*And supplementary lecture on the nature of silent film.
This blog is due for another silent film, and the one that I have selected is Battleship Potemkin (or, in Russian, Bronenosyets Potyomkin). As was recently posted, Potemkin stands at number 2 on my list of the “Most Important Films of All Time.” These are films selected strictly for aesthetic and technical innovation, with the qualification that said innovation produced radical change in the popular movie landscape, and not due to story or tertiary film elements along the lines of score, acting, or literary devices—save for those situations when one of those tertiary elements brought forth radical change (Wizard of Oz, for example). These were, quite simply, decided upon the film itself. Not the film as in “the movie,” but film as in the film, the literal celluloid collection. Embracing film as a singular art medium is a necessary facet to understanding silent films, and is unfortunately lost in much of what we consider quality film criticism today. Continue reading →
While historical significance certainly plays its role in helping me determine my favorite films (see my “Greatest Films of All Time” list), other factors played equally poignant parts: my own personal bias, the impact of the film upon viewers, film quality and popularity, to name a few. But, insofar as this blog is designed to help the casual movie-goer become a competent one, I must help by making more specialized lists. This particular list looks at historical and cinematographic significance as a complex dual-characteristic: namely, “importance.” Often, lists of this type go by the name of “influential.” But “influential” means important only in the context of history and fad. “Important,” on the other hand, involves the goal of this blog. These films are “important” in that they help create a backdrop wherein one can contextually understand the development of film and the proper languages of film—as André Bazin would put it—which open your eyes to the world of cinema. I wish I had paid better attention to lists like this one in my early days of movie-going. I believe that it would have helped a lot.
The following movies were “influential” to other movies that followed. They are “important” to you and to me, the viewers, in our attempt to become more competent movie-watchers. Continue reading →
I hope I timed this well. I stated in my review of The Godfather that certain movies are better than others for the novice movie-watcher in order to springboard into the finer world of film. I said that Hitchcock films, Coppola films, and silent films all fit that regulatory bill. Other films are also fitting, but for consistency’s sake, and for structure’s sake, I stated those three categories. I intend to keep to my aforementioned schedule so as to not confuse anyone, and also so I don’t have to backtrack and edit old comments due to my own lack of foresight. We have a Hitchcock movie and a Coppola movie under our belt already. Now, it’s time for a silent film. Continue reading →
Please read this list in conjunction with my chapter on Auteur Theory. The list attempts to reconcile a given director’s overall oeuvre, cinematic contributions (to theory and culture), and my personal taste. In some cases, I considered popularity; there is something to say about a directors ability to garner an audience. You will see that a good number of usual favorites do not make the cut in this list. That is because a lot of these, unfortunately, don’t live up to my standard. Continue reading →