Ever since movies have existed, various countries have been participating vigorously in the ever expanding industry, but just what countries have consistently managed to release better films than all the others? Here are the ten best countries for film production, wherein you are most likely to get your money’s worth:
The Golden Age of Russian Cinema rests within the age referred to as the Soviet Cinematic Era, and birthed such influential and classic masterpieces as The Battleship Potemkin and The Man with the Movie Camera. During the contraints and heat of wartime in the first half of the 20th century, films often were viewed from a political perspective, and were used as weapons.
However, after the wars, when things were relatively beginning to settle, Russian filmmakers were given more freedom and less censorship, and Russian cinema began to run on a timeline of eventual development. From films such as The Cranes are Flying which reexamined Russia’s shady past, to films like Tarkovsky’s Solaris, which allowed Russian cinema to branch out into new areas and the more recent The Return and Russian Ark which brought its creators critical acclaim and numerous awards, as well as re-establishing and reminding the world that the Russians, technically, had a film ability and vision that was a force to be reckoned with.
Australian cinema showed its prominence mainly with the barrage of actors it launched into mainstream appeal and Hollywood acceptance. And yet, considerably few of the country’s fine films have showcased these actor’s potential when compared with the dozens of Hollywood films we see them in. Peter Finch, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett are just some of the actors we’ve seen heaps of in Hollywood, but their real roots lie in the cinema of their home continent.
With the birth of the Australian New Wave in the early 70s, directors such as Peter Weir, Ken Hannam, George Miller and Peter Faiman, among others, had their films recognized globally for their significance and relevance to cinema. Arguably the most important Australian film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, has received global acclaim and the admiration of critics and viewers alike with its thoughtful provocation and shocking tactics. As time went on, Australian cinema only continued to develop with brilliant films such as Romper Stomper, Muriel’s Wedding, Babe, The Tracker, Rabbit-Proof Fence and Moulin Rouge, among many others, showcasing the talents of Australian actors and directors, as well as reminding us of the ability of its general art.
Mexican cinema, like Australian cinema, has brought a lot of its own citizens in the film industry into the mainstream spotlight. We may see actors like Gael Garcia Bernal and Selma Hayek in American films but it is important to remember their roots in Mexico. Mexican cinema dates back to the birth of cinema, but was only really fully acknowledged overseas with the arrival of directors such as Luis Buñuel in the 1930s, as Mexico’s Golden Age began to bloom. And it continued right throughout the century. Directors such as Buñuel, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Alcoriza and many others. In the 1990s, the birth of New Mexican Cinema occured, and dozens of directors and actors were propelled into the mainstream. Directors such as Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu began to get their films and talents noticed in Hollywood and elsewhere, and have gone on to have extremely successful careers.
Japanese cinema has been around for a long time, and has encountered numerous notable stages of cinematic evolution. It has also encountered periods of extreme success, winning the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar more times than any other Asian country.
There are numerous genres, from darker horror film, to sophisticated ‘pink’ pornography, to the thought-provoking works of directors such as Akira Kurosawa. Indeed, it seems Kurosawa has had the biggest impact on the country’s film industry, showing with dashing cinematography and incredible force the possibilities of the true filmmaking art. Other directors have also shown their cleverness and ingenuity with their own influential masterpieces, such as Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses, Itami’s Tampopo, Otomo’s Akira, and Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. Japanese cinema has thus proved that it can strike success in nearly all genres, racking up impressive awards for various achievements.
When one thinks of Swedish cinema, it seems, the name that always comes to mind is Ingmar Bergman. But, we must remember that Swedish cinema has had success and influence far before and beyond Bergman’s time. Swedish cinema was initially noticed in the early 20th century, when directors such as Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström began to make their mark. Introducing stars such as Greta Garbo into the spotlight, it didn’t take long for their talents to be noticed.
In the 50s and 60s, Swedish cinema grew with the rise of Bergman, whose films not only revolutionized the country’s style, but the style of all film worldwide. He also helped bring Sven Nykvist into the spotlight of appeal, as his distinct style helped carve the visual beauty of the Swedish aesthetic. At the same time as this was happening, Vilgot Sjöman was rousing controversy with films such as the sexually explicit I Am Curious (Yellow) that were as visually shocking for the time as they were undeniably influential. Modern Swedish directors such as Lasse Hallström and Lukas Moodyson directing films that would gain attention from around the world, particularly the ever-expanding grip of Hollywood who took on board Hallström’s talent and thus brought popular American films such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Cider House Rules into existence.
Italian cinema has been hugely influential. In 1916, the Manifesto of Futuristic Cinematography was signed by various filmmakers, and was one of many steps into the world of film we live and experience today. It was an essential part of the founding of the avant-garde film industry, influencing the German Expressionists who would use the genre to create some of the most artistically relevant features of their times. But as war brew in Europe, fascism was a stronghold for Mussolini and would influence the way films were created, leading to countless works of propaganda and change.
After the war came neorealism, which would hugely change the way cinema operated at that time, leading to more emotionally strong, affecting films such as those of Vittorio De Sica. After his time, different genres began to emerge and become prominent, most notably the spaghetti western, with much thanks due to Sergio Leone in that area. This article certainly could not go without mentioning other auteurs, whose works influenced not only Italy, but the world wide. Names such as Fellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Argento, Rossellini, and many others are prominent in the encyclopaedia of film history with their movies having an astonishing impact.
In terms of cinematic output, India tops all countries. Over a thousand films are produced every year, and the iconic Bollywood film production genre is still thriving. India has been making films vigorously for over a hundred years, and while not all of them have been masterpieces, a large number have had great affect and modern cinema owes a lot to India.
Possibly the most famous and best example of pure Indian cinema is Satyajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy. This was in the 50s, around the time India experienced its New Wave and began to become more widely received across the globe. Indeed, it is Ray’s films which are the staples of revolutionary Indian cinema, and he is widely considered one of the greatest cinematic minds for his contribution to the evolutionary time. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, however, Indian cinema began to modernise, with the formation of several subgenres, from light comedy to darker thrillers to the intriguing genre of “Mumbai noir,” reflecting on pressing issues for India’s underworld. From this, and the continous output of thousands of films annually, we can tell just how important Indian cinema has been, and how it will continue to have an effect.
Germany has had an inarguably huge affect on cinema ever since the birth of the medium. The first internationally successful film is probably Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which was conveniently followed up with F.W. Murnau’s influential horror Nosferatu. This was during the age of German Expressionism, but that genre faded into obscurity as the Weimar Republic was replaced by Nazi Germany. This was an age where films of propaganda reigned, most famously Leni Riefenstahl’s The Triumph of the Will. During the Nazi period, many German filmmakers fled to America where they had full and prosperous careers. Cinema began a steady decline in Germany after the war, until the birth of New German Cinema, which officially occured with the signing of the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962. Many influential German directors, such as Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders, subscribed to this manifesto and helped bring German Cinema into a new age. Today German cinema is alive, well and thriving, with continuous success in the many films it produces.
American cinema is arguably the most globally recognized of all cinema. Since D.W. Griffith revolutionised the medium in the 1910s, the American film industry has been consistent and successful. He made hundreds of films and, despite the controversy he caused, paved the way for thousands of filmmakers ahead of him. When sound pioneered in 1925 with The Jazz Singer, America experienced a steady boost and much recognition. During the 1930s, American film was prominently focused on the romantic comedy genre, although as time went on film developed somewhat of a depth as new techniques were invented and ideas flourished.
American cinema was changed forever in 1941 when Orson Welles created Citizen Kane, undeniably one of the most influential movies of all time. With him came a wave of Hollywood directors who would have a startling effect on the booming business of Hollywood. Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder were arguably the two most important of their time (the 50s), and they led the path for filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and countless others. With the rise of home video, movie accessibility became stronger, and the classic cult experience of viewing films at home would grow to influence modern directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson. Modern cinema introduced independent films, or ‘indie’ movies, allowing directors such as the aforementioned two to get their creative ideas more easily produced and surprisingly noticed. Today, American films are still widely recognized and seen worldwide and have a much better distribution and average sales number than cinema of other nations.
Cinema was literally born in France, with the Lumiere brothers pioneering the first successful cinematographe, and giving life to cinema and cinematography as we know it. And it certainly doesn’t stop there. Directors such as the Lumieres and George Mèliés created the first real films, and when they retired, the Gaumont Film Company continued their empire, with huge success. However, after the First World War there was a slight decline, but film in France managed to pick itself up and dust itself off afterwards, with directors such as Jean Renoir rising to success in the 30s.
But, French film’s incredible boost wasn’t to be until the French New Wave, believed by many to be the birthplace of Modern French cinema, and stapled by directors such as Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Louis Malle. As French film rose, so did its success and the number of directors and actors participating in its vigorous uprise. However, as New Wave rose, it began to slump in the 70s, and we were reminded just how lucky we were for the New Wave period of the 60s, and how influential it has become. Since this time, modern French directors such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Luc Besson, Michael Haneke, and various others. Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy had a huge impact in the 90s, dealing with themes of modern French society reminiscent of Godard and Truffaut, whilst remaining distinctly grounded. Jeunet’s Amelie, released in 2001, quickly became the highest grossing French film in the United States, of all time, and reminded us of the possibilities, uniqueness, and style of the cinema of France. Thus, France is the best country in the world to create a film. You have all the style, technique and originality, and French directors managed to consistently create amazing films at a rate which makes Hollywood look comparitively small. With the Cannes film festival every year, people flock to France to see a showcase of truly great film, in what may be one of the world capitals of consistently great film. Though many of the true auteurs of French cinema and worldwide cinema may have passed on by now, we have the legion of ideals and lessons that they have taught us, the themes, originality and style they have invented, and of course the films themselves which they have kindly left behind for us to revisit time and time again. Cinema was born in France, and if it should die (God forbid!), it would be only fitting for the last great films to be made in France.
That’s my list! Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you’d like to say on the matter? Please, leave a comment below, and thank you for reading.
They’re two of the most respected films of French cinema; worlds apart in timeline, but eerily similar in theme. It’s difficult to compare them, since in their own respectful rights, they are different and separate films, but there’s nothing like turning up the heat in the kitchen and finding out which one delivers better.
The 400 Blows (1959) dir: Francois Truffaut
One of the key milestones in the French New Wave was director Francois Truffaut’s astonishing debut Les Quatre Cents Coups, praised by critics and directors alike (including a glowingly positive Akira Kurosawa). This tale of rebellion in post-war France as a young boy struggles to deal with an insignificant, hard existence. He lashes out against society not in the violent ways some might expect, but simply by retreating from a positive attitude and becoming more indifferent toward morality and society. Filled with wonderful cinematography and spot-on direction, there’s little to complain about here and it’s likely The 400 Blows will move you emotionally, even if only in the smallest of ways.
Au Revoir les Enfants (1987) dir: Louis Malle
What I like about this war movie by Louis Malle is that it chooses not to go straight for the jugular, but to steady its pace and take a realistic, simplistic look at life in French wartime. We understand that the newcomer to a boarding school for boys is different from the others, and realize soon enough that he is a Jew being hidden. But there’s no screaming Hitler, no gasping for breath in concentration camps, in fact there are no massacres whatsoever shown on screen. But Malle implies a fair bit; human emotion, the struggle for acceptance, regret, and heartache, so that when the film’s final frame shows and there is a cut to black, we don’t need to see what will happen; we know.
But these short reviews won’t help us to distinguish which of the films are better. Let’s look closer. Let’s look at character, because the human personality is the key witness to the events of these films. In The 400 Blows, the boy Antoine Doinel is cold and retreated. He is bored and annoyed with his family of simplistic values, yet he still manages to enjoy the time he spends with them. The sadness in it is that he slowly grows apart from them; realizes how different they are and begins to assure himself they will never understand him. The villains of Truffaut’s film seem to be the parents, and the director allows us to see Doinel’s eventual dislike of them. In Malle’s movie, there seems to be no explicitly stated villain; sure we all know it’s dem Nahtzee’s, but for a long time, Malle lets the films’ character tale stay on the two boys, acquaintances before friends, until it is finally cruelly snatched away. This is a gutwrenching eventuality, and it hurts. But we can see from quite early on in The 400 Blows that Doinel is a different boy; a difficult boy, and his rejection of society’s mores is not a gutwrenching eventuality, but a predestined fate that seems to have been born into him. This is nowhere near as affecting to the viewer as the happy-go-lucky adventures and quick ending of Au Revoir les Enfants.
As far as entertainment value goes, I would say that The 400 Blows is a better movie to watch because, despite the fact that the hurt lasts the whole movie and not just a few scenes, we can relate much easily to the character. In childhood, I’m sure we’ve all felt those inevitable moments of careless rebellion and social rejection; we’ve all been there. I think that inside of us is a little bit of Doinel, and vice versa. This makes his tale more compelling, and the final breathtaking freezeframe of him on the beach that little extra heartbreaking.
It’s impossible to say which movie is better, but hopefully this will help you make up your mind:
If you’re looking for a deep, compelling character study, choose The 400 Blows.
If you’re looking for a fact-based drama about wartime persecution, choose Au Revoir les Enfants.
Okay, so maybe that didn’t help. So go watch them both. You tell me which one was better by leaving a comment below. Go on. Do it. The opinions of all you readers are probably much better than my stupid words.
Each decade has produced some fantastic films, and picking the one best film from each of those ten years is a difficult choice. However, I’m going to voice my opinion, and make an attempt.
The 1910s: Intolerance (1916)
After the disaster that was Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith repented for its racist overtones with this blockbuster hit, one of the first ‘epics’ of all time, and towering overtop any other effort of the era.
1920s: Un Chien Andalou (1929)
A 16-minute masterpiece of surreal, deep, imaginative imagery, headlined with a nonsensical title and opened with a striking image of a woman’s eye cut open by a razor, Luis Bunuel’s debut motion picture is probably his best, and easily the highlight of the decade, whether you think you understand it or not.
1930s: M (1931)
Fritz Lang’s follow-up to the monstrously awesome Metropolis is the even better (in fact, fantastic) thriller about vigilante justice and the crazed mind of a serial killer, played with perfect unease by Peter Lorre. Who can forget his fantastic final monologue, and even more difficult to dismiss is the fantastic scenes that lead up to it. A masterpiece, and probably the best movie of the first 50 years of the 1900s.
1940s: Citizen Kane (1941)
Okay, this decade was easy to pick. Proclaimed by many including AFI to be the best movie ever made, that statement is not far from the truth. And when you consider that it was made by new-to-cinema Orson Welles in his twenties, it makes its presence all the more surprising and mighty. It towers over all of cinema with a formidable presence.
1950s: Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Filled with quotable lines, memorable scenes, fantastic cinematography and stunning acting, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece is one awesome movie, full of everything a decent Hollywood film should have. A “parody” of Hollywood life and existence (reflected later in Altman’s The Player, among others), it’s brilliant to watch and marvellous to behold.
1960s: Persona (1966)
Better than any Hollywood movie of the era (many of which were the dawn of exploitation), the exploitative enough Swedish film from Ingmar Bergman contains a lot of strange, deeply rich imagery (reminiscent at times of the Bunuel selection on this list), a strong plot, decent acting performances, beautiful monologues and fantastic filming techniques.
1970s: Network (1976)
Although the best film of the 1970s is probably The Godfather, I think that’s a little too obvious, so I’m going to settle for the runner up, which is equally as good (if not better?). A thought-provoking analysis of the television industry whose revelations about the truth of the newsroom are as relative today (if not moreso) than they were thirty-five years ago.
1980s: Fanny and Alexander (1982)
While the 80s were a decade that provided a difficult choice, I find myself falling back on Bergman again with this epic masterpiece that spans one year into three magnificent hours filled with glorious imagery and some of the best cinematography ever filmed (thank you, Sven Nykvist), as well as a compelling, classic tale. The perfect way to end Bergman’s career in feature films.
1990s: Goodfellas (1990)
This decade is possibly the hardest one to pick. While I admit it isn’t exactly my favourite movie of the ten years, but it’s certainly the most deserving and socially accepting. Scorsese deserves an Oscar which he was cruelly robbed of for this excellent, compelling gangster tale which is probably the best of its time, inspiring a legion of others and confirming Scorsese as a force to be reckoned with.
2000s: There Will Be Blood (2007)
I’ve already written that this is my favourite film of the recent decade, and I stand by that statement. Daniel Day-Lewis is brilliant, giving an amazing performance as charismatic, narcissistic oil man Daniel Plainview whose control and hatred for humanity overcomes him in a spectacular Paul Thomas Anderson hit, which is nowhere near as recognized as it should be.
Leave a comment below with what you thought of my choices, and tell me what your favourite movies of the decade/s are.
Thanks for reading.