Ruminations on Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL (1925) & Murnau’s FAUST (1926)

Ruminations on Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL (1925) & Murnau’s FAUST (1926)

I find both of these films very odd, and both very daring and challenging for the times, but neither particularly satisfying.

Of the two Murnau’s FAUST is by far the better known, well… as well known as silent films get, with numerous re-masterings and expensive restorations done, and new scores routinely crafted for it, and volumes of critical analysis written, and the darling of film courses everywhere.

And while I’m a huge fan of F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE (Sunrise along with Erich Von Stroheim’s GREED, and a handful of others, is considered, rightly I believe, one of the greatest silent films ever made); I’m not as enamored of his FAUST. The technical wizardry for the day was ground breaking, but FAUST, for me suffers a couple of flaws we’ll get into in a moment.

Because flaws aside FAUST has maintained a level of attention, accolades, and restoration to be envied, while Oscar Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL, has pretty much become an invisible film. No restorations, no re-masterings, and fairly unseen and unknown.

Which is a shame because the two films make an interesting diptych on religion and carnality and the suffering of women; the almost crucifixion of women at the hands of a dismissive, patriarchal society. And they both offer intriguing performances by their respective female leads.

BODY AND SOUL, is one of the few surviving silent ‘RACE’ pictures (Pictures created by and for Black audiences and the thriving Black movie theater circuit that comprised 600 black owned theaters [as opposed to the half dozen in existence today], popular in the years from 1915 to 1928) and as such, is an intriguing and historically important part of both cinema and highlighting the cultural fabric and concerns of the day.


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Book Review: Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale

“Nothing will teach you more about the human heart, than Murnau’s SUNRISE. Not the living of it, and not the leaving of it. If that simple, supple, nuanced tale does not move you. Indelibly move you, then you are something I prefer not to know. For its day there was no bigger, more sumptuous, more lavish spectacle. And technically, SUNRISE, with its use of various compositing effects, and camera effects, was both innovator and game-changer.”
– Heroic Times on MURNAU

Sunrise [Blu-ray]

Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale- Centipede Press is the producer of high end tomes containing work by some of the standout writers of the fantastic, among them H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King to name a few. True to the title, EAPMOTWT concentrates on collecting all the work of foremost writer of Dark Fiction, Edgar Allen Poe. At 900 pages, the book also contains many illustrations done for Poe stories.

Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale

Aware of the giant over-sized art retrospectives done on HP Lovecraft and Stephen King respectively, and led by the dimensions listed on the on-line purchase page, 14″ by 10″, I bought this item. However, once received, actual dimensions are 7″ by 10″, which is comparable to regular book size.

The good? is it is 900 pages, contains all the Edgar Allen Poe stories, sports large type, illustrations and spot illustrations sporadically through the book. Comes in a slipcase, with quality cover, paper and binding.

The bad? As stated it is not oversized, it is regular sized. The artwork is sporadic at best, so not an art book in the sense of Centipede Press’ phenomenal and large enough to bludgeon the odd badger, KNOWING DARKNESS: THE ART OF STEPHEN KING. It’s more a book with various spot illustrations tossed in, all pretty turn of the century and stock. The best of the illustrations are the handful done by Virgil Finlay. And while these sporadic illustrations are pecfectly fine if this book was priced say at $40, this book retails for nearly $300!!! Even getting this deeply discounted online, you’re still looking at $180 to $200!?! A lot of money for what really amounts to a hardcover book with some spot illustrations. This is not an art book. You can get any number of books containing all Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, for a fraction of the cost of this tome. I recommend this one:

The Complete Edgar Allan Poe Tales

My recommendation… pass.

You can decide for yourself… here.

Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale