Monday, July 01, 2013

Another list of 10 Great Movies

Few weeks back I wrote about the most influential movies ever, itgenerated good discussion. I am giving another list of 10 moviesproduced outside Hollywood/US.All of these movies had huge impact onfilm trade and audience world over. You may not agree with the listbut if you haven't seen these movies,believe me you have missedsomething for these are definitive expression of human creativity.any feedback?

1. THE BATTLESHIP POTYOMKIN-1925 by Sergei EisensteinIt is from silent era and is a fictional narrative of a real-lifeevent that occurred in 1905, the Battleship Potyomkin uprising, whenthe crew of a Russian battleship rebelled against their oppressiveofficers during the Tsarist regime. Eisenstein's recreates the mutinyby sailors of the battleship Potyomkin and in the process pushes theexpressive potential of cinema to its limit.Battleship Potemkin has been called one of the most influential filmsof all time, and has been in the many critics and viewers list as thegreatest film ever.Those who are interested in cinema history might know; The OdessaSteps sequence, which remains one of the most memorable set-pieces incinema. Sergie Eisenstein also pioneered the `Russian montage'technique for action sequences. I have personally used it, and itworks wonderfully well.As the movie is from no voice period, the highlight of the movie isthe original score which was composed by Edmund Meisel. I am notaware of any of his other work, but music score is brilliant.Composer/conductor Mark-Andreas Schlingensiepen has reorchestratedand improved the score based on the original piano score and hasadjusted it to fit the reconstructed version of the film availabletoday.In order to make the film relevant for the 21st century, Pet ShopBoys composed a new soundtrack in 2004 based on the original byMeisel. The DVD which I have contains new sound track composed by PETSHOP BOYS accompanied by pieces of classical music.

2.LA RÈGLE DU JEU/ RULES OF THE GAME-1939 by Jean Renoir.

This one also is considered to be one of the greatest films of alltime. The film is about upper-class French society and set in theperiod just before the start of World War II.I have read that the film was initially condemned for its satire onthe French upper classes and was greeted with derision by a Parisiancrowd . The French upper class is depicted in this film as capriciousand self-indulgent, with little regard for the consequences of theiractions. (Which reminds me of our upper class in Pakistan)I have seen this movie recently on DVD and was extremely impressedwith its simplicity of production and great storytelling technique.Technically it pioneered the use of deep focus to highlight theevents going on in the background are as important as those in theforeground.


The Bicycle Thief is an all time classic and a master piece ofItalian director Vittario DeSica.The movie is based on the novel byLuigi Bartolini .The film tells the story of an unemployed workerAntonio, who gets a job that requires that he must have a bicycle. Onthe first day on the job, the bike is stolen and the rest of the filmis a frantic pursuit of the bicycle thieves. Along the way heencounters injustice and apathy. From beginning to end, his small butfierce son is his companion. At the end of the film Antonio,desperate to keep his job, attempts to steal a bicycle himself. He iscaught and humiliated in front of his son.The Bicycle Thief is representative movie of neo-realism movement.Majority of the cast were not professional actors but were peoplefrom real life. The documentary-style camera work helped convey thefeeling that the film is truly about real people. It mixed melodrama,documentary and social commentary. Steven Spielberg used thetechnique for his Schindleir's List.

4. RASHOMON (Japan, 1950)by Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa was cinema's grand samurai and is my favouritefilmmaker. He is arguably the greatest ever as well. His workinspired many filmmakers around the world. Some of the all timeclassics are inspired from his movies. The Magnificent Seven wasbased on his `The Seven Samurai', Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollarswas a remake of his `Yojimbo' and George Lucas gives credit toKurosawa's `Hidden Fortress' for inspiration for Star Wars.Rashomon is Akira Kurosawa at his best. It is a story offering fourdiffering accounts of a rape and murder, all told in flashbacks, agripping study of human behaviour. The theme is the difficulty ofreaching to the truth about an event from conflicting witnessaccounts. In English "Rashomon" has become a word for any situationwherein the truth of an event becomes difficult to verify due to theconflicting accounts of different witnesses. In psychology, the filmhas lent its name to the `Rashomon effect'. In the nutshellKurosawa's parable said; life has many meanings or maybe none atall.Technically also Rashomon was a ground breaking production. Useof close ups, contrasting shots and innovative use of direct sunlightand reflectors gave an interesting and different look to the film.

5.SMULTRONSTÄLLET /WILD STRAWBERRIES-1957 by Ingmar Bergman. (Sweden)

This is my personal favourite. Written and directed by IngmarBergman, It is a story of a medical doctor and teacher who re-evaluate his life due to his old age, his impending death, hisnightmares and daydreams. It was a complex character performed ablyby Victor Sjöström. The film contains many themes and subtle nuanceswhich later became Ingmar Bergman's artistic trademarks. Many filmcritics and film historians consider the film to be one of Bergman'sbest, despite having been made relatively early in his career.Woody Allen's 1997 film `Deconstructing Harry' is loosely based uponBergman's Wild Strawberries. Bergman stated in an interview that thefilm had helped him overcome his fear of death.

6. 8 ½ /THE BEAUTIFUL CONFUSION-Federico Fellini-Italian

This is a 1963 film written and directed by Italian director FedericoFellini. It is acclaimed by film critics as one of the finest filmsever made and is considered Director's movie. The Beautiful Confusionis a seminal movie about film-making and the agonies and ecstasies ofthe creative process. The film is a free-floating tale often blurringreality and fantasy. The story revolves around a film director,played by Marcello Mastroianni, who is suffering from `creativeblock'. He is supposed to be directing a science fiction film but haslost interest and suffers creative confusion due to maritaldifficulties. No wonder the movie is so popular with directors. Ihave seen this movie several times and each time I was able to enjoyit.

7. DET SJUNDE INSEGLET / THE SEVENTH SEAL-1957, Ingmar Bergman.(Sweden)

Another brilliant Ingmar Bergman movie. The title is a reference tothe passage from the Book of Revelation. The protagonist of the movieis a knight (played by Max von Sydow) returning from the Crusades andfinds that his home country is ravaged by the plague. To his dismay,he discovers that Death has come for him too. In order to buy time hechallenges Death to a chess match, with his life resting on theoutcome of the game, which allows him to reach his home and bereunited with his wife. An image of a man playing chess with deathin the form of a skeleton actually existed in a medieval churchpainting from the 1480s in Täby kyrka, Täby, north of Stockholm.Bergman has referred to this painting as the inspirational source forthe movie. The film was the winner of the Special Jury Prize at theCannes Film Festival, in 1957. Irish pop musician Chris De Burgh haswritten and composed a great song `Spanish train' based on this theme.

8. FIST OF FURY (Hong Kong, 1972)

This is an action packed Bruce Lee movie. I saw this in Shaheen Cinema Sargodha,Pakistan on a weekend book out with my friend in 1979.At that time I was not aware of its merits. It was just a rip-roaringkung-fu action for us. It is story of a student who returns to HongKong to avenge death of his dead teacher. Bruce Lee proved that anintense young man could kick the bad guys, the audience as well asbox office the way he liked. Directed by Lo Wei's, it is one of thefinest Bruce Lee films, which made him an international sensation.The film had a huge impact and launched Hong Kong cinema world over.A wave of martial arts movies followed, Bruce Lee himself starred inseveral but Fist of Fury was his finest.

9. SHOLAY; by Ramesh Sippy (India)

"Sholay "arguably is the finest bollywood movie-great script,outstanding direction, superlative performances and magnificentmusic. So much has already written and talked about this movie that Imight not be able to add to it, yet, one can always talk somethingabout "Sholay".It is an evergreen classic. Sholay took inspirationsfrom various films including `Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid', ` TheProfessionals' even `Seven Samurais' and many other buddymovies .Sholay is a masala film but with all the right ingredients injust the right quantities. Salim-Javed are at their best in Shoaly,direction by Ramesh Sippy is crisp as well as seminal. Casting issuperb and movie features some of the biggest stars and the finestactors of Bollywood cinema, yet a debutant Amjad Khan steals theshow. Gabbar Singh is the singular most important character evercreated in sub-continent. Salim-Javed wrote great lines for him, butAmjad Khan immortalizes them.

10. Olympia - Pt. 1 & 2 (1936) Lenni Riefenstahl.

An absolute gem, no greatest movie list can be considered authenticwithout mentioning Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia or Triumph of Will.Olympia is Leni Riefenstahl's documentary about the 1936 BerlinOlympics. It consists of two parts. Olympia Part 1: "The Festival ofthe Nation" includes the lighting of the torch ceremony, and thetrack and field events in which Jessie Owens won four Gold Medals.Olympia Part 2: "The Festival of Beauty" includes field hockey, polo,soccer, aquatics, bicycling, sailing, rowing, the marathon race,and the decathlon. This is a groundbreaking and landmark documentaryfilm and was made specifically at Hitler's request.The movie is filmed in blank and white. Leni is an absolute master ofcinematography. The angles she used and her blending and fading fromone scene to the other along with the experiments with outdoorfilming, extremely effective use of dramatic music and depiction ofhuman emotion all make this an extra-ordinary viewing experience.I have read that Leni spent several years personally editing Olympia.She only slept a few hours per nights during those years as she wasobsessed with creating a masterpiece. And her masterpiece ismesmerizing indeed.

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