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 1981. 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.Franj) (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) (Japan)/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) (France)/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)
1970:Patton (Frankiln Schaffner) (USA)/Investigation of a citizen above suspicion (Elio Petri) (Italy)/Tristana (Luis Bunuel) (Spain/France/Italy)/The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci) (Italy/France)/Dodes’ka-den (Kurosawa) (Japan)/Love Story (Arthur Hiller) (USA)/MASH (Robert Altman) (USA)/The Wild Child (Truffaut) (France)/Little Big Man (Arthur Penn) (USA)/Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol) (France/Italy)/The Artistocats (Wolfgang Reitherman) (USA)/Ryan’s Daughter (David Lean) (England)/Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson) (USA)/Valerie and her week of wonders (Jaromil Jires) (Csechoslovakia) /Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville) (France)/Claire’s Knee (Eric Rohmer) (France)/The twelve chairs (Mel Brooks) (USA)/Airport (George Seaton) (USA) The Kremlin letter (John Huston) (USA)/The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (de Sica) (Italy)
1971:A Clockwork orange (Kubrick) (England/USA)/The French connection (William Friedkin) (USA)/Fiddler on the roof (Norman Jewison) (USA)/Straw dogs (Sam Peckinpah) (England/USA)/The go-between (Joseph Losey) (England/USA)/Death in Venice (Visconti) (Italy/France)/King Lear (Grigori Kozintsev) (Russia)/Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff) (Australia)/Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich) (USA)/Dirty Harry (Don Siegel) (USA)/Klute (Alan J. Pakula) (USA)/McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman) (USA)/Macbeth (Polanski) (USA/England)/A touch of Zen (King Hu) (China) Trafic (Jaque Tati) (France)/The Panic in the needle park (Jerry Schatzberg) (USA)/Johnny got his gun (Dalton Trumbo) (USA)/Nicholas and Alexandra (Franklin Schaftner) (England)/Bananas (Woody Allen) (USA)
1972:Fritz the cat (Ralph Bakshi) (USA)/The Godfather (F.Coppola) (USA)/The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie (Bunuel) (France /Spain/Italy)/Aguirre:The wrath of God (Werner Herzog) (West Germany)/Junior Bonner (Peckinpah) (USA)/Cabaret (Bobe Fosse) (USA)/Quiz Show (Robert Redford) (USA)/Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) (Italy/France)/Man of La Mancha (Arthur Hiller) (USA/Italy)/Roma (Fellini) (Italy)/The bitter tear of Petra von Kant (Fassbinder) (W.Germany)/Cries and Whispers (Bergman) (Sweden) Jeremiah Johnson (Sydney Pollack) (USA)/Deliverance (John Boorman) (USA)/Slaughterhouse-Five (George Roy Hill) (USA)/Frenzy (Hitchcock) (USA)/Everything you always wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to ask (Woody Allen) (USA)/State of Siege (C.Gavras) (France)
1973:The spirit of the beehive (Victor Erice) (Spain)/The Sting (George Roy Hill) (USA)/Day for night (Francois Truffaut) (France) Badlands (Terrence Malick) (USA)/Don’t look now (Nicolas Roeg) (England/Italy)/The exorcist (William Friedkin) (USA)/Papillion (Frankiln Schaffner) ((USA/France)/We all loved each other so much (Etoore Scola) (Italy)/Amarcord (Fellini) (Italy)/American Graffiti (George Lucas) (USA)/Mean Streets (Scorsese) (USA)/Scenes from a Marriage (Bergman) (Sweden)/Paper Moon (Bogdanovich) (USA)/Save the Tiger (John Avlidsen) (USA)/Serpico (Sydney Lumet) (USA)/Immoral Tales (Walerian Borowczyk) (France)/Sleeper (Woody Allen) (USA)/The way we were (Sydney Pollack) (USA)
1974:Chinatown (Polanski) (USA)/The conversation (Francis Ford Coppola) (USA)/Scent of a woman (Dino Risi) (Italy)/Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks) (USA)/The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (Werner Herzog) (W.Germany)/Young Frankestein (Mel Brooks) (USA)/Ali: Fear eats the soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) (W.Germany)/The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton) (USA)/Celine and Julie go boating (Jacques Rivette) (France)/The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent) (USA)/The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin) (USA)/The Godfather Part II (F.Coppola) (USA)/The Yakuza (S.Pollack) (USA/Japan)/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper) (USA)/Murder on the Orient Express (S.Lumet) (USA/England)/Alice doesn’t live here anymore (Scorsese) (USA)/The Night Porter (Liliana Cavani) (Italy/USA)/The Phantom of Liberty (Bunuel) (France/Italy)/Arabian Nights (Pasolini) (Italy)/Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah) (USA)
1975:Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam/Terry Jones) (England)/Jaws (Spielberg) (USA)/One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest (Milos Forman) (USA)/Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) (England/USA)/Dog day afternoon (Sidney Lumet) (USA)/Dersu Uzala (Kurosawa) (Japan/Russia)/The story of Adele H (Truffaut) (France)/Mirror (Andrei Tarkovski) (Russia)/The lost honour of Katharina Blum (Volker Schlondorff/Margarethe von Trotta) (W.Germany)/Jeanne Dileman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman) (Belgium/France)/Grey gardens (Albert Maysles/David Maysles) (USA)/The battle of Chile Part I (Patricio Guzman) (Chile) Nashville (R.Altman) (USA)/The Magic Flute (Bergman) (Sweden) The Messiah (Rossellini)(Italy/France)/Shampoo (W. Beatty) (USA) The Passenger (Antonioni) (Italy/Spain/France)/The man who would be King (J. Huston)(USA/England)
1976:Taxi driver (Scorsese) (USA)/Rocky (John Avildsen) (USA)/All the President’s Men (Alan J.Pakula) (USA)/Network (S.Lumet) (USA)/Black and white in color (Jean Jacques Annaud) (France)/ Seven beauties (Lina Wertmuller) (Italy)/Harlan county USA (Barbara Kopple) (USA)/In the realm of the senses (Nagisa Oshima) (Japan)/The Tenant (Polanski) (France)/The Omen (Richard Donner) (England/USA)/Marathon Man (John Schlesinger) (USA)/1900 (Bertolucci) (Italy)/Fellini’s Casanova (Italy)
1977:Star Wars: Episode IV- A new hope (George Lucas) (USA)/Padre Pardone (Paolo/Vittorio Taviani) (Italy)/Annie Hall (W.Allen) (USA)/The Wishing Tree (Tengiz Abuladze) (Georgia)/Julia (Fred Zinnemann) (USA)/Office romance (Eldar Ryazanov) (Russia)/Madame Rosa (Moshe Mirzahi) (France)/Stroszek (Werner Herzog) Germany)/The obscure object of desire (Bunuel) (France/Spain)/House (Nobuhiko Obayashi) (Japan)/Cross of iron (Peckinpah) (USA)/Saturday night fever (John Badham) (USA)/Close encounters of the third kind (Steven Spielberg) (USA)/High Anxiety (Mel Brooks) (USA)/New York, New York (Scorsese) (USA)
1978:The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino) (USA)/Get out your handkerchiefs (Bertrand Blier) (France)/Moliere (Ariane Mnouchkine) (France)/Grease (Randal Kleiser) (USA)/Autumn Sonata (Bergman) (Sweden/Germany)/The tree of wooden clogs (Ermanno Olmi) (Italy)/Superman (Richard Donner) (USA)/The Lord of the Rings (Raplh Bakhshi)(USA/England)/Heaven can wait (Warren Beatty) (USA)/Desiderium (Sooteh-Delan) (Iran)/The Inglorious Bastards (Enzo Castellari) (Italy)/Les Miserables (Glen Jordan) (England)/The Boys from Brazil (Franklin Schaffner) (USA)/Coming Home (Hal Ashby) (USA)
1979:Alien (Ridley Scott) (USA)/Apocalypse now (Coppola) (USA)/Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton) (USA)/The tin drum (Volker Schlondroff) (Germany/Yugoslavia/Poland/France)/Stalker (Tarkovsky) (Russia)/And justice for all (Norman Jewison) (USA)/The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) (Germany)/Laura (David Hamilton) (France)/Manhattan (W.Allen) (USA)/Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones)(England)/Caligula (Tinto Brass) (USA/Italy)/All that jazz (Bob Fosse) (USA)/Being there (Hal Ashby) (USA)/The Rose (Mark Rydell) (USA)/Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Robert Wise) (USA)/Tess (Roman Polanski) (France/England)/La Luna (Bertolucci) (Italy)/The China Syndrome (James Bridges) (USA)/Wise Blood (John Huston)
1980:The Shinning (Kubrick) (USA/England)/Airplane (Jim Abrahams/ David & Jerry Zucker) (USA)/Raging Bull (Scorsese) (USA)/Ordinary people (R.Redford) (USA)/Coal’s miner daughter (Michael Apted) (USA)/Moscow does not believe in tears (Vladimir Menshov) (Russia)/Kagemusha (Kurosawa) (Japan)/The last metro (Truffaut) (France)/Mon oncle d’Amerique (Alain Resnais) (France)/Atlantic City (Louis Malle) (France/Canada)/The Blues Brothers (John Landis) (USA)/American gigolo (Paul Schrader) (USA)/Health (Robert Altman) (USA)/Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino) (USA)/Star Wars : The Empire strikes back (Lucas) (USA)/The Elephant Man (David Lynch) (USA/ England)/Stardust Memories (W.Allen) (USA)
1981:Das Boot (Wolfgang Peterson) (Germany)/Chariots of fire (Hugh Hudson) (England)/Reds (W.Beatty) (USA)/Coup de Trochon (Bernard Tavernier) (France)/Indiana Jones: Raiders of the lost Ark (Spielberg) (USA)/Escape from New York (John Carpenter) (USA)/Mephisto (Istvan Szabo) (Hungry)/Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan) (USA)/The postman always rings twice (Bob Rafelson) (USA)/History of the World Part I (M.Brooks) (USA)/Escape to Victory (J.Huston) (USA)/Man of iron (Andrzej Wajda) (Poland)/On Golden Pond (Mark Rydell) (USA)/The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Karel Reisz) (England)/The Bunker (George Schaefer) (USA)/Blow out (Brian De Palma) (USA)/Absence of Malice (Sydney Pollack) (USA)
The Vietnam war that after the loss and destruction of so many lives on both American and Vietnamese sides finally with the resistance of Vietnamese and the country wide protest of American people ended in 1975 left a great impact on American cinema in 70’s. This impact opposite to the casualties of the war was in fact positive and improved this nation’s cinema and elevated to another level. Such Hollywood films in 70’s surpassed any foreign films and for the first time several such anti-war films entered almost any greatest films of all time.
Francis Ford Coppola after sometime getting stuck in his Godfather part 1&2 and before concluding his trilogy, as a payback of his due to the wave against the Vietnam war, creates his masterpiece “Apocalypse Now”. Not just being politically and morally correct this time in paying back his artistic commitment, he shows his mature cinematic talent by the end of 1970 in this film. The film starts with a gripping cinematographic scene of the war, in contrast with the beautiful tropical natural environment that were all destroyed with no hesitation. After this opening scene, the film zooms on its main protagonist, captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) of the US special operation force in his room, already drunk and suffering from the depression, post-traumatic stress and madness of the war.
Then two army officers come in to his place, wash and clean him up and take him to a general of the American army. He is questioned if he knows colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), an American military hero who has gone mad somewhere in the jungle of Cambodia and has taken things and the command of many fellow soldiers and the locals in his own hands, acting like a demi-God. Captain Willard who does not know anything about Kurtz, is ordered to find his hideout location and terminates him, keeping the mission as a secret and as it never existed. Willard in disbelief of how the US army and its general could send him on such a mission to kill one of his own high ranked, highly achieved and decorated hero officers.
On an army boat accompanied by a few soldiers as associates who do not know much about the mission, Willard arrives at a village where is still bombarding and wiping out the whole village and civilians by the air struck. In the mist of the killing field there’s a church service by a minister and at night the squadron under the command of their narcissistic lieutenant Colonel William (Bill) Kilgore (Robert Duval) having a beach party. The next day on their way to mission destination and while helicopters continue with their rampage bombardments and killing spree, two American private ex-surfers with the encouragement of Colonel Bill surf the tropical waves.
Deep inside the jungle when a cook soldier goes mango picking, escorted by captain Willard, the small human figures of the two in contrast with the tropical trees and leaves is fascinating. Both alerted by a move and minute sound in the bushes, are shocked and frightened when a huge tiger jumps out and runs away fast before being shot. Willard on his way to Kurtz’ hideout in Cambodia, familiarizes himself with his file and the more he reads about him, the more he wonders and questions of his mission. He wonders why Kurtz who could easily be promoted to the rank of a general for all his excellent services, and return home has been hidden in the jungle.
The boat arrives at army outpost, where there’s a concert has been organized for the soldiers. A playboy helicopter with a male singer and three girl dancers get and perform for the large aroused and excited crowd of soldiers, who some finally get close to the girls out of sexual provocation and they climb up the helicopter and flay away. Later on continuing with their ride up the river, when the boat reaches the playboy helicopter who has landed for lack of fuel. Two of the soldiers offer the helicopter fuel for having sex with the show girls that is shown in a very erotic scene inside their helicopter. The girls look also in a loss of mind and semiconscious state during this sexual act. Continuing on their ride up the river, the group suspicious of a local fishing boat, stop them for search and out of fright, in crazy state of mind kill all the few passengers.
The boat reaches a French outpost where a group of French soldiers still live there inside the jungle for 70 years long before the American invasion. The group have a dinner the head of the French squadran, who lives in luxury house with his family, served by Vietnamese servants. In a discussion at the dinner table, the French family claims that Vietnam belongs to them and they worked hard to build it while there was nothing when they started 70 years ago. After the dinner, Willard who is attracted by the French wife smoke opium together lying on her bed then having sex.
Arriving at Kurtz’ hideout, they are attacked by the locals with spears and arrows while the soldiers from up above the whole place looking like a huge jungle fortress shooting aimlessly, and finally the driver of the boat is killed. Surrounded by a mix of American soldiers and local troop of Kurtz, including a photojournalist (Dennis Hopper), Willard is welcome. The whole place, an old temple in the Cambodian jungle, like a ghost island of horror is filled with dead bodies, cut off heads and surrounded by fully armed men is a perfect depiction of Apocalypse.
Willard is finally able to meet Kurtz, a bald man lying in a bed, seen in a half shade, telling him about the atrocities of the American army and that considering their crimes, he could not be judged. Willard while part of the time is thrown in pit jail and other times conversing or listening to Kurtz monologue, comments that he has not seen such a broken man in his life. Talking about horror, Kurtz tells him when in special forces how his comrades were able to torture and kill an old man with no feelings and no judgment, while he could not stop crying. He continues telling Willard that still he envy such men who could commit such crimes with no hesitation, guilt and judgment.
Willard lost himself within his soul and confused slowly realizes that Kurtz wanted more than him to be killed to end his pains. Finally in a memorable scene, Willard gets out of his jail pit, jumps in the water then comes out with his face painted like the locals with a large knife in his hand. While all Kurtz’ troop are busy in a sacrifice ceremony party, Willard attacks Kurtz and in two parallel scenes, Kurtz and the bowl are both slashed and cut into pieces, while Kurtz repeating his last word “horror, horror” before his final fall. Willard walking out with the bloody knife in his hands faces Kurtz’ troop who all now kneel to him as their new leader and all put down their arms. But Willard confused and lost, he leaves the jungle on the boat still hearing the voice of Kurtz repeating the word “horror, horror”.
Originally inspired by Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” novel, the film is totally different as the novel happens in Congo Africa in 19th century, while the film in Vietnam and in 1970’s. The film and the character of Kurtz in fact has been adapted from a real character in US Army in Vietnam and Laos, Tony Poe of CIA’s special activities division. Poe similarly a highly decorated officer has been reported to have used savage methods of waging war, dropping severed heads into the enemy-controlled villages as a psychological warfare, though this connection has been denied by Coppola. In any case the film that opened in US in August 1979, was premiered as a work in progress at the Cannes Film Festival in May and was awarded its most prestigious prize, Palm d’Or, twice for American films in three years (for Taxi Driver in 1976). More to its honor, this film has also been ranked by a critics poll in 2002 as the best film of the last 25 years, number 28 of the greatest American film in AFI’s first edition of 1998 and number 30 in its second edition of 2007. Surprisingly as often could be the case with Academy Awards, while nominated for 8 best awards, including best picture, best direction, it won only the awards for best sound and best cinematography by Vittorio Storaro.
In closing remarks “Apocalypse Now” one more time will be redefined based on the following criteria:
- Originality: “Apocalypse Now” is original in depiction of another madness resulting from the outrageous war in Vietnam. Unlike “Taxi Driver” and “The Deer Hunter” that shows two facets of the insanity caused by the war, this film shows the horror side of the war that in fact happened in reality in Vietnam, through the reports of many lost soldiers in the jungle of that country who were never found.
- Technicality: The technicality of “Apocalypse Now” is in its more mature direction of Francis Ford Coppola and its great cinematography unexpected at the time from an American film.
- Impact Factor: The influence of “Apocalypse Now” has been on the next generation of anti-war films so that some believe if America lost the war in Vietnam, American cinema with films such as “Apocalypse Now” has come out as the main winner.
- Survival: “Apocalypse Now” has survived well to this very day in its power of still showing and proving the horror of war unlike any other film.
“The Deer Hunter”, is a film that after being seen once, it will probably imprint on the mind, a nightmare forever with possible flashbacks to some. The film is the story of three Russian American steel workers from the small town of Clairton in Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh whose enrollment in the Vietnam war changed their lives and the lives of their whole small but close community forever. This anti-war film has had one of the highest impact on people’s and soldiers’ minds in detesting any war, particularly Vietnam’s that finally ended by the persuasion of American people as much as by the Vietnamese resistance.
The film’s greatness starts with a perfect script co-written and directed by Michael Cimino who was basically a new screen writer, started a few years before, but never achieved well before and after this film that was his major feature debut as a filmmaker. The film stars Robert De Niro as Michael (Mike), Christopher Walken as Nick, John Savage as Steven, John Cazale as Stan (Stosh), Meryl Streep as Linda, Nick’s girlfriend and others. The film is also significant for being the last role played by John Cazale who died shortly after this film from lung cancer. This great actor in six short years of his acting career in five great films received Academy Award nominations for all, The Godfather, The conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter.
A Nightmarish Anti-War Film:
The film opens with a real perspective scene of the small industrial town of Clairton, that is an example of many of such towns all across the United State. In this small poor community, with houses looking very basic and shack like, the residents mostly the steel factory workers after work every day gather at the local pub owns by their friend, John (George Dzunda) that is a reminder of the film “How Green was my Valley”. In fact the town that is located in a valley, despite the smoke of the factory and the hardship of the residents’ lives is green in their hearts, before the casualties of the war wither them. The Russian American residents of this small community are very close to each other like the way they were back in their original Russian village or town where they immigrated from.
The film after the introduction, starts with the wedding preparation of Steven who’s pulled out of the local bar after work, by her traditional mother with slabs to get ready for his wedding that’s on the same day. Within a Russian Orthodox wedding ceremony and party, with a large banner on the wall reading “serving God and the country with pride”, everyone is trying to forget momentarily the departure of three of them, Mike, Nick and Steven for the war in Vietnam in the next couple of days. A soldier walks into the wedding and sits at the bar and when Mike tells him that he and two of his friends are departing for Vietnam, he raises his drink and says “fuck it”. When Mike asks him how’s out there, he again responds “fuck it” with another shot of drink. In the wedding, Nick asks Linda to marry him that she agrees.
At the end of the wedding party, drunk Mike gets naked and runs after the bride and groom’s car who are leaving, outside in the cold. Nick also drunk runs after him and asks him to promise if anything happens to him in Vietnam, not to leave him behind. All drunk until the dawn and still drinking, as another farewell leave for a final deer hunting, their usual pastime. Back from hunting at night to John’s bar when he plays Chopin’s Nocturne at the piano without any words passing on, the sign of farewell is well seen in all their faces.
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Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and George Lucas’ first saga of “Star Wars” series that both released in 1977 introduced a new line of cinema of digital and special effects, specially to American cinema that changed cinema for ever. Although these two films were science fictions, the digital and special effects work in later years went beyond and into different contents and storylines of films. Science fictions has a long history and in modern time goes back in the literature to H.G.Welles and in cinema as early as 1918 and the Danish film “A Trip to Mars” by Holger-Madsen. While those science fiction novels and films of the past that were produced in abundance did not change cinema, Spielberg and Lucas’ works did by introducing the digital special effects that was ready by late 70’s to be applied to the films, though still in its infancy.
This new line of cinema did not only bring the digital special effects at the computer desks and in the studios and less on location filming and easier work for the directors, but also a series of storylines about supernatural heroes, villains, sixth sense and visions. Films such as Superman in the following year, then batman, antman, ironman and else infused beliefs in superpowers, fantasy and fables unlike not time before, taking the realism out of cinema to this very day in abundance. With the staggering box office sales of $775.4 million for the first Star Wars from a minute budget of $11 million and a less sales of $306.1 million for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” from a higher budget of $20 million, the new line of cinema dominated not the film market, but the minds of ordinary and young moviegoers.
To the contrary of the box office success of the new line of digital and special effects cinema and the accolades of critics, ranking “Star Wars” 13 and Spielberg’s later film “E.T” at 24 in AFI 100 greatest American films, the original “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” has no ranking. Also none of these new line of films have ever won any Academy Awards until in 2003, the third and last episode of “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” that won all 11 nomination awards including the best picture and best direction.
A New Line of Cinema: Special Effects & Fictions
As discussed above the new line of cinema created by Spielberg and Lucas not only added digital special effects to the films, but changed the storylines from realistic life stories to fable and fictions with extra-terrestrial lives, supernatural powers, visions and senses, heroes and villains. All these started in a big leap from Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But unlike Lucas’ Star Wars, then the future films of superman, batman and alike that had no much base in reality, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” of Spielberg like his “Jaws”, and later on “E.T.” are exaggerated reality tales. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is an exaggerated depiction of UFOs that for long have been claimed to have been viewed by some.
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Martin Scorsese while starting filmmaking almost at the same time as Francis Ford Coppola, as an Italian American, he is more interested in social studies of the American society and metropolitan cities specially New York City. His first major feature, “Mean Streets” was a fair study of Italian American real street mobs, unlike the organized crime fable of the Godfather of Coppola. In his second major work, Taxi Driver, he takes us within the story of a taxi driver to the streets of the city that never sleeps, as he had lived in, observed and experienced it.
Taxi Driver: Robin Hood of the City Nights
Travis (Robert De Niro) is an ex-marine who takes the job of taxi driving in the city as he cannot sleep like the big city itself, and perhaps to avoid his flashback nightmares of the war of Vietnam. The film like a documentary, take the viewers through the streets of New York City and the lives and behaviors of creatures of the night, the prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc. We see the filth, the mess and the crimes in the city through Travis’ eyes who’s disgusted with all and wishes to be totally cleaned up.
In all this jungle mess of filth, he spots only one pure beauty, Betsy (Cybil Shepherd) who works in the election office of senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris) who’s running for presidency. He falls in love with her right away, walks in her office with no hesitation and with persistence and charm takes her on a brief coffee break date. Naïve and depressed, a victim of the war and the big city, his only hobby to relax and kill time when not working is watching porn film in special theatres without being or acting as hypersexual. So on the second date, he takes Betsy to watch such porn films that throws her off right away, walks out and breaks up with him, who keeps saying “I don’t know better”. His persistent calling and delivering her flowers to mend their relationship all fail. Betsy’s rejection disappoints him and puts her in his mind like the rest of city people whom he detests.
Scorsese takes a brief part in the film as well when one night, he rides Travis’ taxi. When he tells Travis that he’s going to kill his wife and his lover with a 44 magnum to rip them apart, in his unspoken mind runs the idea of cleaning up the city off the filth that way. So soon he buys his guns and starts training himself back to shape to actualize what he has been wishing for long. When he meets a gun dealer, instead of one, he buys all his guns in two brief cases. Soon he finds his first target, when on night the teenage prostitute, Iris (Jodi Foster) tries to run away from his pimp and gets into his taxi, but the pimp, Charles “Sport” Rain (Harvey Keitel) pulls her out. He starts following Iris in the following nights to spot her pimp again. He finally find Sport and pays him to be with Iris. To the surprise of Iris, he has no intention of having sex with her, but wants to rescue the runaway teen from all that mess and send her back home to her parents. He takes her out on a breakfast date the next morning when he encourages her to quit all that as she deserves more than prostitution and let a druggy pimp run her life. He even offers her money to go back home, but later on Sport continues fooling her that he needs and loves her so to stay and go on with selling her body for him.
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Another great film from Sydney Lumet after his masterpieces of “12 Angry Men” of 1957, and “Dog Day Afternoon “ of 1975, comes a year later “Network “ in 1976. Like his other two great works that are explosive in content, discussion and arguments, this film is the ultimate of any outrageous film in exposing the capitalist system and its spokes agent, the television. As Lumet has believed himself that a movie should be beyond just entertainment, to enlighten and move audience, “Network” did more than any of his films and any others’ films to the point of shock and surprise. The film is a harsh critic of the capitalist system, lack of freedom of thoughts and speech, all brain washed in the American people’s mind by the media and on the top by television networks to this very day.
Lumet, a director actor who started off the Broadway, directed almost any great American and international actors from Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Strasberg, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loran, Marlon Brando, Joanne Woodward, Anna Magnani, Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Rod Steiger, Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, James mason, Walter Matthau, Simone Signoret, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, Omar Sharif, Anouk Aimee, Al Pacino, Anthony Perkins, Susan Sarandon, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Melanie Griffith, Jack Warden, Andy Garcia, Lena Olin, Richard Dreyfuss, George C. Scott, Glenn Close, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke, to name some. He pulled out of Peter Finch, a not very popular actor who acted on the screen since 1930’s, the best of his life career that unfortunately did not last due to his premature death just a year later in 1977.
Network: A Film that will never happen on screen again
Howard Beale (Peter Finch), a news reporter of the TV network UBS is fired after 25 years of hard work due to his lower rating. He has become an alcoholic and after getting the news of his career ending in two weeks, he tells his old friend and the head of the news department, Max Schumacher (William Holden) one evening when drinking together that he is going to kill himself right on his TV show. His friend doesn’t take him seriously, but when he announces his intention the next evening during his live show, that he is going to blow his head off right in front everyone in his show a week later, it shocks all in the studio. Beale is fired on the spot by the network, but Schumacher intervenes so him to have a dignified farewell, if he apologizes on live television. The next evening, Beale goes on live again and this time while he explains that the night before he was in a state of madness, in another rant, he describes his life and life in general being bullshit. This unexpected use of foul language and open criticism of the American life and television that has always been accommodating the system again enrages the network heads, including Frank Hackett (Robert Duval) who fires both Beale and Schumacher as well, for letting Howard go back on live TV.
Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), an eager but impersonal UBS producer from another department who is after making any show at any cost and already planning filming a communist guerrilla group in action of their bank robbery and terrorist attacks, notices Beale’s photos on the front page of any newspapers and that the network’s rating that had been declining recently, has spiked overnight due to his outspoken show. She offers Schumacher to help him with the Beale’s show and make it number one, and the network one of the top ones in the country. To achieve her ambitious plan, after Schumacher rejects her offer, she tempts him into a personal extramarital affair. At the same time she also convinces Hackett to give her Howard’s show to run as he has become the spokesperson of all frustrated and despair people of America, disclosing the hypocrisy of the system.
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Sydney Lumet with a great portfolio as a filmmaker, starting his debut with his masterpiece “12 Angry Men” in 1957, created one or two films every year afterwards, until his great film of “Serpico” in 1973. Shortly after he made another masterpiece “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1975 again with Al Pacino and just a year after another great work “Network” in 1976. Though he touches on different topics, he is the best in examination of social issues and psychological struggles of modern humans as in his above three great films. Lumet as an “actor director” was a master of pulling the best performances out of different actors whom he directed. He brought out one of the best performances from Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb in “12 Angry Men” and the best of Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon” and from Peter Finch in “Network”.
Not an ordinary bank robbery:
Not only one of the first hostage taking film in cinema, “Dog Day Afternoon” is a unique one that has rarely equaled. Based on a true bank robbery in 1972 in Brooklyn by Sonny Wortzik (played by Al Pacino) and Salvatore “Sal” Naturale (played by John Cazale) the film is felt all the way very real, even the acts the bank employees taken as hostages. A more mature cooperation between Sydney Lumet and Pacino than their first work together in “Serpico”, the film depicts the reality of the lives of American people in a city like Brooklyn, where two of their residents struggling with living, attempt to steal some money for their needs. After an opening scene of the real poor neighborhood of Brooklyn in a summer heat, three robbers arrive at the bank in their car.
Sal approaches the bank manager who is sitting at his desk and on the phone pointing his rifle at, and Sonny taking his gun out of a wrapped gift box nervously. A young chap, Stevie as the third robber or their driver, who walks in with Sonny and Sal, soon gives up and leaves as he is scared. Sal is mentally disturbed looking and Sonny the mastermind is a nerve rack. The police soon is informed by the insurance salesman who works across the street, when he notices smoke coming out of the vents of the bank, from a document Sonny was burning inside.
The robbery though was planned somewhat by Sonny, it seems very spontaneous as one of the female bank teller telling him. This spontaneity is shown well by improvising act of Al Pacino as Sonny. The crowd outside who probably live a struggling life like the robbers, are supportive and cheer them, while Sonny who keeps getting in and out of the bank in negotiating talk with the police detective excites them more. Sal is the scarecrow who’s introduced to the police sergeant as a Vietnam veteran killer with killing meaning nothing to him. The whole film is charged with anxiety and anticipation and the nervous act of Sonny generalizes to the others including the police detective.
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The Godfather Part II that was released two years after the first part in 1974 is placed above the first part in contrast to many other lists of the greatest films for the reasons that will follow. For example The Godfather (or part I) had been ranked the third on the first AFI list of the greatest American films in 1997 and the second on its second edition list in 2007, while The Godfather Part II has been ranked number 32 on both editions of the list. It is unusual to rank a second part of a film, or a trilogy in this case above the first or the original one, but The Godfather Part II has so much more and deserves to be at least one rank higher than the first part. In fact the major reason that the first part that will be presented here right after the second part at the same time, has been ranked on this list of the greatest films of all time, is its impact on others, and not per se for its own merit. To understand better the ranking differential between these two films, some comparisons will be attempted here.
The part two starts where the part one finished, with Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) ascends to the position of the Godfather, passed on to from Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando who plays only in the first part) ruling the family’s organized crime. Soon after, the next scene flashbacks to the past and origin of Vito Corleone, the Godfather, back to Sicily Italy. Vito Andolini at the time is a nine years old boy, the only son left for his mother whose husband has been stained by the local mob chieftain, Don Cicco for not giving in. Her older son who had disappeared to the hills to take revenge of his father’s murder, soon at the time of the father’s funeral is shot to death by the mobs as well.
The mother goes to Don Cicco with Vito asking for his forgiveness to spare his only son’s life as “he’s too young and would not seek revenge”. But the mother is killed on the spot and the young Vito runs away. While the local mobs looking for Vito everywhere in the village of Corleone, he’s arranged to flee the village and get aboard of a ship to America. The scene of immigrants aboard reaching the land of free with their hopeful eyes falling on the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island of New York is one of the most beautiful such scenes of immigrating to America at the turn of 20th century, even better than “America America “ of Elia Kazan. The next scene while Vito has passed the immigration screening and placed in a room, looking through the window at the Statue of Liberty, fades off to the present time where Michael hosts a party.
Right away the difference between the two parts is that the first part is a cross sectional depiction of a mafia family, while the second part is a longitudinal examination of the origin of such family, starting off good, but ending devil. Throughout the film there are flashbacks to the past in early 20th century when all started with Vito, first an honest and hard working man who grew to become a monster and a killing machine. Even when back to the present in the second part, Michael is seen clearly in conflict within himself for taking on such responsibility leading a criminal family at the cost of ruining his own life. This is not yet seen in the first part, where Vito Corleone like a king with no remorse orders killings at ease and comfort of his place.
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