A great example of German Expressionist Film
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 07/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The full title of this German 1923 silent classic is "Warning Shadows: A Nocturnal Hallucination" and what better subject for an experimental Expressionist film than a play with light and shadows which cause intense emotions and confusion in the characters involved! The 1920s saw some revolutions in cinema style and technique, and German Expressionism was at the forefront with its artistic and surreal style, using light and shadow extensively and even attempting to eliminate intertitles completely. "Warning Shadows" still stands as one of the success stories of this unique genre, but it might take a little getting used to for those not well acquainted with the style. For a start, the lack of intertitles might seem intimidating at first, but once you get used to the slow and deliberate movements and expressions of the characters, it's possible to follow the characters' thoughts, actions and motives without the usual explanatory intertitles. The highlight of "Warning Shadows" however is its extensive use of shadows which create illusion, and it was so well done that it's still fascinating and impressive to see over 80 years later. The plot is quite simple and obvious for the most part: a husband is jealous of the attention his attractive wife enjoys receiving from several admirers, and tensions reach a climax during a dinner party. A mysterious character - a magician and illusionist who performs a shadow play at the dinner party - causes a hallucination or vision which prophetically shows the tragic outcome of the wife's flirting and the husband's jealous rage; hence the `warning'. It may be difficult at first to discern where reality ends and the hallucination begins, but I found that after more than one viewing I could appreciate and enjoy this unusual film much more. I also found the musical score of mainly piano quite suitable to the mood and unreal ambience, and when the film ends at morning light in the story, it feels like an awakening from a strange vision or hallucination for the viewer as well, which no doubt is proof of the effectiveness and success of "Warning Shadows". It definitely belongs in any collection of German Expressionist film (or perhaps a collection of odd, unique, rare films) and for anyone keen to adventure beyond the normal realms of standard cinema.
And Now For Something Completely Different.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 07/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"That phrase so closely associated with Monty Python makes for an apt description of this legendary 1922 German silent film which has been unavailable in America for many years. Made the same year as F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU and featuring many of the same performers, WARNING SHADOWS is like a combination of it and THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. It also predates Murnau's THE LAST LAUGH as a silent film without intertitles by a few years. The plot which concerns a mysterious stranger showing various people their potential futures (an idea Gloria Swanson would later use in THE LOVE OF SUNYA) is of secondary importance to the astonishing visuals created by the incredible use of light and shadows as well as closeups (remember there are no title cards) to tell the story of a Count who suspects his wife of infidelity. This DVD version is taken from a composite print made of materials from France and America. It's rather beat up in places (and so 4 stars instead of 5) but is leagues ahead of an old public domain VHS issued by Video Yesteryear several years ago. The color tints though effective are a trifle overdone but not to the detriment of the film and it's a problem that can be easily corrected. Donald Sosin's background score complements the action but is a bit underpowered for my taste. If you are at all into German silent cinema then WARNING SHADOWS is a must have. Early horror film aficionados will also revel in its grotesque imagery. Thanks to Kino and all the restorers involved in bringing this unique, influential film back to life and making it available on home video for lovers of silent film like myself.."
Burritoman "USA" | Pennsylvania | 05/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why is this 1923 German film so obscure? I don't recall ever hearing of "Warning Shadows" until I ran across it here on amazon last week. It sounded sufficiently interesting, and although there is very little information on the movie anywhere, it was an impulse purchase. And a good one. This is one of the most fascinating and sexually-charged examples of early world cinema that I've come across. The plot isn't anything spectacular, but as an expressionist piece an intricate plot isn't necessary; there are no title cards, but they aren't necessary, either. The camerawork, the direction and the pacing are nothing short of great, and the acting (while still rooted in the overemote school for the most part) is perfect. "Warning Shadows" has a solid, direct appeal and is more "living" as art than, dare I say it, "Nosferatu". Really.
Highly recommended for all silent film buffs. This is quite a treasure."