Cinema that was invented in the last decade of 19th century, flourished in the 20th century and for the most part,it was the most popular and in a way the most creative art format, borrowing from other art forms. After the invention of television, and the production of TV films in the second half of the last century, and later on the internet media and the new age of digitalism and online streaming or stealing of the movies, at least over the past couple of decades, Cinema has lost its glory. At the same time, while in the first half or most of the 20th century, Cinema was heavily in the hands of story tellers, photographers, and actors, who were all led by the filmmaker or the creator, in the last few decades of the past century and more so in the present 21st century, it is dominated by digital special effects and out of reality. So cinema as an art format has greatly transformed to a technical/digital industry. Along the many efforts across the globe to save this modern art against the box office sales pressure and capital demand, this site hopes to contribute a small part in this endeavor!
Cinema initially sprang from photography, so that later on and to this day, it is called “motion picture” or “movies”, while the term “film” could be used for both cinema and photography. In the beginning, cinema was simply, pictures in motion with no other adding arts or technology, such as sound, music, or else, but acting. That is why for the first few decades since the birth of cinema, the movies were “silent” and this art form had to rely basically on the power of imagery with all its cinematographic components and the filmmakers like painters on canvas had to do whatever they could to create a powerful moving picture on the screen in addition to silent acting without talk. In this endeavor, some relied on set design, the use of light and shadows, like the German expressionists, and some relied on editing like Eisenstein, and some relied mostly on acting and sensible realism like Chaplin. At the time and even today, it is easier to rate and rank a silent film, as there were no white noise of sound or talk and all were imagery and picture in motion to measure. Due to simplicity, originality and the role of these pure ingredients, the silent films are still on the top of many best films of all time, such as the works of Serge Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, D.W.Griffith, and Charles Chaplin.
The sound brought theatrical acting to the cinema despite strong oppositions of silent films’ actors who were great action actors, specially in comedy. While 1920’s were still dominated by the silent movies, the 1930’s were the era of infiltration of theatrical acting to cinema that lasted for several decades until the recent domination of special effects and interception of digitalism into cinema. Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart, Catharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, James Dean and Marlon Brando were such actors who stemmed from theatre or acted as such. This continued to the modern era so that the newer actors such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio continued with such legacy. The theatrical acting while added rich flavor to the story telling and content through dialogues to the cinema, in many instances became very close to theatrical plays and robbed the cinematic experience and presentation, and limited the filmmakers in showing their talents. This is somewhat parallel to the digital cinema nowadays, where digitalism and special effects have totally stolen the rich cinematic creation.
Evaluation, rating and ranking movies, is not a matter of personal taste, likeness, or even a collective voting of majority, as the majority could be wrong and do not consider all the components of a film, with a delicate consideration of the differential factors. In other words, the role of camera, acting and editing are not the same and do not carry the similar weights as special effect. Unfortunately this has not been done closely in most rating and ranking of the motion pictures and the best lists, or awards such as Oscar. Beyond the different components of a film, that somewhat and singularly are recognized as in awards for script, acting, editing, directing, etc., the following factors in ranking the best films are essential. (Of course based on the following criteria, the earlier a film, the higher the rank would be, except the films that in addition to these factors, they have the “best impression” that could go beyond the time boundary. This is certainly very rare and on our list could include only a few rare top films such as “The Battleship Potemkin”, “Man with a movie camera” and “Metropolis”. Finally any originality and technicality if not cinematic or visual and at the service of story telling, entertainment or enlightening , like experimental works of some such as Godard do not count in this site evaluation and ranking of the films.
- Originality: No matter how well a film has been made today, if it is a copy of an original work, or an adaptation in one form or another, it would put it out of any best rank. An original work, even if not well done to perfection, it is still original and a creation that needs to be considered. Of course the earlier films fairly take on a lot of credits from this factor, but this may encourage the true filmmakers not to be copiers or followers but original and creative!
- Technicality: This factor should cover all the technical aspects of filmmaking from the story and script to the all works of camera, acting, editing, special effects, etc. The originality and proper application of each technique or component need to be considered in ranking.
- Impact Factor/Significance: This is the factor influencing other films, urging them to copy and experience the original work in part or in whole. This factor is not only the influence that an original work has on the industry, but on people in general and other forms of art and aspects of life as well. In conjunction with the influence that a film could have on other films or else, the significance of the film on cinema as a whole and on the history of this art medium is important and will be counted on.
- Survival: This shows how long a work, no matter how great, it will be remembered and looks fresh for years to come, specially in the eyes of the true cinema patriots.
Throughout this site, in writing on films and ranking them, the above factors will be delicately considered, though no evaluation or ranking could be rightful. Such comprehensive evaluation and ranking will hopefully encourage others to take on such or similar process in ranking and awarding, and avoiding a single factor such as the content of the story for political or trend of the time reasons!
Almost all available films in English or with English subtitles from the early years of inception of cinema in this list have been diligently reviewed. Since the originality criteria is very important and could affect the other criteria of technicality, impact and survival, this review has been so far until the year 1969. The following films that have been on some greatest films lists or have been ranked high or awarded by different organizations, have been particularly more carefully watched and reviewed.
In evaluation and recognition of the great and specifically the greatest films, beyond the factors of originality, technicality, impact factor and survival, the overall and instant impression of a film has been greatly considered. This impression that instantly in the first few minutes of the film befalls on the viewer, is what could move a film up the ladder of time and originality to the top of this list here. This impression factor also could include a film that’s not original in singularity, but original and novel in the application of previous original techniques.
The story content of the film does not bear any importance on this site in recognition and ranking the great films as it is customary in other awards and ranking recognitions. Also any adaptation from other sources such as novels or plays to the film takes off the originality of the film, unless such adaptation has become an original of its own. This list of greatest films of all time, unlike many other such lists is not limited to a certain number, e.g. 100, so it could be less or more and it is also ongoing, though the newer films have less chance or such recognition due to the high chance of lack of originality.
The films in blue colour have been great, but not the greatest to be in our list, and the film in red colour have been the greatest films of all time in our list:
1906:The story of Kelly Craig (Charles Tait) (Australia)
1911:L’inferno (Francesco Bertolini) (France) Defence of Sevastopol (A.Khanzonov/V.Goncharov) (Russia)
1912:Cleopatra (C.Gaskil) (USA) Robin Hood (E.Arnaud/H.Blache) (USA)
1913:Ouo Vadis (Enrico Guazzoni) (Italy) L’enfent de Paris (Leonce Perret) (France)
1914:Cinderella (J,Kirkwood Sr.)(USA) The Mysterious X (B.Christensen) (Denmark)
1915:The Birth of a Nation (D.W.Griffith) (USA) The Golem (P.Wegener/H.Galeen) (Germany) Alice in the Wonderland (W.W.Young) (USA) The Italian (R.Barker) (USA)
1916:Intolerance (D.W.Griffith) (USA) 20,000 Leagues under the sea (S.Paton) (USA) Sherlock Holmes (A.Berthelet) (USA) The end of the world (A.Blom) (Denmark)
1918:A trip to Mars (Holger-Madsen) (Denmark)
1919:Harariki (F.Lang) (Germany)
1920:The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (R. Wiene) (Germany) Erotikon (M.Stiller) (Sweden)
1921:The Kid (Chaplin) (USA)
1922:Nanook of the North (R.J. Flahery) (USA) Nosferatu (F.W.Murnau) (Germany) Othello (D.Buchowetzki) (Germany)
1923:The Ten Commandments (C.B.DeMille) (USA)
1924:Greed (E.v. Stroheim) (USA) America (W.D.Griffith) (USA)
1925:The Battleship Potemkin (Eisentein) (Russia) The Gold Rush (Chaplin) (USA) Strike (Eisenstein) (Russia) Orochi (B.Futagawa) (Japan)
1926:The General (B.Keaton) (USA) Nana (J.Renoir) (France)
1927:Metropolis (Fritz Lang) (Germany) Wings (W. Wellman) (USA) Sunrise: A song of two humans (R.Longford) (USA) The Jazz singer (A.Crosland) (USA) Berlin: Symphony of a great city (W.Ruttmann) (Germany) October (Ten days that shook the World) (Esienstein) (Russia) The end of Petersburg (V.Pudovkin/M.Doller) (Russia)
1928:The Crowd (K.Vidor) (USA) The passion of Joan of arc (C.T. Dreyer) (France) The last command (J.v. Sternberg) (USA) The circus (Chaplin) (USA)
1929:Man with a movie camera (D.Vertov) (Russia) Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (L.Bunuel) (Spain) Pandora’s box (G.W.Pabst) (Germany) The Broadway melody (H.Beaumont) (USA) Tokyo March (Mizoguchi) (Japan)
1930:All quiet on the western front (L.Milestone) (USA) Earth (A. Dovezhneko) (Russia) L’age d’or (Luis Bunuel) (Spain) The blue angel (E.Dmytryk) (Germany) A’ propos de Nice (J.Vigo) (France)
1931:Dracula (T.Browning)(USA) City lights (Chaplin) (USA) Grand Hotel (E.Goulding) (USA) M (F.Lang) (Germany) Cimarron (W.Ruggles) (USA) Frankenstein (J.Whale) (USA)
1932:Cavalcade (F.Lloyd) (USA) A farewell to arms (F. Borzage) (USA) Trouble in paradise (E.Lubitsch) (USA) Freaks (T.Browning) (USA) Boudu saved from drowning (J.Renoir) (France) Scarface (H.Hawks) (USA) L’Atlantide (G.W.Pabst) (Germany/France)
1933:Baby face (A.Green) (USA) King Kong (M.Cooper/E.Schoedsack) (USA) Duck soup (L.McCarey) (USA) 42nd street (L.Bacon/B.Berkeley) (USA) Zero for conduct (J.Vigo) (France) Don Quixote (G.W.Pabst) (France/England)) Land without bread (L.Bunuel) (Spain) The Invisible Man (J.Whale) (USA)
1934:It’s a gift (N.Mcleod) (USA) Three songs about Lenin (D.Vertov) (Russia)
1935:The 39 steps (Hitchcock) (USA) Triumph of the will (L.Rienfenstahl) (Germany) The informer (J.Ford) (USA) The Bride of Frankenstein (J.Whale) (USA) A night at the opera (S.Wood) (USA) Top hat (M.Sandrich) (USA)
1936:Modern times (Chaplin) (USA) The great Ziegfeld (R.Z.Leonard) (USA) Camille (G.Cukor) (USA) The crime of Monsieur Lange (J.Renoir) (Franace) Swing time (G.Stevens) (USA) Night mail (H.Smith) (USA)
1937: La Grand illusion (J.Renoir) (France) Pepe le Moko (J.Duvivier) (France) Snow white and the seven dwarfs (USA)(W.Disney/D.Hand/W.Jackson/L.Morey/P.Pearce/B.Sharpsteen) Humanity and paper balloons (S.Yamanaka) (Japan) The awful truth (L.McCarey) (USA)
1938:Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein) (Russia) The lady vanishes (Hitchcock) (USA) Pygmalion (A.Asquith/L.Howard) (USA) You can’t take it with you (F.Capra) (USA) Olympia (L.Reifenestahl) (Germany) Jezebel (W.Wyler) (USA) The Adventures of Robin Hood (M.Curtiz) (USA)
1939:Le jour se leve (M.Carne) (France) The rules of the game (J.Renoir) (France) The wizard of Oz (V.Fleming) (USA) Gone with the wind (V.Fleming) (USA) Stagecoach (J.Ford) (USA) Ninotchka (E.Lubitsch) (USA) Wuthering heights (W.Wyler) (USA)
1940:Fantasia (S.Armstrong/J.Algar…) (USA) The great dictator (Chaplin) (USA) The grapes of wrath (J.Ford) (USA) Rebecca (Hitchcock) (USA) Pinocchio (W.Disney/B.Sharpsteen…) (USA) The Philadelphia Story (G.Cukor) (USA)
1941:Citizen Kane (O.Welles) (USA) The Maltese Falcon (J.Huston) (USA) How green was my valley (J.Ford) (USA) Sullivan’s Travels (P.Sturges) (USA) The Lady Eve (P.Sturges) (USA)
1942:Casablanca (M.Curtiz) (USA) The magnificent Ambersons (O.Welles) (USA) Mrs. Miniver (W.Wyler) (USA) Listen to Britain (H.Jennings) (England)
1943:The life and death of colonel Blimp (M.Powell) (England) Titanic (H.Selpin) (Germany) Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock) (USA)
1944:Going my way (L.McCarey) (USA) Double indemnity (B.Wilder) (USA) Gaslight (G.Cukor) (USA) Meet Me in St. Louis (V.Minnelli) (USA) Laura (O.Preminger) (USA)
1945:Brief encounter (D.Lean) (USA) The lost weekend (B.Wilder) (USA) Spellbound (Hitchcock) (USA) Children of paradise (M.Carne) (France) Detour (E.Ulmer) (USA) Rome, Open City (R.Rossellini) (Italy) The turning point (Fridrikh Ermler) (Russia) A diary for Timothy (H.Jennings) (England)
1946:The best years of our lives (W.Wyler) (USA) It’s a wonderful life (F.Capra) (USA) Notorious (Hichcock) (USA) My darling Celmentine (J.Ford) (US) Beauty and the beast (J.Cocteau) (France) The Killers (R.Siodmak) (USA)
1947:Gentleman’s agreement (E.Kazan) (USA) Out of the past (J.Tourneur) (England)
1948:The Fallen idol (C.Reed) (England) Bicycle thieves (De Sica) (Italy) The treasure of Sierra Madre (J.Huston) (USA) Hamlet (L.Olivier) (England) Monsieur Vincent (M.Cloche) (France) Letter from an unknown woman (M.Ophuls) (USA) Red River (H.Hawks) (USA) The red shoes (M.Powell) (England) Macbeth (O.Welles) (USA) Germany year zero (R.Rossellini) (Italy) La Terra Trema (Luchino Visconti) (Italy) Le sang des bêtes (G.Franju) (France) Drunken Angel (Kurosawa) (Japan)
1949:Kind hearts and coronets (R.Hamer) (England) The Third Man (C.Reed) (England) All the king’s men (R.Rossen) (USA) Late spring (Y.Ozu) (Japan)
1950:Rashomon (Kurosawa) (Japan) All about Eve (J.Mankiewicz) (USA) Sunset Blvd. (B.Wilder) (USA) The walls of Malapaga (R.Clement) (France) In a lonely place (N.Ray) (USA) Orphee (J.Cocteau) (France) Los Olvidados (L.Bunuel) (Spain)
1951:Miss Julie (Alf Sjoberg) (Sweden) A streetcar named Desire (E. Kazan) (USA) An American in Paris (V. Minnelli) (USA) The African Queen (J. Huston) (USA) Diary of a country priest (R.Bresson) (France) The River (J.Renoir) (France) Othello (O.Welles) (USA) The day the Earth stood still (Robert Wise) (USA)
1952:Forbidden games (R. Clement) (France) Ikiru (Kurosawa) (Japan) The importance of being earnest (A. Asquith) (England) Umberto D. (De Sica) (Italy) The white sheik (Fellini) (Italy) High noon (Fred Zinnemann) (USA) The quiet man (J.Ford) (USA) Limelight (Chaplin) (USA) Singin’ in the rain (G.Kelly/S.Donen) (USA)
1953:M.Hulot’s holiday (J.Tati) (France) Ugetsu (K.Mizoguchi) (Japan) The wages of fear (H.G. Clouzot) (France/Italy) Tokyo story (Y.Ozu) (Japan0 The war of the worlds (B.Haskin) (USA) Julius Caesar (J.Mankiewicz) (USA) Shane (G.Stevens) (USA) From here to eternity (F.Zinnemann) (USA) Roman holiday (W.Wyler) (USA) The robe (H.Coster) (USA) The earrings of Madame De..(M.Ophuls) (France)
1954:Seven Samurai (Kurosawa) (Japan) La Strada (Fellini) (Italy) On the waterfront (Kazan) (USA) Gate of hell (T.Kinugasa) (Japan) Journey to Italy (Rossellini) (Italy) Rear window (Hitchcock) (USA) Godzilla (I.Honda) (Japan) Twenty-four eyes (K.Kinoshita) (Japan) Johnny guitar (N.Ray) (USA) Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi) (Japan) A star is born (G.Cukor) (USA) Sabrina (B.Wilder) (USA) Seven brides for seven brothers (S.Donen) (USA)
1955:Richard III (L.Olivier) (England) Summertime (D.Lean) (USA) Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali) (Satyajit Ray) (India) Oklahoma (F.Zinnemann) (USA) Rebel without a cause (Kazan) (USA) Samurai, the legend of Musashi (H.Inagaki) (Japan) Smiles of a summer night (I.Bergman) (Sweden) The night of the hunter (C.Laughton) (USA) Les diaboliques (H.G.Clouzot) (France) Marty (D.Mann) (USA) East of Eden (Kazan) (USA) To catch a thief (Hitchcock) (USA)
1956:The Searchers (J.Ford) (USA) The ten commandments (C.B.DeMille) (USA) Giant (G.Stevens) (USA) The king and I (W.Lang) (USA) The silent world (J.Cousteau) (France) Invasion of the body snatchers (D.Siegel) (USA) A man escaped (Bresson) (France) The Burmese Harp (K.Ichikawa) (Japan) Written on the wind (D.Sirk) (USA) And God created woman (R.Vadim) (France) Night and fog (A.Resnais) (France) Apu trilogy (Aparajito) (S.Ray) (India) Moby Dick (J.Huston) (USA)
1957: The seventh seal (Bergman) (Sweden) Wild strawberries (Bergman) (Sweden) 12 angry men (S.Lumet) (USA) Nights of Cabiria (Fellini) (Italy) Sweet smell of success (A.Mackendrick) (USA) Peyton place (M.Robson) (USA) Paths of glory (Kubrick) (USA) The cranes are flying (M.Kalatazov) (Russia) Throne of blood (Kurosawa) (Japan) The bridge on the river Kwai (D.Lean) (USA)
1958:Ashes and diamonds (A.Wajda) (Poland) Ivan the terrible, part II (Eisenstein) (Russia) Cat on a hot tin roof (R.Brooks) (USA) Mon Oncle (J.Tati) (France) Vertigo (Hitchcock) (USA) Touch of evil (O.Welles) (USA) The hidden fortress (Kurosawa) (Japan)
1959:Ballad of a soldier (G.Chukhrai) (Russia) Fires on the plain (K.Ichikawa) (Japan) Floating weeds (Y.Ozu) (Japan) The 400 blows (Trauffaut) (France) Some like it hot (B.Wilder) (USA) Ben Hur (W.Wyler) (USA) Anatomy of a murder (O.Preminger) (USA) Black Orpheus (O.Negro) (France) North by Northwest (Hitchcock) USA) Hiroshima, mon amour (A.Resnais) (France) Pickpocket (Bresson) (France) Il generale Della Rovere (Rossellini) (Italy) The human condition (M.Kobayashi) (Japan) Moi, un noir (J. Rouch) (France) Rio Bravo (H.Hawks) (USA) The Great War (M.Monicelli) (Italy/France) A summer place (D. Daves) (USA) Apu Trilogy (The World of Apu) (S.Ray) (India) The Unsent letter (M.Kalatazov) (Russia)
1960:L’Avventura (Antonioni) (Italy) The virgin spring (Bergman) (Sweden) Breathless (Godard) (France) La Dolce Vita (Fellini) (Italy) Psycho (Hitchcock) (USA) The apartment (B.Wilder) (USA) Two women (De Sica) (Italy) Eyes without a face (G.Franju) (France) Rocco and his brothers (L.Visconti) (Italy) When a woman ascends the stairs (M.Naruse) (Japan) Purple Noon (R.Clement) (France) The magnificent seven (J.Sturges) (USA) Peeping Tom (M.Powell) (England) Spartacus (Kubrick) (USA) Cimarron (A.Mann) (USA) Ocean’s Eleven (L.Milestone) (USA) The World of Suzie Wong (R.Quine) (England/USA) Elmer Gantry (R.Brooks) (USA) Shoot the piano player (Truffaut) (France)
1961:Il Posto (E.Olmi) (Italy) Viridiana (Bunuel) (Spain) West side story (R.Wise) (USA) Through a glass darkly (Bergman) (Sweden) The long absence (H.Colpi) (France) Yojimbo (Kurosawa) (Japan) Splendor in the grass (Kazan) (USA) La Notte (Antonioni) (Italy) Breakfast at Tiffany’s (B.Edwards) (USA) One, two, three (B.Wilder) (USA) The Hustler (R.Rossen) (USA) Barabbas (Richard Fleischer) (Italy)
1962:Jules and Jim (Trauffaut) (France) Knife in the water (Polanski) (Poland) Lawrence of Arabia (D.Lean) (USA) To kill a mockingbird (R.Mulligan) (USA) Sundays and Cybele (S.Bourguignon) (France) Keeper of promises (A.Duarte) (Brazil) La Jetee (C.Marker) (France) The Manchurian candidate (J.Frankenheimer) (USA) Birdman of Alcatraz (J.Frankenheimer) (USA) Cape fear (J.L.Thompson) (USA) Lolita (Kubrick) (USA) Sweet bird of youth (R.Brooks) (USA) Ivan’s childhood (A.Tarkovsky) (Russia) L’Eclisse (Antonioni) (Italy) Salvatore Giuliano (F.Rosi) (Italy) Harakiri (Kobayashi) (Japan) Cleo from 5 to 7 (A.Varda) (France/Italy) The trial (O. Welles) (USA) Sanjuro (Kurosawa) (Japan) Two weeks in another town (V.Minnelli) (USA) Phaedra (J.Dassin) (France) My life to live (Godard) (France)
1963:81/2 (Fellini) (Italy) Eat (A.Warhol) (USA) America America (Kazan) (USA) How the west was won (J.Ford/H.Hathaway/G.Marshall) (USA) Lilies of the field (R.Nelson) (USA) The Leopard (Visconti) (Italy) Charade (S.Donen) (USA) The Birds (Hitchcock) (USA) Contempt (Le Mepris) (Godard) (France) The house is black (F.Farokhzad) (Iran) The Pink Panther (B.Edwards) (USA) The Silence (Bergman) (Sweden) Shock corridor (S.Fuller) (USA) Winter Light (Bergman) (Sweden) Jason and Argonauts (J.Chaffey) (USA) The Great Escape (J.Sturges) (USA) It’s a mad, mad, mad world (S.Kramer) (USA) Cleopatra (J.Mankiewicz) (USA) Lord of the flies (P.Brook) (USA) The Servant (J.Losey) (Italy) The fire within (L.Malle) (France) Le petit soldat (Godard) (France) The Big City (S.J.Ray) (India)
1964:Dr.Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb (Kubrick) (USA) For a fistful of dollars (S.Leone) (Italy) Becket (P.Glenville) (England/USA) Yesterday, today, tomorrow (De Sica) (Italy) The umbrellas of Cherbourg (J.Demy) (France) Band a part (Band or outsiders) (Godard) (France) A Hard day’s night (R.Lester) (England) The naked kiss (S.Fuller) (USA) Hamlet (S.Kozintsev) (Russia) Marriage Italian style (De Sica) (Italy) The Gospel according to St.Matthew (Pasolini) (Italy) Scorpio rising (K.Anger) (USA) Mary Poppins (R.Stevenson) (USA) Goldfinger (G.Hamilton) (USA) I am Cuba (Kalataov) Russia) The fall of the Roman Empire (A.Mann) (USA) Diamonds of the Night (Jan Němec) (Czechoslovakia) Before the Revolution (Bertolucci) (Italy) Black Peter (M.Forman) (Czechoslovakia) My Fair Lady (G.Cukor) (USA) Red Desert (Antonioni) (Italy) The night of the Iguana (J.Huston) (USA) Kwaidan (Kobayashi) (Japan) Gate of flesh (S.Suzuki) (Japan)
1965:Fists in the pocket (M.Bellocchio) (Italy) Loves of a blonde (M.Forman) (Czechoslovakia) Dr.Zhivago (D.Lean) (USA) The sound of music (R.Wise) (USA) The shop on Main street (Jan Kadar/Elmar Klos) (Czechoslovakia) The knack…and how to get it (Richard Lester) (England) Pierrot le fou (Godard) (France) Cat Ballou (Elliot Silverstein) (USA) Repulsion (Polanski) (England) Chimes at midnight (O. Welles) (USA) Red beard (Kurosawa) (Japan) Sandra of a Thousand Delights (Visconti) (Italy) Alphaville (Godard) (France)
1966:The battle of Algiers (Gilo Pontecorvo) (Italy/Algeria) The good, the bad and the ugly (S.Leone) (Italy) A man for all seasons (Fred Zinnemann) (England) The sand pebbles (R.Wise) (USA) Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols) (USA) A man and a woman (Claude Lelouch) (France) Au hazard Balthazar (Bresson) (France/Sweden) Persona (Bergman) (Sweden) Andrei Rublev (A.Tarkovsky) (Russia) Blow-up (Antonioni) (Italy) Farenheit 451 (Trauffaut) (France) Tokyo drifter (S.Suzuki) (Japan) Black girl (O.Sembene) (France/Senegal) War and Peace (King Vidor) (USA) Alfie (Lewis Gilbert) (USA) The Chase (Arthur Penn) (USA) Torn Curtain (Hitchcock) (USA) Is Paris burning? (Rene Clement) (France)
1967:Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn) (USA) The Graduate (Mike Nichols) (USA) In the heat of the night (Norman Jewison) (USA) Closely watched trains (Jiri Menzel) (Czechoslovakia) Playtime (Jacques Tati) (France) The producers (Mel Brooks) (USA) Mouchette (Bresson) (France) The dirty dozen (Robert Aldrich) (USA/England) The taming of the shrew (Franco Zeffirelli) (USA) Le Samurai (jean-Pierre Melville) (France) Belle de Jour (Luis Bunuel) (France/Italy) Memories of underdevelopment (Tomas Gutieerz Alea) (Cuba) Wavelength (Michael Snow) (Canada/USA) Don’t look back (D.A. Pennebaker) (USA) Titicut follies (Fredrick Wiseman) (USA) Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke) (USA) Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg) (USA) Guess who’s coming to dinner (Stanley Cramer) (USA) War and peace (Segei Bondarchuk) (Russia) Doctor Faustus (Richard Burton/Nevil Coghill) (England) Barefoot in the park (Gene Saks) (USA) Wait until dark (Terence Young) (USA) In cold blood (Richard Brooks) (USA) Camelot (Joshua Logan) (USA) A countess from Hong Kong (Chaplin) (USA) Oedipus Rex (Pasolini) (Italy) Reflection in a golden eye (John Huston) (USA)
1968:Planet of the Apes (Franklin Schaffner) (USA) 2001: A space odyssey (Kubrick) (USA) Night of the living dead (George Romero) (USA) Oliver (Carol Reed) (England) Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli) Italy/England) The lion in the winter (Anthony Harey) (England/USA) Once upon a time in the west (S.Leone) (Italy) Faces (John Cassavetes) (USA) Rosemary’s baby (R.Polanski) (USA) The swimmer (Frank Oerry/Sydney Polack) (USA) Two comrades were serving (Yevgeny Karelov) (Russia) Kuroneko (The Black Cat) (Kaneto Shindo) (Japan) Walden (Diaries, notes and sketches) (Jonas Mekas) (USA) Bullitt (Peter Yates) (USA) Shame (Ingmar Bergman) (Sweden) Hour of the Wolf (Bergman) (Sweden) Funny Girl (William Wyler) (USA) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ken Hughes) (USA/England) The Party (Blake Edwards) (USA) Isadora (Karek Reisz) (England/France) Charly (Ralph Nelson) (USA) Stolen Kisses (Truffaut) (France) Rachel, Rachel (Paul Newman) (USA) The Boston Strangler (Richard Fleischer) The Shoes of the Fisherman (Michael Anderson) (USA) If…. (Lindsay Anderson) (England)
1969:Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill) (USA) Midnight cowboy (John Schlesinger) (USA) Z(Costa-Gavras) (Algeria/France) Wild bunch (Sam Pekinpah) (USA) They shoot horses, don’t they? (Sydney Pollack) (USA) Army of shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville) (France) The sorrow and the pity (Marcel Ophuls) (France) My night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer) (Frnace) Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper) (USA) The Red Tent (Mikhail Kaltozov) (Russia) Salesman (Albert & David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin) (USA) Fellini’s Satyricon (Fellini) (Italy) The passion of Anna (Bergman) (Sweden) Topaz (Hitchcock) (USA)
This film adaptation of the true story of the famous couple bank robbers, Bonnie Parker (1910-1934) and Clyde Barrow (1909-1934) during the American Great Depression of the 1930’s by Arthur Penn, has become such a classic of its genre, affected so many later films and filmmakers, and more importantly popularized positively this couple gangsters that could hardly be ignored on any great films of all time list. Fay Dunaway as Bonnie and Warren Beatty as Clyde played their best film roles ever and Gene Hackman as Buck Barrow was introduced the arena of cinema as a serious actor, while the acting of Michael J. Pollard as C.W. Moss and Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow (Buck’s wife) were memorable.
The great and artistic direction of Arthur Penn created such a prototypic romantic gangster film with thrills, horror and violence that had hardly been equaled though adapted and copied part by part many times. Bringing some of the French new wave or Avant Garde cinematic techniques to Hollywood, such as its fast pace and choppy editing, Arthur Penn assisted by Charles Strouse with his fast beat music score and Burnett Guffey with his great cinematography, they teache Americans at the time and in the future how to make influential gangster films.
The writers of the film, David Newman and Robert Benton influenced by the French new wave writers and cinema, first approached the popular French filmmaker Francois Truffaut who made some suggestions to the story, then Jean-Luc Godard who agreed to make the film, but oddly wanted to shoot it in New Jersey that was refused by the writers as the real story happened in Texas. Then while Warren Beatty was visiting Paris at the time and learnt about the project from Truffaut, he bought the right to the story and convinced the writers that an American director is needed for an American film though the story is of French new wave style. Beatty offered the script to quite a few directors such as George Stevens, William Wyler, Karel Reisz, John Schlesinger and Sydney Pollack who luckily all refused. Arthur Penn initially refused to direct the film as well, but Beatty’s insistence convinced him to get on the project that finally brought him fame as a capable filmmaker. It must have been a great regret for Beatty himself who goes on to become a great filmmaker himself with great classics such as “Reds” that he did not make the film himself.
While Beatty wanted to play the Clyde’s part himself, choosing the actress for the Bonnie’s part was not easy and that was refused by Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda among others, and Faye Dunaway begged for the part and all were lucky for her playing the part. Bonnie and Clyde brought so many accolades and awards for all participants in the film, with 10 nominations at the Academy Awards, and ranking 27 in AFI’s first edition in 1998 and 42 in its edition of 2008 and ranking 5th in its top gangster film list among many other lists and awards.
A Classic in its own Genre:
The film opens with a brief text bio-introduction of the real characters of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow before getting together, and starting a life-long love and adventure relationship. In the first visual scene, Bonnie is seen in her bedroom half naked and bored. Then she looks down outside through the window and sees a young man, Clyde trying to steal her mother’s car. She gets dressed fast and goes down to confront him and scorns him to be ashamed stealing an old woman‘s car. He claims that he has been browsing it to buy the car. All these happening in a mellow, friendly and somewhat comic way, with both the couple from their looks and ways of conversation seem to have already been drawn to each other.
They continue with their get to know each other’s chat, while Bonnie following Clyde walking away from her house and on the street of a Texan small town. Soon Clyde breaks to Bonnie of his profession as a bank robber with pride and that he has just been released out of jail that surprisingly excites Bonnie who seemed to have been waiting for such great opportunity to seek her freedom. To prove to her what he claims of being a robber, he shows his gun that she challenges him not to be brave enough to use it. He robs a grocery store and comes out with a handful of cash, jumping into a stolen car, inviting Bonnie to join him. She jumps in with joy and the couple drive away, starting their romance and adventure together from this point.
Bonnie too excited, while Clyde behind the wheel, jumps on his laps, starting to kiss and worship him. After a brief drive to her surprise, Clyde stops the car and discloses to her that he is not a lover boy, wishing to get into her pants. Then in a restaurant where he buys her a hamburger, he starts analyzing her and tells her life story like a psyche that she deserves more than being a waitress in a small town and going with ordinary local boys who just want her for sex. He draws the plan of working together as lovers and partners in the bank robbery that tempts Bonnie more than before.
In the next scene when they stop by a desolate house taken over by a bank from the owners not paying off their loan, they meet the poor owners, a family with a black male worker. Clyde confesses to them that they rob the banks and he lets them release their anger by shooting through the house windows. In a gas station where the two stop for fuel, a young man working there, C.W.Moss intrigued to join the team, but has to prove his robbing capability by emptying the cash of the gas station and give it them, that he does and the threesome drive off.
The police already on alert and chasing them, as Clyde when attacked by a convenience store employee, has been identified. In the next robbery, C.W. Moss as the driver, when Bonnie and Clyde walk into a bank for robbery, he parks the car between two other cars instead of waiting in the running car up in the front. The couple running out of the bank, looking for their car and in a delay until Moss drives up, Clyde had to shoot and kill a security man, who followed him. This upsets Clyde who blames Moss for his clumsiness and that now they would be chased all around by the police for murder. He asks Bonnie to leave him and go back to her mama and get married to a rich man, but she refuses. He reminds her that with him there will be only trouble that Bonnie wants him to promise that!
On the road they go to meet Clyde’s older brother, Buck who along with his wife, Blanche take them to their recently purchased house. Blanche with an opposite personality to Bonnie, as a whining and fragile woman, bores Bonnie to death. Soon after a grocery order delivery to the house, their place is raided by the police and they have to shoot a couple of cops to get out of the trap and drive away. Blanche scared, freaks out and runs away that they have to get her in the car on the run. While in the car, Blanche blames Bonnie and Clyde, and asks Bob to get out of the trouble, but he says that he cannot as he has already shot and killed a cop. Bonnie fights with Blanche and in turn asks Clyde to leave them behind that Clyde refuses to desert his brother.
Soon while the gang having a short stop by a lake, reading in newspaper of their bravery that is all over the news, a Texan ranger spots them. Clyde who notices the ranger, catches him off guard first and disarms him. The gang, specially Bonnie makes fun of the ranger, taking pictures with him and when she forces her kiss on him, he spits on her in disgust. This infuriates them all, specially Clyde who kicks and throws the ranger on a nearby boat, hand tight and let him stride lose on the lake. The next scenes are a series of short shots of the gang streak bank robberies along with a fast beat soundtrack and chase by the police. When the gang stop in a field to divide the robbed cash, Blanche also asks for her share that despite Bonnie’s disagreement, Clyde agrees and pays her as well.
Bonnie after a while missing her mama, insists to Clyde paying a visit to her as she is old, may die soon and her not having a chance to see her again. Clyde who first refuses, is forced to agree when one morning after waking up on a field, not finding Bonnie and have to run around to find her and promise to take her to visit her mother. In a picnic on a Texan field where they all meet Mrs. Parker, her mama is worried about what they do and suggest to them keep running if they do not want to get caught and she kisses her daughter bye for the last time. In the next scene, Bonnie sad missing her mama as her only family is seen in tears in a motel curling up on Clyde’s knees, when the other three have gone grocery shopping.
In the grocery store a local notices C.W.Moss wearing guns and calls the sheriff’s office. At night when all in bed sleeping, the police raids on the gang and shootings from both sides start. In a heavy gunfight that follows, Buck gets shot on face, and soon dies. The gang manage to flee and sleep the night away in a field, while Buck in pain and suffering from his serious wound. In the morning they’re all surrounded by the police who take them off guard and start shooting at them. Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. Moss run away, leaving Buck who’s dead now with Blanche behind. The three remaining members of the gang again steal a car and continue on their fleeing journey. They are helped and offered food and drinks by a group Amish family by a lake, before leaving for C.W. Moss father’s house for shelter. The father provides them with treatment for their wounds, food and they rest overnight, but he is angry with his son from the start, seeing him with the gang and wearing a tattoo.
The Texan ranger who is at the head of the police force chasing the gang, forces Blanche, now in their custody to disclose Moss’ last name so to locate his place that is suspected the gang are hiding. C.W. Moss’s father has already contacted the cops and arranged for their massacre when the next day they go to the town grocery shopping, he asks his son on the night before not to go with them back in the car after finishing their errands. The son laughs at his dad as he believes Bonnie and Clyde are untouchables. The next day, Bonnie and Clyde after their shopping get in the car and when they do not see C.W.Moss around, Bonnie goes inside the store to call him. Clyde when notices a police car pools in, quickly calls Bonnie back into the car and they drive away while C.W. Moss watching them through the store’s window smiling that the couple got away again.
In the final scene on the road back home, the couple see C.W. Moss’s father on the roadside, stopping and asking their help for his pretended broken truck. In one of the most iconic and remembering cinematic landmark, Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed mercilessly by the relentless shots of many policemen hiding behind the bushes. But before rolling in their blood, the couple pass on their last love looks on each other and the film ends.
“Bonnie and Clyde” did not just introduced an avant garde cinematic style to Hollywood in its genre of gangster film that was adapted many times in later years, but also surprised the viewers and critics for its graphically depiction of bloodshed on the screen that until then was a rarity in Hollywood. This great modern classic that became a box office hit as well, was not promoted by Warner’s Brother for general release due to their lack of support of such a gangster film, but upon insistence and threat of Beatty as the producer to sue the company, they released across the states after a while. The instrumental banjo piece by Flatt and Scruggs that was also introduced in the film added to the overall fast tempo of the film acoustically.
The film that was controversial on its original release for glorification of gangsters and bank robbers, and its graphic violence, since received well by the general public worldwide, pushed the critics to welcome it as well. Bosley Crowther from The New York Times was so appalled by the film that he started to campaign against its brutality, but he was fired by the paper for his being so much out of reality. David Kaufman of Variety criticized the film for its uneven direction and Bonnie and Clyde being bumbling fools. Joe Morgenstern who first critiqued the film negatively, after seeing the audience enthusiastic reaction, changed his mind and admitted to his initial misjudgment, that Warner Brothers took advantage of this effect of the film on changing critics’ opinions for promotion.
In closing remarks “Bonnie and Clyde” one more time will be redefined based on the following criteria:
- Originality: “Bonnie and Clyde” is original in its introduction of it avant garde new style of gangster films in America that became a prototype afterwards. The fast beat of the film, its fast jump editing, music score and cinematography all were original for an American film for the time.
- Technicality: The technicality of “Bonnie and Clyde” is in its filmography, cinematography, superb script, matching direction, its fast tempo music score, and its brilliant performances of all five members of the gang that brought them all to fame.
- Impact Factor: The influence of “Bonnie and Clyde” has been on many films and filmmakers of the later years that it became a cinematic landmark for its own genre in Hollywood. More importantly and in fact while it has been and still is objection subject of some, the film glorified Bonnie and Clyde out of the dungeon of history to the modern museums of important historical characters.
- Survival: “Bonnie and Clyde” has survived well to this very day for its influence, its freshness being still a delight to watch.
“Like our voices that sing ba da ba da…our hearts see..like a chance, like a hope..everything starts again, the life starts again..how much joy..many dramas..it’s a long history..a man and a woman have forged the frame of chance like us..one more time we fill our hearts with joy and we make the choice in our romance and chance for you and me.” This is the lyrics of the popular song of the film, “A Man and a Woman” by the French filmmaker, Claude Lelouch that since its release has been as great and memorable as the film by the French composer, Francis Lai that adds to the melodramatic flavor of the story.
“You and I, we live in the city, Our hearts for so long, so long, know the rhythm of the streets, amid all these glances, that cross and slip away ours, by chance, stop being unknown. Today it’s you, Today it’s me Today love has taken us in hand. And too bad if it’s going too fast because love is inviting us to live with abandon whatever awaits.” is another song of the film, “Aujourd’hui c’est toi” (Today It’s You). The film has a few other romantic songs that adds to its heartwarming feelings, such as “Plus fort que nous” (Stronger Than Us); “A l’ombre de nous” (In Our Shadow); and “A 200 a l’heure” (200 Km Miles An Hour) that all are the part of the acoustic beauty of the film adding to its great visual and sensational magic.
As a Jew hiding in movie theatres by his mother to escape the prosecution by Gestapo, Claude Lelouch became interested in cinema, so when his father bought him a camera, he started filming around like “a man with a movie camera”. His first film in 1960, “Le Propre de l’homme” threw off the “Cahiers du cinema” who wrote “Claude Lelouch, remember this name well, because you will not hear it again”! His next film, “La femme spectacle” followed prostitutes, women shopping, fixing their noses, etc. was censored for its content. It was not until “A Man and a Woman” that Claude Lelouch wrote and directed that changed his fate in filmmaking.
A Classic Love Story:
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In the history of cinema and in the love for this medium and creativity nobody stands above Ingmar Bergman, except perhaps Charles Chaplin, though Bergman has even superseded this legend of cinema in productivity and variety. While many great filmmakers before him followed one line of work or stuck in the same style, subject or ideology, e.g. John Ford in westerns, Kurosawa in samurai, and Chaplin in his tramp, Bergman followed variety not just in films, but in the theatre and radio. His early fixation with religious/existential topics and the question of God in relation to humans, affected by his religious upbringing under his father as a Lutheran minister, soon changed to addressing earthy and daily life humans’ issues. This matured and flourished in content and techniques to an optimum level beyond his previous works, even his earlier masterpieces in “Persona”.
Bergman: A Cinematic Icon
Bergman started career in film, at age 24 in 1944 writing the script for and assisted in directing the film “Torment” with Alf Sjoberg that brought him a success, so to begin his own filmmaking. For the next 10 years, Bergman experimented on several films until in 1955, the “Smiles of a Summer Night” that was recognized worldwide and nominated for Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then this iconic filmmaker had been so productive, creating some years more than one film, such as in 1957 when he made two masterpieces, “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries”, both won numerous awards across the globe and are in the list of the greatest films of all time here and elsewhere. Bergman’s fixation with the religious and God subjects continued into 1960’s with other great films such as the trilogy of “Through a Glass Darkly”, “Winter Lights”, and “Silence”, though the last one started taking off to the more earthy human’s issues and was hailed and critiqued for its sexual content. It was not until “Persona” that Bergman really flourished and showed his talent in filmmaking not limited to existential matters, but he is a master of analyzing the human’s psyche as he did somewhat before in the “Wild Strawberries”.
Persona: A Personal Exploration of the Psyche and Mind
In an interview and explanation about the film, Bergman has mentioned the prompt to make the film was an experience of split or space out in his mind, cognition, or feeling of non-existence that he had briefly while in hospital due to a sickness before the film. It is futile often to ask explanation of a masterpiece from any creators in any art formats and Bergman is not an exception as the film explores more the psyche of two women, a nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) and an actress patient Elisabet Volger (Liv Ullmann) who could be and in fact the duality of one person.
The film’s Opening scene is one of the most unusual though chilling, beautiful and thoughtful visual short cut shots that have ever been imposed on the silver screen. A series of film reel shots are followed by a black spider (in Bergman’s vocabulary meaning God or the monster side of God) then a hand crucifixion, and killing a lamb (silencing) before the shot of a young boy wakes up in a hospital bed or morgue. The boy sees a large screen with blurry images of two women, Alma and Elisabet that he tries to feel them by touch of his hands. The title credits after is intercepted with flashing images of these two women. In the next scene, the sister nurse Alma enters the master nurse office where she is offered a new task of nursing a famous stage actress, Elisabet who has gone silent or mute recently.
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In the mid 1960’s when Italian and French Avant Garde cinema falls too deep in the crack of self-absorbent intellectualism with Antonioni following Godard-type film of “Blow Up” in 1966 and Godard making another failed cinematic experiment with “Pierrot le fou”, a novel masterpiece comes out of England. Richard Lester an American living in England hands on film experiment late in his life for the first time at age 27 with a sketch comedy short film “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” in 1959co-directed with Peter Sellers. He goes back to the basic and moving pictures that was silent films and experiments and learns it as it started. This 11 minutes short film experiment attracts the Beatles at the time who hired Lester to direct their film “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 and after “The Knack…and how to get it” (“The Knack” for short from now on in this article), their second musical film “Help” in the same year of 1965.
Lester innovates and introduces a comedy/farce film style with “The Knack” that will be adapted by most British and American comedy filmmaker in later years. After making a few other alike, e.g. “A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum” in 1966 and “How I won the war” starring John Lennon in 1967, from early 70’s he turns into adventure film making “The Three Musketeers” in 1973, “Juggernaut” and “The Four Musketeers” in 1974 until in early 80’s when he gets into making “Superman II” in 1980, later “Superman III” in 1983, then back to “The Return of Musketeers” in 1989, before his final film, a return to the Beatles with “Get Back” in 1991 filming Paul McCartney’s concert tour of 1989-1990.
Knack and how to invent it
The film is itself a “Knack”, a skill and talent that Lester showed to own it in many of his films from the two films made for the Beatles to a few other innovative comedy like “The Knack” to his later adventure and other genre films. In “The Knack” the avant garde cinema of Godard and Antonioni is mixed well with art of silent filmography, Russian-style camera work, cinematography and editing to create an innovative intellectual farce comedy. Hope and fantasy in exaggeration all the way in between the hours of reality in daily life is depicted from the start to finish. Colin (Michael Crawfors), a bachelor clumsy in the art of attracting women, in jealousy of his friend and housemate, Tolen (Ray Brooks) a womanizer, daydreams in his imagination, a line full of young girls waiting on their staircase for what seems to be fashion models audition to be tempted and used by Tolen upstairs, while he is in despair of having only one.
The film starts with a slab comedy style of silent era like Chaplin’s in the above opening scene and later with the scenes of the people rushing down off a bus , picking up their newspapers and digest books, while Nancy (Rita Tushingham), a young woman off the bus trying to put her luggage in a locker and closes it in the bus station, but the locker’s door keeps opening. This style of farce slab comedy continues when Nancy takes self portrait photos in a photo booth, when another woman with her man getting in and starts undressing behind the curtain and passing on her clothes including her undergarments piece by piece to the man and taking nude photos.
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Finally Federico Fellini after his efforts in the 1950’s on neo-realism with films such as “La Strada”, and partly realistic, partly intellectual, and partly Avant Garde “La Dolce Vita”, and reading Carl Gustav Jung’s collective psychology and experimenting LSD, he creates the “8 ½”. The title of the film refers to its being Fellini’s eighth and a half film as a director, with previous six features, two shorts, and a collaboration with another director, Alberto Lattuada, as a “half” film. A surrealistic, symbolic, satirical drama-comedy of real life mixed with dreams and imaginations, “8 1/2”, is a film that marks Fellini not as a great filmmaker, but brings out a style in cinema that’s totally Fellini’s. Borrowed from other previous surrealistic works on the screen such as Luis Bunuel’s, and symbolic and allegorical films of Bergman (Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries), and intellectual neorealism of Antonioni (L’Avventura), adding Jungian’s cultural psychology, Fellini creates a style of his own in “8 ½”.
Opening with a dream scene, the protagonist, a film director, Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) stuck in a traffic jam, choked by the smoke in his car and unable to get out, while watched indifferently by other commuters, the film introduces its exaggerated critical symbolism. When wakes up, he looks sick in a huge medical spa, examined by a doctor, while his film assistants all around him. The remedy prescribed by the physician, “spring water and mud bath, and suspension of all the treatments after a week for two days”, soon injects the comic feature of the film. Then walking in a spring water park, he is browsed and looked by others, mostly women oddly. Walking to get his spring water in a glass like others, when the water is offered to them from a fountain tab, is a scene of comic ridicule.
Guido who is stiffed in his creativity and does not yet have a script, and jumps from his dreams to illusion, allusion and in between to his real life, goes to the train station to pick up his mistress, Clara (Sandra Milo). Both married but in an affair, she bringing five suitcases with her and expecting to have party all the time, is faced with Guido’s cool and spaced out mind and attitude. In the evening at the hotel room, he demands her to put on heavy make up and act like a whore, go out in the hallway and come back to him in bed. Again while in sleep on the hotel bed, and his mistress up and reading, he dreams of his deceased parents. His father does not seem happy with him who’s failed in life, and farewells him while he goes down back to the grave.
The real life scenes mixed up with Guido’s night and day dreams are often hard to tease apart. Soon in the film studio, he is flooded by questions of his associates in an exaggerated manner. Then in the evening, there is La Dolce Vita’s type party, when at a table the director is questioned about the connection between communism and Catholicism and if Italy is a catholic country. Here the intellectual food for the thought is added to the surrealistic and symbolic comedy-drama of the film. On the stage there is a telepath who with an old lady assistant, they read the party people’s minds. After reading a few others, they read Guido’s mind of thinking the mysterious “Asa Nisi Masa” word that takes us to his early childhood to discover its meaning. Living with his siblings, all taking bath in a huge tall barrel of water, attended by their unhappy and brawling grandmother. When all in bed, the siblings say the magic words “Asa Nisi Masa” to have a man on the picture in the bedroom, to move his eyes and shows where the treasure is.
The film is somewhat autobiographical and reflection of own Fellini’s struggle to find his style of filmography. Throughout the film, he confesses of hard search for such a style to reveal the hidden façade of life at least of Petite-bourgeoisies’ with symbols, allegory and dreams mixed in real life situations in an exaggerated, mocking and comic style. A novel and innovative existentialist as well Avant Garde, Fellini stays away from too much intellectually meaningless show offs like some other Avant Garde’s works in Europe at the time. In the film, Fellini critics such Avant Garde works through the comment of his hired film critic, Carini (Jean Rougeul) who comments on his ideas for the film as being “intellectually weak, spineless and confusing”.
Keeps going back to his dreams, visions and introspections, he sees none of the females characters in his real life relationships and his actresses as ideal, but an unnatural young beautiful woman, Claudia (Claudia Cardinale) who keeps appearing to him in his daydreams at times. In the search of purity, beauty and spontaneity in his personal life and work, he sees Claudia such a symbol. In other words, now more mature and thoughtful, Fellini in “8 ½” cannot imagine the real life we’re living in without its spices of symbolism through the dreams, daydreaming, illusions and allusions. Therefore he is not only surrealist, existentialist, neorealist, Avant Garde, or intellectual, but perhaps a mish mash of all! Through Claudia, he is into “creating order and cleanliness”, but he fails as he creates confusion, and ponders it would be better after all going to the village museum and find “all beauty of the classic arts”!
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The 76th Golden Globe awards were presented on January 6, 2019. The list of nominees and winners in major categories are listed in the following. Unfortunately last year of 2018 as in recent years had not produced any great films, even worse than last year as it has at least one great film, “The Shape of Water”. Until the Oscar awards presentations on , since it is usually influenced by the winners of Golden Globe, two films here will be briefly discussed. One a good one, “Roma” a foreign film (Mexican) by that was the best film of last year and beat all Hollywood productions, but yet not great. The second film that will be reviewed briefly here as an example of bad film that Hollywood keeps producing, “First Man” perhaps to learn a lesson, stop such foolish productions.
The following list of nominees by Golden Globe in major cinematic (not television) categories are marked as no star (Bad), one star (below average), two stars (average), three stars (good) three and a half stars (very good) and four stars (Great) (Last year only for Capernaum from Lebanon), out of five stars that only belong to the greatest films of all time.
Bohemian Rhapsody* (Winner)
If Beale Street Could Talk*
A Star Is Born*
Best Pictur-Musical or Comedy:
Crazy Rich Asians**
Mary Poppins Returns*
Rami Malek* for Bohemian Rhapsody (Winner)
Bradley Cooper* for A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe** for At Eternity’s Gate
Lucas Hedges** for Boy Erased**
John David Washington* for BlacKkKlansman
Glen Close* for The Wife*(Winner)
Lady Gaga* for A Star Is Born
Nicole Kidman* for Destroyer*
Melissa McCarthy** for Can You Forgive Me**
Rosamund Pike*** for A Private War
Best Actor-Musical or Comedy:
Christian Bale** for Vice (Winner)
Lin-Manuel Miranda* for Mary Poppins Returns
Viggo Mortensen** for Green Book
Robert Redford* for The Old Man and the Gun*
Jack C. Reilly** for Stan & Ollie**
Best Actress- Musical or Comedy:
Olivia Coleman* for The Favourite (Winner)
Emily Blunt* for Mary Poppins Returns
Charlize Theron* for Tully*
Constance Wu* for Crazy Rich Asians*
Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma (Winner)
Bradley Cooper* for A Star Is Born
Peter Farrelly** for Green Book
Spike Lee* for BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay** for Vice
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly** for Green Book (Winner)
Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara* for The Favourite
Barry Jenkins* for If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay** for Vice
Best Foreign Language Film:
Roma*** (Mexico, Alfonso Cuaron) (Winner)
Capernaum**** (Lebanon, Nadine Labaki)
Girl** (Belgium, Lukas Dhont)
Never Look Away***½ (Germany, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
Shoplifters** (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda)
The following list are the nominees for Oscar by the Academy Awards only in major categories, that will be presented on February 24, 2019. After the list that’s more or less the same as Golden Globe’s as usual with a few exceptions, a few suggestions of what and who deserves the awards and a few films of last year will be reviewed briefly.
91st Academy Award Nominees:
A Star Is Born*
Rami Malek* for Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper* for A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe** for At Eternity’s Gate
Viggo Mortensen** for Green Book
Christian Bale** for Vice
Glen Close* for The Wife*
Lady Gaga* for A Star Is Born
Nicole Kidman* for Destroyer*
Melissa McCarthy** for Can You Forgive Me**
Yalitza Aparicio** for Roma
Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma
Spike Lee* for BlacKkKlansman
Yorgos Lanthimos* for the Favourite
Spike Lee* for BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay** for Vice
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly** for Green Book
Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara* for The Favourite
Barry Jenkins* for If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay** for Vice
Cold War for Łukasz Żal***
Never Look Away for Caleb Deschanel***
Roma for Alfonso Cuaron**
A Star is Born for Maththew Libatique
Best Foreign Language Film:
Roma*** (Mexico, Alfonso Cuaron)
Capernaum**** (Lebanon, Nadine Labaki)
Never Look Away***1/2 (Germany, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
Shoplifters** (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda)
The best picture, directing, cinematography, editing and male acting that on this site goes to “Capernaum” and its maker, Nadine Balaki and its actor Zain Al Rafeea have not been nominated by the Oscar, but only in the foreign film category that hope at least to win that one. The best female acting by Rosamund Pike for “A Private War” is neither nominated. In the following, first a bad example of a film of last year, “First Man”, then the major winner of Golden Globe, “Roma”, then a very good film of last year “Never Look Away” and finally the Great film of 2018, “Capernaum” will be reviewed briefly.
“Roma” of Alfonso Curaon is a good and beautiful film, depicting the ordinary moments of life with its love, family, bonding values and above all a tale of interconnection and sacrifice, that is a recollection of the director’s own childhood. In black and white cinematography, the film due to its slowness (often like the opening scene) with no reason, and lingering for 135 minutes still cannot impress as a great film, specially when compared to another this year’s nominees “Never Look Away” by Florian Henckel von and Donnersmarck from Germany, and the great film of Nadine Labaki “Capernaum” from Lebanon that will both be reviewed briefly here. But before that, an example of bad films that Hollywood keeps producing, the “First Man” of Damien Chazelle will be briefly discussed.
“Frist Man”: A Bad Example of Recent Hollywood Filmmaking
“First Man” by Damien Shazel is a bad film from the start to finish with mostly being filmed in studio. Such an important historical subject and mostly so for the Americans, the first launch and landing of man on the moon, that should have been filmed mostly outdoors, specially the space parts has been all done indoors and in the studios. This has been done either to lower the cost and still having a big profit, so cheating on the viewers, or the director has not been able to do more than that, which could be probably both.
The film from the start that shows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) riding an airplane in 1960 is shot indoor with the shakes and rattles of the airplane and the pilot. Moreover in this scene and throughout the film t times, there are jump cuts and even jerking one shot to the other, even when there are no airplane or spaceship riding and launching at times. This has been either bad editing by or it has been the choice of the director. Neil Armstrong and his wife who had lost their first daughter at the young age of on this screen is totally emotionless depicted by both, which perhaps has been the director’s choice as this lack of emotions by both ran throughout the movie, for example when Neil is chosen to fly to the space and later on to the moon, and at the end when in quarantine after return from the moon, visited by his wife.
The film bad editing or jump cuts are not limited to shots, but to scenes such as a jump in the storyline from the flight of Gemini 8 stranded in the atmosphere unable to return to earth suddenly to a press conference on the subject questioning the pilots and NASA. When there are rarely good shots such as Neil and walking in the moonlight, that was quite picturesque, talking before his Appollo 1 launch, the faces are off focus. There are also defects in the storyline that could be from the novel, for example at the time of the test of Appollo 1 and its disaster of killing the three astronauts including, Neil’s friend, he is at a dinner in the White House. Again after hearing the sad news of his colleagues and friends deaths, no emotional reaction by Neil, only breaking a wine glass in his hands. When Neil fails and is injured with cut and blood on his face from failing the landing on the moon exercise on earth, his wound is not treated at NASA and he goes home to his wife with bloody face that seems to be unreal in real life.
The fear of communism and their advance in every directions including the hegemony in space, that makes the US government and NASA in 1960s to race with them in space and landing on the moon is not well addressed in the film either. More so the public protest on the space race and the government’s overspending was marginally depicted in the film. An almost two and a half hours slow and boring film to show the events of the time, that is all focused on one man, Neil Armstron, close to the end perhaps realizing the length of film by the director, suddenly jumps from Appollo 1 to Appollo 11 and launch to the moon. Perhaps not seeing even any recent more beautiful similar space launch films such as Appollo 13 by, Intertsellar by and Martian by , Shazel avoids outdoor space shooting even on the center topic of the film, the launch and landing on the moon. When Neil finally steps on the moon, he walks easily with full gravity like on earth, that is a major flaw of the film then after a few minutes walks with bouncing up and down free of gravity on the moon.
Finally such a historical moment when the shuttle lands on the moon and even when the “first man” steps on the moon, that is the title of the film, there are no reaction or showing of such at the NASA, and in the public that have been huge in real life at the time.
Never Look Away (Germany)(3 ½ *):
“Don’t look away Kurt. Everything true is beautiful” that’s what his aunt, Elisabeth (Saskia Rosendahl) when naked sitting on playing piano, told the five years old Kurt (Cai Cohrs) when he enters the room, and afterwards she starts hitting her head with a glass to the point of bleeding and will be taken away soon to a mental hospital during the Nazi’s era. Kurt as a young man (Tom Barnert) carries the advice in his mind throughout his life as an inspirational and fighting for freedom artist, trying to create beauty in his paintings. Obliged to paint at the service of the people and proletaria in the Post-war East Germany where he is living with his family. Later on in an art school in Dresden, East Germany, Kurt meets and dates Ellie (Paula Beer) who later seeing his painting talent, encourages him to escape together to the West Germany where he could find more freedom in his art creation.
The film directed by Florian Henckel von and Donnersmarck has a beautiful script written as well by both, carries on an eye catching cinematography by Caleb Deschanel with excellent editing of Patricia Rommel, is completed by an exceptional casting and an unforgettable and complementing music score of Max Richter. The film is great for its portray of love, searching for expression of freedom and beauty in an art format, in a background of inhumanity of war (WWII), crimes (of Nazis and Ellie’s father as a Nazi eugenics who also arranged to put away Kurt’s aunt as a psychotic to a mental asylum and order to kill later on), love, and humanity. All these are shown beautifully on the silver screen as it should be so to be hailed by Variety as “A epic, intergenerational tale of art, love, tragedy and politics” and by The Hollywood Reporter “A marvel luminous cinematography. The score is lusterous and warm”, and by Roger Friedman in showbiz “A stunning masterpiece. One of the best movies, I’ve ever seen in my life”.
Capernaum****: The Great Picture of the Year:
Finally a great movie in 2018, though not from Hollywood, but in the category of foreign film from Lebanon. Already the winner of the best picture in many film festivals around world such as the Calgary International, Cannes, FICFA, Film Fest Gent, Hamptons, International Antalya, Leeds International, London, Melbourne, Mill Valley, Miami International, Norwegian International, San Sebastian, Sao Paulo International, Sarajevo, St. Louis International, Stockholm International, Toronto, Zurich and more pending film festivals, in fact this film is testing the Academy Awards this year if it fails in recognition of a great film like her sister Golden Globe. The third feature film of Nadine Balaki, an actor-director with no training in filmmaking aboard, but all at home, is a modern “The Bicycle Thieves”. With no professional actors, the cast led by a young boy of 12 years old Syrian refugee who from the danger of loss of life, poverty and hunger gets to fame overnight by the film. Appreciating the art of filmmaking, still precious as an art format, not centering on the story plot, politics or trend of time, the film is a visual beauty and celebration of moving picture as it should be and came to existence.
So for the real lovers of the art film, “Prepare to be blown away” Emily Yashida of “Vulture” described it in surprise. The young boy Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), a product of poverty and war to this world, while gentle and compassionate to his own kind and age, rebels against those who brought him to world, including his parents. When asked his age in the court by a judge, he says “I don’t know, ask them!”, pointing to his parents, and when questioned “Why are you attacking your parents?”, he answers “For giving me life”! Representing the poor children of the war zones, the victims of our greed and conflicts, Zain is the voice of them all that are never heard, at least on this side of plentiful world. “A Stunning Piece of Cinema” as Pete Hammond of “Deadline” hailed it, the film while awakens us, mesmerizes the audience with its magic visionary.
While like “The Bicycle Thieves” is a modern neorealism, Balaki incorporates whatever the camera without any fake digital effect could do, a reminiscent of the Russian masters of cinema, long lost into oblivion. “A Filmmaking Miracle that Boggles the Mind” as described by Ben Croll of “The Wrap” is a good lesson of camera work, and cinematography, plus the intelligent application of score to complement our sensual pleasure and mental awakening. Exceptionally achieved in camera in different angles, set and location design, not just with the physical surroundings that is the best to see the war stricken Lebanon, but more with the human milieu. While a heartbreaking drama, the film has its heart lightening moments too such as when Zain, opens up the breasts part of the huge female statue while the cleaning black lady laughs. In fact “Nadine Balaki has made a Knockout” as Alex Billington of “First Showing” commented on.
Overwhelming emotional, the film reaches humans’ hearts and souls and interconnects them even in a war torn zone, so to be hailed as “The Film attains a Real Emotional Sweep” by Caspar Salmon of “Sight & Sound”. When asked by the judge “What do you want from your parents?”, Zain responds “I want them to stop having children”! This is the voice of many children in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war devastated precious pieces of our earth that has to be recognized. Zain and the film may make put us in shame, guilt and sorrow, but it was not meant that way, but a call to awaken our souls, hearts and minds of thinking that at the moments of our comfort, happiness in the land of plenty, there are sad and inhumane life conditions elsewhere.
When it was thought that all had already been done in cinema with the innovative and great works of Eisenstein, Vertov, Rossellini, De Sica, Kurosawa, Kalatazov, Bergman and Antonioni, and nothing more to create, it comes another great filmmaker from Russia, Andrei Tarkovsky with his masterpiece “Ivan’s Childhood”. Surprisingly at age 28 his debut film stirred up not just emotions and awakenings around the globe, but vast discussions in the realm of philosophy, sociology and history that did not spare the great French philosopher and writer, Jean Paul Sartre to write a detailed letter to the editor of the Italian newspaper “L’Unita” in response to some critics of the film, that was an article. The film impressed the great Ingmar Bergman, the most prolific filmmakers of all time (even more than Chaplin) that he wrote: “My discovery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease.”
This great anti-war film, depicting heroism at the depth of loss and casualties of war with hatred and self-sacrifice was adapted from the short story of “Ivan” by Vladimir Bogomolov of 1957. Tarkovsky, the mastermind of the film who collaborated in the screenplay (but uncredited) with the author and Mikhail Papava. The great cinematographic work of Vadim Yusov who later on collaborated with Tarkovsky in his other films, perfected with the music score of the talented composer Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov who began composing from ager 9, depicted the horror and hatred of the war from an orphan child’s perspective who had lost all that he had by German Nazis.
“Ivan’s Childhood” is such a visual or cinematic masterpiece that has to be detailed more than usual, though it could be discussed and taught frame by frame, but here a concise of what is minimum necessity will be discussed. At the end and before the conclusion, Jean Paul Sartre’s letter or article about the film will be first presented here in its almost totality with a brief review and discussion over it. The article from the great French and existentialist philosopher and writer of our modern time is important as he critiqued Orson Wells’ “Citizen Kane” negatively, despite being considered by many including AFI as the best American film of all time or one the top films internationally in many lists.
A Cinematic Craft to perfection
The film right away without any titles, opens with magic surprise, the face and the look of a young boy, Ivan in a woods, with zoom focus on his face and eyes, then on the detail of the pine tree, moving up all the way, leaving the boy down in the background. The camera with a great fitting background score, examines and introduces the natural beauty of the surroundings, such as the look of a deer (like in the recent move of “Hannah”), then follows a butterfly flying around in the field, that the young Ivan follows with his eyes in joy and laughter. We see all these as we are present in the moment.
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