Saturday, April 27, 2013

Prospero's Essential Movie Guide, Part I

Georges Melies - The Father of Narrative Film
Let's try this again, shall we? The original version of this post was lost to an unfortunate keystroke, which may well have been for the best. 

Anyway, a few days ago, a friend of a Facebook friend posted a list of 10 'essential' movies he thought his daughter should see. The list was made up of mostly good films, but was hardly comprehensive. And while I have no children of my own to advise about the movies that helped shape my view of the world, I thought I might like to pass on a list to my sweet Caitlin M, who loves movies, but also loves Zombies; the Cthulhu Mythos and Python

Of course, as I compiled my list, it grew rather unwieldy. I soon realized that I loved too many films to reduce them to a list of just 10. How can any cinephile create such a limited list? I know I couldn't possibly. And that was how my first ever series was born. Will I ever finish it? Maybe. 

Bear in mind, these the movies that inspired, excited, confounded and ignited my imagination and my personal love of film. Your list may (and probably should) vary. I've tried to keep the films in as much chronological order as possible, though I would highly recommend watching the in the groupings I have placed them (or not). I saw and shared many of these movies with my sister, who is almost as big as a cinephile as I am.

So let's get on with it, shall we? This first group of films everyone should see comes from the early days of cinema, using the technology available (some of it very clever) at the time:

Metropolis: Fritz Lang's visionary Sci-Fi classic serves as an indictment against both Mechanization and Economic Imperilaism.

Modern Times added Chaplin's silent voice to the anti-machine movement:

And Chaplin went on to create one of film's iconic sequences in The Gold Rush, using only forks and dinner rolls:

But the silent era wasn't just about fantasies and comedy. Sergei Eisenstein brought the horrors of war home with Battleship Potemkin:

Perhaps the most controversial (though well-worth seeing) film of the silent era is D.W. Griffith's 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, which depicts the KKK as the film's heroes. The Civil War was still a very sore subject in the South in 1915 and Griffith's movie was understandably popular there.

There are many more essential silent films to talk about and I will do so in the next installment. If you haven't seen these films, I suggest you seek them out.

More, anon.

No comments: