Tannhauser (1913)

Article 4821 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-14-2015
Directed by Lucius Henderson
Featuring James Cruze, Marguerite Snow, Florene La Badie
Country: USA
What it is: Silent opera

A minstrel falls in love with a princess, but leaves when her betrothal to a previous suitor is announced. The suitor releases the princess from her vow when he discovers that she loves the minstrel, but the latter has been seduced and put under a spell by the pagan goddess Venus.

Ah, the course of true love ne’er did run smooth. Still, the pitfalls, setbacks and obstacles that beset the lovers in this one are so contrived that one can only shake one’s head. Granted, this one is from an opera, and it might have worked better if the characters could sing, but this being a silent movie, we’re left with the story. It’s a surprisingly slow story, at that; even at only forty minutes, it drags, and the sometimes dull and cluttered staging don’t help things out. As for the fantastic content, we have Venus to contend with as well as a plot element that requires a miracle to solve. You know a story is jerking you around when it coughs up a miracle to solve an impossible situation, and then pulls the rug out from under you by… well, I won’t give away the ending, but to quote Bugs Bunny, “Well, what did expect in an opera? A happy ending?”

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