Monday, July 01, 2013

10 most influential movies

It's hard todetermine a "most influential film", unless you categorize in whatarea the decision rests i.e technology, storyline or script,production values or performances. I tried to combine all theseareas. These ten movies may not be greatest ever made but undoubtedlythey contributed to the progress of cinema. I have restricted my self to English/Hollywood cinema and feel guilty for not including such masters like Akira Kurosowa, Ingmar Bergman, Sergie Eisenstein and Vitario DeSica even Alfred is my list of tenifluential movies ever produced.

1.The Great Train Robbery (1903):-Directed by Edwin S. Porter, GreatTrain Robbery was the first, what we call a feature film narrating astory. It was a silent film had lot of action and gun fights. Beforethis pioneering western, films were shot and produced placing camerain the centre like a spectator in a theater. Porter pioneered cameramovements like pans and medium close-ups etc. He also experimentedwith parallel story telling, that is, action occurring in differentplaces at the same time and drawing it together at the conclusion. Tothis day, it remains one of the basic story telling tool in cinema.(I have seen only glimpses of this movies-some totas)

2.Birth of a Nation (1915):-This movie set the production grammar.Master craftsman D.W. Griffith directed this epic movie. He was anactor but very soon realized that the creative potential in cinemaexisted behind the camera. He turned cinema to an art form almostsingle-handedly. With his cameraman,legendary Billy Blitzer hepractically invented film production. In `Birth of a Nation, heexperimented with lighting, framing, camera movements etc. The moviehad cuts,dissolves and many other techniques like 'montage'notproperly understood then. Most of production techniques are stillvalid today. In my humble opinion `Birth of a Nation' is the singlemost important and influential movie ever made. I could not get holdof this movie and have seen just few sequences still what everportions I could muster were amazing.

3.The Jazz Singer (1927). It was the first talkie and arguably, themost influential film for the whole industry. The film changed theworld of silent motion pictures. A new era began, and initiated asearch for pleasing, acceptable stars whose voices would sound normaland believable on film. Al Jolson immortalized these words," you aintheard nothing yet".

4.Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) .This animated productionwas Disney's first full length feature. It is as fresh and delightfulas when it was made. What is so special about it. well let meexplain. In a one second movie length there are 24 frames, when youare doing an animated movie you have to draw each and every frame.This means, if you have to produce around 90 minutes long movie, youare talking about more than 100,000 drawings. Only an eccentric likeWalt Disney could have thought about it. Besides the excellence ofproduction, the superb filming and wonderful music, movie had greatdramatic tension between Ms.White and her little friends and thevillains.

5.Citizen Kane (1941):- Orson Wells co-wrote directed and stared inthis magnificent production, it is his masterpiece. The story isabout a domineering newspaper publisher who builds a vast empire.Citizen Kane broke new grounds in cinematic craftsmanship andpioneered many modern day lighting, shooting and productiontechniques. It is said that the story was based on the life of W.Randolph Hearst and surely remains a gem among Hollywood offerings.

6.Dr No(1962):- It was directed by Terrence Young who was a an ex-airforce flyer. This first James Bond super spy thriller is one ofthe best of the Bond series. Sir Sean Connery made his debut andplayed secret agent 007,who saves the world from a powerful fiend.James Bond movies are tell-tale of western popular culture. Thesefilms sparkle with fabulous humour, thumping music, snappy action,gorgeous girls, exotic gadgets and beautiful locales. Bond moviespioneered marketing gimmicks like product placement. This series hasalso influenced film trade and evolved a winning formula- Car chase,super stunts, martinis shaken not stirred and off course lusciouswomen-What else would you like to see on the screen?

7.Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) :- By seventies, cinema pretty muchgot settled and most of genres were defined. After Vietnam War andWatergate scandal spirits in US were quite low. Americans lost faithin their political system. There were oil shortages, inflation, highunemployment and a sense that American dream was fading away.Hollywood was churning out hippy movies, and than came Star Wars.George Lucas provided a perfect happy ending fantasy. From theopening scroll it touched audience hearts world over. It was amagnificent adventure for a kid in everyone. The movie was part FlashGordon, part Wizard of Oz and had a simple good guys vs bad guysplot . However it changed film trade forever. Before `Star Wars'nobody knew about merchandising, toys, posters, tee-shirts, videocassettes sales etc etc. George Lucas also employed dazzling specialeffects, fantastic Graphics and very believable puppeteering. It alsolaunched Harison Ford ,Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher to unparallelstardom however R2D2 and C3PO stole the show.I have heard theserobots have been placed in Smithsonian institute.

8.Saturday Night Fever (1976-77):-This movie was based on a newspaperarticle about Brooklyn youth and disco scene of 1970s. Though thescript was loaded with clich├ęs yet it conveyed a convincing statementabout youth culture. It reminded Hollywood about musicals andreignited interest in musicals and dance movies. It was forerunner tomany dance movies including Grease, Flash dance, Fame, StayingAlive , Dirty Dancing and so on. Directed by John Badham, JohnTrovolta debuted as a young disco stud and brought enoughcreditability to the otherwise dark role. And his dancing was a crazeworld over. It was a stunning film debut. Some of the songs by BeeGees like `You should be dancing', `how deep is your love', 'Nightfever' and `Staying Alive' have become pop culture anthems. The moviesound track album remains one of the highest selling albums ever.

9.Pulp Fiction –I have very fond memory of this movie. Back in 90s, Iwent to my video rental shop in F-8 Islamabad which was owned by aretired Chief Tech.I asked for some latest good movie. he said thatthere was a movie which nobody liked but he was sure I wouldappreciate. I was amused by his remarks, still rented it out. and Ihated its every frame and cursed its director as well as my friendchief tech who rented the movie to me. However by concluding sequenceI realized I was watching a new type of cinema. Undoubtedly `PulpFiction' generated a new level of cinema where the film consisted ofnumber of stories which linked into one final outcome. Directed byQuinten Tarintino ,Pulp Fiction is episodical story telling. It isfull of shocking and lyrical violence. The movie turned aroundsagging career of John Travolta and gave Samuel L. Jackson a bigbreak. Uma Thurman was the icing on the cake. Quinten Tarintino madeKill Bill Vol-1 and 2 on the similar format but Pulp Fiction remainshis best effort.

10.The Matrix :- Finally The Matrix; so much has been written aboutthis movie that I cannot add anything to it. Matrix changed the waymovies are made and the way audience watch. The script borrowedheavily from mythology, philosophy and religions. Some of the ideaspresented were rage, like Morpheus telling Neo, "what is real, just abio-chemical signal to your brain." The shooting techniques forexample things like `bullet time' were ground breaking, actionbreathtaking and post production out of the box.

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