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Monday, September 12, 2016

'Captive' BD 1915 Silent DeMille Epic

The Olive Films September 13, 2016 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the previously lost Cecil B. DeMille 1915 silent romantic drama "The Captive" perfectly illustrates both the diversity of the Olive catalog and the dedication of Olive to film preservation. In those regards, "Captive" is an excellent follow-up to the (Unreal TV reviewed) January 2016 Olive releases of the previously censored John Huston documentary on WWII PTSD "Let There Be Light."

The incredibly restored print (complete with a new musical score) of the 101 year-old "Captive" provides a wonderfully clear chance to view a truly old school movie. The perfect music, the exaggerated (but not comical) expressions and gestures, and simple but effective sets are special rare treats.

"Captive" is set in 193 during a war between Turkey and the Balkans and opens with a scene of the lavish lifestyle of dashing Turkish nobleman Mahmud Hassan. The action then shifts to the impoverished existence of farmer Sonia, her older brother Marko, and her young brother Milo on their homestead in a village near Montenegro. The demands of war soon require that both Marko and Mahmud go off to battle.

A series of circumstances leads to a comically inept (but still dashing) Mahmud being a slave on the farm of Sonia. Fear and distrust soon leads to friendship, which leads to love.

The inherent conflicts related to war, nationality, and class all strain the relationship of our 20th century Romeo and Juliet. One of the most compelling scenes has Mahmud fighting for the life of the highly traumatized pet sheep of Milo.

These conflicts also provide DeMille context for epic battles that are as exciting as anything that Zack Snyder creates for his neverending superhero films. The cool thing is that DeMille elicits more feeling with a handful of extras and a few guns than Snyder achieves with every CGI toy known to manchild. It is difficult to imagine ANYONE in 2116 getting excited on discovering a print of "Suicide Squad."

On a deeper level, DeMille serves up good commentary on war, class, and the chipping away at the power of the aristocracy at the beginning of the 20th century. No one could ask for more from a film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Captive" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,