Enjoy the Greatest Silent Films Ever Made in Our Collection of 101 Free Silent Films Online

We all know the stages of cin­e­ma’s ear­ly devel­op­ment: first came the pic­tures, sec­ond came the motion, and third came the sound. But many of us, even rea­son­ably active film buffs, don’t real­ize how much the art form took its shape between steps two and three. Most of the visu­al lan­guage we instinc­tive­ly rec­og­nize as stan­dard in the movies today came togeth­er before their char­ac­ters ever spoke an audi­ble word. Hence the impor­tance of not just watch­ing the films of today, and not just catch­ing up with impor­tant works back to the the “gold­en age” of Hol­ly­wood, but going even far­ther back, to the ear­ly 1930s, even all the way to the 1910s — deep, in oth­er words, into the silent era. Out­side a uni­ver­si­ty film-stud­ies pro­gram, you could­n’t always do this eas­i­ly.  But now, to free you from the need to haunt spe­cial­ist video stores (if your city has them) and hope for silent screen­ings at the near­est reper­to­ry cin­e­ma (if your city has one), we give you our col­lec­tion of 101 free silent films online, part of our col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

We don’t mean obscure silent films, either. You may remem­ber our post on Sight & Sound mag­a­zine’s list of the ten great­est silents of all time, nine of which you can watch right now in our col­lec­tion. In chrono­log­i­cal order: D.W. Grif­fith’s Intol­er­ance (1916), Erich von Stro­heim’s Greed (1923), Buster Keaton’s Sher­lock Jr. (1924), Sergei Eisen­stein’s Bat­tle­ship Potemkin (1925), Buster Keaton’s The Gen­er­al (1926), Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis (1927), F.W. Mur­nau’s Sun­rise (1927), Luis Buñuel’s Un chien andalou (1928), Carl Theodor Drey­er’s The Pas­sion of Joan of Arc (1928), Dzi­ga Ver­tov’s Man with a Movie Cam­era (1929). You can also catch up, final­ly, on a vari­ety of oth­er impor­tant films besides, from four by French visu­al-spec­ta­cle pio­neer Georges Méliès (After the BallCin­derel­laThe Dev­il­ish Ten­antThe Impos­si­ble Voy­age) and six of Eng­lish sus­pense king Alfred Hitch­cock­’s ear­li­est works (Down­hill, Easy Virtue, The LodgerThe Plea­sure Gar­den). And that’s just scratch­ing the sur­face of our col­lec­tion of Free Silent Films.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Pow­er of Silent Movies, with The Artist Direc­tor Michel Haz­anavi­cius

Hol­ly­wood, Epic Doc­u­men­tary Chron­i­cles the Ear­ly His­to­ry of Cin­e­ma

Watch 10 of the Great­est Silent Films of All Time, All Free Online

Three Great Films Star­ring Char­lie Chap­lin, the True Icon of Silent Com­e­dy

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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