of the same time period, with emphasis on using strong light and shadow contrasts, unusual camera angles, and many visual images to convey emotions and moods. A wonderful example of this is the few short scenes to express a man losing control of his jealous rage: first we see a cord stretched to breaking point, then canons exploding and a flash of bright red. While this technique could also be used in sound pictures, it is hardly ever done, and somehow these striking visual images are much more poignant in a silent film.

These camera and editing techniques are used extremely well in this story which is essentially quite simple, but becomes deep, moving and complex due to the intense focus on a few people's emotions. The very first opening scenes are already very gripping and suspenseful, and a perfectly smooth and clever flashback depicts the love triangle which led to the sad ending. Obsessed with a co-worker in a fancy hair and beauty salon, a man is driven to a desperate act when the woman he loves becomes involved with a new male client. Some of the images and skilful photography conveying the man's intense feelings and subsequent actions are so well done that they persist in your memory like a permanent impression. Flawless picture quality and an innovative, perfectly suited and executed piano accompaniment add to the extremely high artistic quality of this film and make it a special experience to watch many times over.

It seems very suitable that the second feature on this DVD, the 90-minute BFI documentary "Silent Britain" sheds light on other outstanding British silent films which also deserve recognition. It is an important historic documentation which complements the established and well-known pioneering works of people like Edison, Melies and the Lumiere brothers, showing that Britain also contributed significantly to the development of cinema with works by people such as R.W. Paul and Cecil Hepworth. Although generally not well known, their contribution has already been recognized and acknowledged in another excellent KINO VIDEO presentation, namely the 5-DVD set, "The Movies Begin". And now "Silent Britain" summarizes these highlights from Britain's silent era in a high standard documentary with many clips and film footage, and good, succinct narration, making it a pleasure to watch while being educated. Needless to say, for any serious film enthusiast this DVD with feature film and documentary should not be missed!
Transfer & Disc Problem
jrc | Jonesboro, AR USA | 10/06/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This KINO release has some serious problems. First, there is an authoring error in which the menu screen breaks up and pixellates when you return to it from the feature or documentary. Second, the feature A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR(1929) displays the "herky-jerky" movement seen with PAL to NTSC transfer errors (as in Milestone's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-1925 DVD travesty). The documentary, SILENT BRITAIN, looks fine and does not exhibit the transfer error.

I contacted Kino, but have received no response. Beware this release....maybe they'll fix it in the interim. Milestone never offered to fix their PHANTOM OF THE OPERA beware.

Too bad, because the film is great. The documentary is a treasure. This is the first time that Kino has screwed up a release (as far as I know).