Mike Figgis' story about immigrants arriving in New York
The director of Leaving Las Vegas once told Mark Kermode about a film that was shown to immigrants to New York who had just arrived at Liberty Island in the early 20th Century. The film depicted the norms and customs of life in America at the time. Because the immigrants were from a wide range of countries, and mostly unable to speak English, the film had no subtitles - but conveyed enough as a series of still images put together to create the illusion of movement that all could understand it; this was a truly universal piece of cinema. Both Figgis and Mark agree that something was lost the moment sound was mastered and films could no longer have this universality, and Mark will mention this anecdote whenever silent cinema is discussed.