Home1-2526-5051-100101-50151-200201-250251-300
-
SEVENTH HEAVEN
1927 - Frank Borzage
United States
46
Opening Shot

"For those who climb, ever immersed in the depths... from the sewers to the stars... the stairs of courage. In the Paris slums, under a street known as "the smelly hole"". Seventh Heaven begins with this title card as the film opens to a man cleaning the sewage water. While he is working his coworker is glancing up the sewer hole at a pair of woman standing on the street.

The Film

One of the great Frank Borzage's simplistic and most celebrated silent films, Seventh Heaven is one of the truly greatest love stories in film history. The film is an intimate experience that takes the viewer into the film through Borzage's masterful direction, which is captured through the pace, shot development and characterization. We are taken into the experiences and emotions of the characters through this development and through the way Borzage brings out the beauty in the small details of them. Of course the lead performances also aid in the intimacy of the film as Janet Gaynor (Diane) and Charles Farrell (Chico) take us into the mystical romance of the film. Gaynor's performance is especially unforgettable, as Seventh Heaven is the first of three films she starred in for Borzage. Here she gives one of the great performances of silent cinema. Through the innocence of her expressions and her eyes comes an immediate emotional connection to the audience, which can easily identify and even feel the strong sense of love, all with an effortlessness that transcends performance acting. There is this strong and close sense of beauty and feeling to the entire film. Reaching beyond the powers of war and poverty the love and spirit of Chico and Diane can not be broken because it is theirs. Seventh Heaven is among Borzage's greatest films and is a timeless masterpiece of silent cinema.

The Filmmaker

Though he began as an actor, Frank Borzage started working as a director on several silent westerns and dramas before joining Fox Studios in 1925. During the end of the silent era and into the transition of sound, Borzage was at the forefront of Hollywood directors. In 1929 Borzage won the first ever Academy Award for Best Director with his 1927 masterwork Seventh Heaven. The films star Janet Gaynor also won the Academy Award for her performances in Borzage's Seventh Heaven and Street Angel (1928), another masterful Borzage silent made after the success of Seventh Heaven. Borzage was widely celebrated for the naturalistic performances of his films which were quite a contrast to the style of many silent films of the time. One of his great gifts as a filmmaker is the way he takes us into the intimacy and details of his films and his magical love stories. He gives time to characters (usually social outcasts) and shot developments taking us into the characters and what they are feeling. The frame and compositions of the shots, as well as the lightning, set design, and editing keep us solely focused on the characters and the story. Borzage's transition into the sound era was successful as he won his second Best Director Academy Award in 1931 for Bad Girl, and his 1932 film A Farewell to Arms was nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture. By the mid-1940s Borzage's reputation among Hollywood greatest directors had unfortunately fallen and many of his previous mystical romanticism films were unjustly considered dated. In 1961 (one year before his death), Borzage did receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild. Pure, innocent and intimate Borzage's world and his characters stand alone, while his films remain incomparable.

Images
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Resources
clip (youtube)      
-