Von Stroheim wanted to make McTeague into a film without sacrificing what he saw were necessary plot details, because he wanted to reproduce the book on film, with ambitions probably partially inspired by Griffith. He created a masterpiece, but studio heads decided to cut the film to around two hours.
Von Stroheim said the film he previously worked on, Foolish Wives, became, "only the skeleton of my dead child," and unfortunately Greed suffered the same fate.
Original Length: 9 hours (a lost film)
Edited Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes (the only surviving complete copy)
Restored Legnth: 4 hours (film stills or production photos were used to restore the film with the directors' notes).
This medieval epic announced the birth of a major talent; it also stuns with the sort of unexpected poetic explosions we've come to expect from Tarkovsky: an early flying episode suggesting Gogol, a stirring climax in color. - Jonathan Rosenbaum
You should watch the blu-ray version (it has English subtitles, but was only released in Russia).
Length: 165 min
Bresson is perhaps the only man in the cinema to have achieved the perfect fusion of the finished work with a concept theoretically formulated beforehand. I know of no other artist as consistent as he is in this respect. His guiding principle was the elimination of what is known as expressiveness, in the sense that he wanted to do away with the frontier between the image and actual life; that is, to render life itself graphic and expressive. No special feeding in of material, nothing laboured, nothing that smacks of deliberate generalisation. - Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (taken from TSPDT)
As a critic, I already thought of myself as a filmmaker. Today I still consider myself a critic, and in a sense, I’m even more of one than before. Instead of criticism, I make a film, but that includes a critical dimension. I consider myself an essayist, producing essays in the form of novels or novels in the form of essays: only instead of writing, I film them. - Jean-Luc Godard, 1962
In the earliest days of cinema, the Russian director Kuleshov performed a famous experiment in which he juxtaposed identical shots of a man's face with other shots. When the man was matched with food, audiences said the man looked hungry, and so on. The shots were neutral. The montage gave them meaning. - Roger Ebert
According to the famous “Kuleshov experiment” in silent Russian cinema, the same close-up of actor Ivan Mozhukhin seen by separate audiences with a bowl of soup, or a coffin, or a little girl automatically conjured up a hungry man, or a mourner, or a pervert. - Jonathan Rosenbaum
…this lovely, moody film, for all its intense emotionalism, makes some tough intellectual demands. For its evident contemplations of a singular…transfer of personality between an older mental patient and her pretty, lonely nurse is rich in poetic intimations of subconscious longings and despairs, and it is likely to move one more deeply as poetry than as thought... - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times
Children Of Paradise is the ultimate theater-as-life movie, rich in historical allusions past and present, a landmark production that overcame constant harassment by the Germans and stands as a key testament to the spirit of the French Resistance. But apart from mere dissertation fodder, the film remains an exemplary piece of popular entertainment, full of vibrancy and wit, with unforgettable characters and a delicate, bittersweet tone that considers their emotions in balance. - Scott Tobias, A.V. Club
...the film launched ideas about associative editing that have been essential to the cinema ever since, from Soviet montage classics to recent American experimental films; and for the sheer generating of suspense through crosscutting and action the film’s climax hasn’t been surpassed in 77 years. - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Now why should the cinema follow the forms of theater and painting rather than the methodology of language, which allows wholly new concepts of ideas to arise from the combination of two concrete denotations of two concrete objects? - Sergei Eisenstein
Potemkin…has achieved such an unholy eminence that few people any longer dispute its merits. Great as it undoubtedly is, it's not really a likable film; it's amazing, though -- it keeps its freshness and its excitement, even if you resist its cartoon message…[It] looks astonishingly like a newsreel, and the politically naïve have often taken it as a 'documentary.' The more knowing have a graceful euphemism: Eisenstein, they say, 'sacrificed historical facts for dramatic effect.' - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (1992)
The film Man with a Movie Camera represents
AN EXPERIMENTATION IN THE CINEMATIC TRANSMISSION
Of visual phenomena
WITHOUT THE USE OF INTERTITLES
(a film without intertitles)
WITHOUT THE HELP OF A SCRIPT
(a film without script)
WITHOUT THE HELP OF A THEATRE
(a film without actors, without sets, etc.)
This new experimentation work by Kino-Eye is directed towards the creation of an authentically international absolute language of cinema – ABSOLUTE KINOGRAPHY – on the basis of its complete separation from the language of theatre and literature. - Dziga Vertov
Major spoilers: The greatest controversy about the film is Kiarostami's Brechtian decision to show us that we saw was only a film; after the moving shot of the protagonist laying to die, the audience sees Kiarstami filming the movie, and some critics may have found the experience jarring (I did).
Then along came Angelopoulos from Greece and Kiarostami from Iran, with their fashionably dead films in which shots last forever, and grim middle-aged men with mustaches sit and look and think and smoke and think and look and sit and smoke and shout and drive around and smoke until finally there is a closing shot that lasts forever and has no point. - Roger Ebert
Films are more harmonious than life, Alphonse, there are no bottlenecks in films, no dead-time, films keeps rolling forward, like trains, you understand, like trains in the night. People like you and me, you know, are only happy in our work, our work in the cinema. - Ferrand, Francois Truffaut's character
An obsessive-compulsive filmmaker and clearly a tormented one who wound up dying by his own hand, Eustache was clearly experimenting with his variations as well as goading viewers into examining their own reactions to them. - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Feuillade is today arguably a good deal more entertaining than Griffith, and unquestionably much more modern: his mastery of deep-focus mise en scene is astonishing, and its influence on Fritz Lang as well as Luis Buñuel and other Surrealists remains one of his major legacies... I can’t recommend it too highly. - Jonathan Rosenbaum
A cinematic event...a massive, nearly 16-hour chronicle of life in Germany, from 1919 to 1982, as reflected in the fluctuating fortunes of the members of one family, initially peasant-farmers, in the fictitious village of Schabbach in the Rhineland....In spite of its intimidating length, Heimat is immensely, easily watchable, an extraordinary succession of mostly ordinary events and characters -- history seen from ground level -- vividly acted by a huge cast of both professional and nonprofessional actors. - Vincent Canby, New York Times
I choose “Out” as the opposite of the vogue word “in”, which had caught in France and which I thought was silly. The action of the film is rather like a serial which could continue through several episodes, so I gave it the number “One”. - Jacques Rivette
"Kings of the Road" is a film of great depth and beauty, and its black and white photography is worthy of comparison with John Ford's. But it is rarely played commercially, maybe because of its three-hour length...
[There's] not a moment too long. Wenders needs the time to pace the developing relationship between his two main characters. - Roger Ebert
Among the subjects addressed are Vietnam, political battles throughout Europe, Asia, and South America, Che Guevara, Nixon, and Eisenstein’s Potemkin; the images are drawn mainly from rarely shown footage shot by others, chiefly outtakes from other documentaries. This is often thoughtful and informative, but it assumes a grasp of political struggles of the period that some American viewers won’t share. Marker’s poetic notations are generally quite effective... - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the number one hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs the pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to film is more film. - Frank Capra
I stopped updating this list. I made a list of obscure filmsthat aren't on the esoteric chart.
Films for cinema lovers; for time or another reason, they aren't very popular, but are hailed as masterpieces, or they're popular but offer more than meets the eye - I'll add a few metaphorical films about films.