Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Shriek


Here's a sample of my newest favourite online discovery: Internet Archives. I've only had a look at the 'moving pictures' section so far, and I'm sure it'll take me years to get a good grasp of everything the archives contain as they are ever-expanding and are already such a large bank of information of all sorts.

My first use of them was to watch the quintessential classic The Sheik (1921) with Rudolph Valentino (which you can watch here). I think that anyone with a passion for cinema and its history should watch it, but should also read up on it a bit beforehand. I was initially put off by the somewhat stereotypical ethnic representations, but consoled myself by thinking that the movie was from another era, was made 90 years ago (can you believe it???). BUT, I soon realised that the contextualisation is essential: The Sheik was an unusually liberal movie whether it comes to the representation of sexual desire or its anti-racist subtexts. The British explorer is shown to be faulty in her colonialistic approach while the supposedly 'Arab' Sheik (no nationality indicated) is in fact of Western European descent and has been educated in Paris, this cancelling the original notion of 'middle-eastern stereotype'.

I can say I fully understand why it has been dubbed "The Shriek": Rudolph Valentino definitely has a magnetic presence that I can't get enough of.


  1. i have seen other films by melford but have only seen parts of the sheik...
    oooooh the hollywood and...(that's another discussion)...

  2. If Jane: Yes, that's another discussion in itself haha!


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