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Top 10 Silent Movies

Silent movies. The words leave a fresh echo in my ear and a lasting image in my head. They were the first real ‘movies’ and when they evolved into sound, we were no doubt excited, but there was a tinge of sadness. That great feel of watching a silent movie would never be felt again. Here’s a list of the top ten silent films (in my opinion) ever made during that glorious era.

10: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

One of the most original, provocative, thought-provoking thrillers of its era, Wiene’s famous film, it’s spooky characters and excellent twist are almost impossible to forget, and amazing to watch. And by the way, what happened to that word… somnambulist… bring it back, I say!

9: The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Yeah, I know, I know, it’s racist, blah-blah-blah. I’m not denying it, it is definitely oriented toward a viewpoint of hatred toward African Americans, and that’s wrong, but just think about it, if Griffith had never made this film, we wouldn’t have half of the moviemaking techniques we have today. Awful to watch, astonishingly beautiful to look at.

8: The General (1926)

Keaton scoffs in the face of those “talkies,” sticking to his same, hilarious, risky slapstick even as the age of his art was crippling and slowly dying. The man deserves respect for this and countless other reasons. He is a true genius, and The General proves it.

7: Napoleon (1927)

The life-lasting tale of the famous leader that Stanley Kubrick was desperate to remake but never got the chance to, Abel Gance’s fantastic ‘epic’ is entertaining, gripping and long-lasting, everything a decent silent should be.

6: Nosferatu (1922)

Murnau’s unageing horror movie, perhaps the first vampire movie of all time (considering Les Vampires is apparently not about vampires), is one of the only horror movies that has deeply scared me. Watching it at age seven, I had nightmares for a week, and although it is never said in a real voice, “Your wife has a pretty neck” is a hauntingly recognizable line.

5: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

A collaboration of the artistic mind of Salvador Dali and the visionary film view of Luis Buñuel, this surreal 16-minute drama (thriller, comedy?) which seems to tell a strange, can-you-say-Lynchian story that is almost indecipherable. But who’d want to decode it? It’s there for us to enjoy, and what a treasure it is.

4: Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang’s futuristic thriller laid the path for a legion of movies, from terrific to terrible, and was tragically snubbed for Best Picture in the first ever year of the Oscars! An entertaining thrillride with an effect on its audience to this day, it’s a memorable movie that sadly marked the end of an era.

3: Intolerance (1916)

D.W. Griffith’s apology for the intolerably racist yet still powerfully affecting on the film industry The Birth of a Nation is a fantastic movie which definitely wins him back into our hearts. Presenting the fragile Lillian Gish as a symbol of innocence, he weaves a magnificent tale spanning all time.

2: Greed (1924)

With several different length versions in existence, you could come across any number of copies of Greed if you search hard enough. I’ve only seen the normal version, the easiest to find, but it blew my mind. I’ve never had so much fun watching a film sans sound.

1: The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Perhaps the greatest silent film of all time is Sergei Eisenstein’s fantastic true tale of a famous riot. Fantastic imagery and tons of memorable moments make this a revolutionary, EVOLUTIONARY step forward for film, and not only the best silent film, but one of the best movies altogether.

So that’s my Top Ten? What are silent films you love, or consider to be influential? Your feedback is what I crave, so leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

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A Film For Every Year (1915-1938)

This is a Year best left forgotten!

Every year we have a load of decent films that are released, but one may notice that the amount of good movies released each year is beginning to lower. It’s times like these we need reminder that each year does present us with good films, whether the number is two or twenty. So, I’m going to present a list of films, one for every year from 1915 to 2010, to remind us that there are such things as good films, and that they do happen. This is the first part of four, listing films from 1915 to 1938. Enjoy.

1915:

The Birth of a Nation

Whether or not it is blatantly racist (which I’m sorry to say, it is), one can’t deny the artistic value that D.W. Griffith’s three-hour picture presented in 1915.

1916:

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages

The masterful flow and presentation of this true epic more than makes up for the travesty of racist comment present in its predecessor.

1917:

Cleopatra

The highest-grossing and most expensive movie of the year, this picturesque picture reigned supreme in an otherwise uneventful year.

1918:

Mickey

F. Richard Jones’s 1918 movie was the highest-grossing box office hit of the year, and earns its place on the list as perhaps the year’s best movie.

1919:

Broken Blossoms or: The Yellow Man and the Girl

My favourite film of the 1910s decade is D.W. Griffith’s film about a Chinese man who saves a young girl from her brutal father. Definitely worth seeing.

1920:

Way Down East

Yet another D.W. Griffith movie! Yes it’s true, he is great, and this compelling film outshines that of all the year’s others as a true classic.

1921:

The Kid

A Charlie Chaplin classic, this great film is full of emotion and tone, a perfect silent movie.

1922:

Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens

F.W. Murnau’s horror movie remains to this day one of the scariest, and definitely worth a look on a dark Halloween night. This was the film that got me into silent movies.

1923:

Safety Last!

The image of Harold Lloyd hanging from that clock is one of many reasons this silent comedy is forever a classic. Welcome home!

1924:

Greed

One of my favourite silent films, Erich von Stroheim’s Greed is a timeless, long tale of exactly that, a chain reaction of events following a lottery win. Spectacular.

1925:

Battleship Potemkin

What else? This dramatic account of a naval mutiny is filled to the brim with spectacular imagery and is truly unforgettable.

1926:

The General

It’s about time Buster Keaton made an appearance on this list, and a film like The General is a perfect way to do so. He really proves that he’ll risk it all for the laughs, and that is sadly so rare.

1927:

Metropolis

Fritz Lang hits the list with this great thriller that manages to stand out even amongst the other greats of this tricky year.

1928:

The Cameraman

While not the best Keaton film, it still stands out to me to be an exemplary film for 1928. Keaton’s attempt at becoming a cameraman is amusing, as it should be.

1929:

Un Chien Andalou

A surrealist masterpiece and the best silent film ever made, Luis Bunuel’s 1929 collaboration with Dali is a memorable excersize in artistic fun and shocking imagery.

1930:

L’Age d’Or

The surrealist style of Un Chien Andalou is revisited in this equally masterful excersize in disturbing images. Similar, but different.

1931:

M

Fritz Lang’s masterpiece and the oldest film on my Top 50 films list is this riveting, amazing tale of murder and redemption. Vigilante justice… ain’t it sweet?

1932:

Scarface

This brilliant, original gangster movie is not to be confused with its 1983 counterpart (even though the 1983 film is superior). Great gangster moments and terrific performances paint the screen.

1933:

King Kong

Who could forget this great adventure film, in all its black-and-white monstrous glory? The official monster movie.

1934:

It Happened One Night

Sweeping the Oscars and practically reinventing the romantic comedy, this swell road-trip ride through countless comic situations is original and funny.

1935:

The Triumph of the Will

Please don’t take this choice the wrong way. This is a hugely artistic, valuable film that has been misunderstood time and time again. A documentary about Nazis, this film is not pro-Nazi, but rather quite the opposite.

1936:

Modern Times

Another great Charlie Chaplin classic, this is a refreshing comedy that was undoubtedly the highlight of the year… as you can see.

1937:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

An animated joy, this age-old fairy tale is brought to spectacular life and ingrained forever in the memories of us and our children. Great stuff!

1938:

Bringing Up Baby

A fantastic comedy from Howard Hawks starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, this is a rare treat from one of the true masters.

So there you have it, the first twenty four films of ninety six spanning nearly a hundred years. Leave me a comment with your thoughts; whether you agree or disagree. Next time I’ll be listing films from 1939 to 1962.

Thanks for reading.

The Checklist: Movies I Must See

 

Let’s get a couple of things straight: I am a movie fanatic. I love movies. If ever there were movie lovers, I would make the list by a mile. But alas, I have not been a movie lover my whole life. It was only at the end of 2009, I decided to make a New Years resolution: get more into movies. And so, over the course of 2010, I scoured through all the shortlists of great movies and tried to knock off as many as I could. Of the famous 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, I have seen 193 movies, and counting. When I first purchased the book at the beginning of 2010, I’d only seen 51. I was not experienced with movies, they’d never really interested me. But when I delved into the complex and invigorating wonderland that is film, I fell in love with it. Now more than a year later, I am a fanatic. Every day I watch two movies, minimum, and 80% of the time they are movies I’ve never seen before. I have a Hell of a time checking all those movies off my must-see list and I believe I’ve only ever seen around 600-700 movies in my entire lifetime. Not many. I keep a regular log of the movies I watch, and always write reviews of at least three or four sentences. I give the films a rating on a scale of one to ten, and there are only about 25 movies I’ve ever rated ten. I’m relatively young, too, so I have my whole life ahead of me to complete the difficult challenge of becoming a true movie know-it-all. This is my goal. Before 2010, I barely ever went to the theatre. Now I go at least two or three times a month, wisely choosing which I view. Though it’s healthy to watch a substantial amount of rubbish movies (to help you better appreciate the definition of a good movie), I tend to stick more to classics and more well-received movies.

I have a Top 10o Movies List, ranking my favourite one hundred movies, and I intend to post the list to my blog soon enough. Until then, I will keep watching the movies, reviewing and letting my opinion be heard. Here’s a checklist of movies I really want to see, and I will gradually check each one off.

In random order:

The Seventh Seal

The Third Man

Come and See

Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi

Gone With the Wind

It’s A Wonderful Life

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Citizen Kane

Wild Strawberries

Cinema Paradiso

Singin’ In The Rain

Braveheart

Metropolis

Oldboy

Ran

Judgment at Nuremberg

Platoon

Any of the films of Federico Fellini, but particularly La Strada and 8 1/2

Any of the films of Woody Allen (I’ve only seen Annie Hall, gasp!)

Intolerance

Greed

The King of Comedy

Mean Streets

The Godfather: Part III

Rosemary’s Baby (well, not necessarily this, but anything by Polanski)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Spartacus (the only Kubrick I haven’t seen!)

The Straight Story (the only Lynch I haven’t seen!)

Any popular sport movie that does not star Rosie O’Donnell

Carlito’s Way

All About My Mother

The Decalogue

Any movie that lasts longer than 3 hours (I’m a freak for excessively long movies!)

Nashville

On The Waterfront

Any of the great, surreal cinematic masterpieces of the 1920s or 1960s, the two most eventful periods for film development.

That one with that guy who was in that movie that was out last year?

So I think, off the top of my head, that’s basically the list. Please, tell me in the comments what you think of these movies if you’ve seen any of them. I know I’ll get around to watching them all eventually. Did you like them? Did you hate them? Inform me, and when I check them off, I’ll be sure to write a review. BTW, if I had to place one of these at the top of the list of must-sees, it would be Nashville. I’m a complete Altman whore.

Thanks for reading.