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Beyond the Rocks

Distributed by Milestone Films & Video, PO Box 128, Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0128; 800-603-1104
Produced by Nederlands Filmmuseum
Directed by Sam Wood
DVD, b&, 81 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Film Studies, Cultural Studies

Reviewed by Oksana Dykyj, Head, Visual Media Resources, Concordia University, Montreal

Date Entered: 9/11/2006

For many film historians the discovery of a lost film starring two of the most important stars of the silent era is cause for great celebration, and so the arrival of the 1922 Beyond the Rocks last year on the festival circuit prompted screenings at the prestigious Cannes and New York Film Festival among others. It has finally come out on DVD for the rest of us who could not see it on the screen. It was worth the wait as Milestone has once again put out an impressive package which not only includes Beyond the Rocks, but an additional rarely seen Rudolph Valentino film from 1919 called the Delicious Little Devil , in which he appears with Mae Murray. There is also an 85-minute audio recording of Gloria Swanson from 1955, just a handful of years after her triumph in Sunset Blvd. Naturally, there is an extensive stills gallery as Milestone worked with Swanson’s archival repository in obtaining many of the rare items presented on the DVD. Finally there is a choice of two scores by Henny Vrieten, one with many sound effects and the other with very subdued sound effects and music.

Valentino’s performance outshines Swanson’s in that his acting restraint and relative naturalness is in contrast to Swanson’s diva persona caught on film. The costumes are beautiful, the sets luxurious, and the restoration brilliantly done. The narrative falls somewhat flat, and this is obviously not the most important film of either Valentino or Swanson’s careers. However, the discovery of this film that has been considered lost for decades and whose creative team includes Sam Wood as director and Elinor Glyn as author, deserves to be seen and discussed as the cultural artifact that it is.

Recommended for any library whose collecting area includes areas of film studies and cultural studies.