Friday, March 2, 2012


Directed by Chris Heck

Adnan Novo - Johann
Greg Bronson - Mephistopheles

     Johann must play a important game for his soul.

      I don't usually review silent films on here. It's not that I don't like them, it's not that at all. It's just that I haven't gotten around to watching any until now. Some of the most influential films were from the silent era. You have the films by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplan which made a impact on comedians and helped them with their performances. Then you have silent horror classics such as The Golem, Haxan, and The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. If you don't believe me go and check out some of the music videos (for the younger readers, music videos that Rob Zombie has directed, especially Living Dead Girl.)

     Greg Bronson, who plays Mephistopheles in this short, brings back a look that I haven't seen in years. Something sinister is in his eyes in his role as 'Ol Scratch himself. Yet that is what the role required. Not a crazy look as what most actors would play it with, but a cold calculating stare. Johann, who is played by Adnan Novo, is a sickly man on his death bed dieing from a unknown ailment. Johann is giving a chance to save his soul by playing a game of chess with the devil who has enough interest to come and claim Johann's soul in person. Novo for the most part does a decent job of playing cocky in the presence of  Mephistopheles as that's what his character he plays calls for. The interesting thing about silent films is that the actors body language has to tell the story more than anything else. With that comes a bit of over-acting which is very apparent here, but it works instead of hindering the short.

     Director Chris Heck does a pretty good job of bringing a style of film making  that isn't really used much more (The Devil's Pawn predates The Artist by a year) but for some reason I think will be seen more in the future. One of the shots I loved in this film is the use of shadows from Mephistopheles' hands against the wall. There is just a animalistic quality to it as it helps to show that Greg Bronson's character is far from human. The story is very simplistic and the way it plays out is as well, but in this it works as it was set up to be that way. The heavy use of shadows in the short helps lend it a atmosphere of dread and wanting while the use of what little light there is just amplifies this. While there isn't much in the way of substance in the short, it does get it's point across quickly and without any filler. The Devil's Pawn is a quick watch that shows it knows where the roots of film comes from and pays tribute to that.

     Even though it's not a bodily death, the death of hope hits harder for Johann.

     Checkmate! This game is lost, and with it your soul. You've had many chances but your greed has been your downfall.

     Greg Bronson has been in over 40 shorts and films in his career.

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