- 1h 18min
A priest hears a murderer's confession but can't reveal the truth, even though his brother is being tried for the crime.A priest hears a murderer's confession but can't reveal the truth, even though his brother is being tried for the crime.A priest hears a murderer's confession but can't reveal the truth, even though his brother is being tried for the crime.
The Confession is rather similarly designed but is interesting in that it fully assumes that style and makes it the major focus of the film. It is in fact a mdodern-day "northern" or "Canadian" western - a genre much in the vogue in the early twenties, so we naturally have scenes of forest and river typically associated with the genre. But the core of the story is told in heavy shadow a a continual series of stylised close-ups of the central characters, the priest, the mother, the brother, the perjured murderer and where the mini-flashbacks also assume a particular importance in coming close to telling the story from different viewpoints and even from viewpoints that change in the course of the film (the murder as we originally see it, the story told in confessional, the brother's account, the perjured testimony in court). There is a very fine performance by Walthall (an underrated actor whose reputation suffered in a sense from his too-close association with the part of the "little Colonel" in Birth of Nation). Here he displays an impassivity that in some ways turns the idea of the "facial" on its head or at least converts it into something rather more interesting.
The use of close-up and flashback rather than seeming extraneous as they often are in other films of the time (here comes the close-up, here comes the flashback) or becoming virtually the sole purpose of the film as they are close to doing in The Italian are here actually used as the medium through which the story is told, specially adapted to the rather unusual context of the film itself (the basic facts of the story are all known from the very beginning) and the overall effect is not unimpressive. It is a shame that there is not a better print of the film in existence.
- Jan 10, 2018