Tuvalu (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuvalu is a silent film in tinted black and white. It maintains the illusion of being an authentic silent film by using no sets which would betray a knowledge of anything after 1920.

It's a German movie, but I suppose that doesn't really matter in a silent film.


Chulpan Khamatova is naked throughout much of the movie, including frontals

We watch as a public spa/pool/gym struggles with its rapidly disintegrating edifice. The fact that The public building inspector is about to condemn an ancient spa. An evil ship captain wants to swipe a piece of the steam heater for his boat's engine. One man wants to redevelop it. A frenetic Chaplinesque little man is trying to save the spa, but he's in love with a woman who works for the evil boat dude.

People make a lot of silly faces and raise their eyebrows a lot. men twirl their moustaches. The end.

I would have admired this if it were ten minutes long, as a dutiful, accurate homage to an era which required artistic moving photographs to tell the story. As a ninety minute film ... well, let me say this. My DVD player works up to 128x speed. I set it for 64x, and the film provided a very entertaining 90 seconds, and I didn't miss anything at all. Frankly, they made this just to show it could be done.

OK, it can. let's move on. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. filmcritic.com 3/5, Apollo 80/100

  • The film won many awards at small film festivals.


The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: mini-arthouse. Played 8 screens at max. For most of its run it was on 1 or two screens. Grossed $393,000 from a film buff audience.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C, I guess. How do you grade a B&W silent film made in 1999 which has no serious point? It is aimed at a very, very small target audience, less than 1% of filmgoers. It looks impressive, but the storyline is a mere bagatelle. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-intelligencer summed it up perfectly, "The film is relentlessly arty and much too stylistically bizarre for mainstream taste ... But it has its own peculiar charm."

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