The most famous film of Georges Melies, the pioneer of visual effects on film. This is not Melies' first narrative film, for example Barbe-bleue from a year earlier is a very well told story. This films, however, is propably the best example of Melies' style.
Being a very early feature lenght film, L'Inferno has very little moving camera, actually just a few pans and that's all. But what makes this such a visually striking work are the amazing sets and visions of hell. Now I just can't imagine hell as anything different than a place with wide open spaces, rivers and lakes and rocky terrain. And of course purgatory with grassy fields and trees. Oh, and nearly everyone is naked.
Two things stand out in this one: the impressive large sets and the before its time camerawork. The sets actually remind me a lot of H.R. Giger's later work. This must also be one of the earliest films with moving camera that doesn't follow any action. The camera just moves to add visual interest.
Bauer really was hugely ahead of his time. In this mid 1910s film he already had deep focus photography and fantastic use of lighting, and not only those, but a long tracking shot with camera moving backwards through a room with party guests. Impressive.
Birth of a Nation is of course the more famous movie in terms of camerawork from Griffith, and while the tracking shots are indeed impressive I still hold Intolerance in far greater value as it's far more impressive movie in every way. There's one especially impressive visual moment with a crane shot in a huge set.
Another impressive film by Bauer, and actually my favourite of the three I've seen from him this far. There may not be a single moment as impressive as in After Death, but the photography is otherwise perhaps even more stylish.
Very nice photography and lighting and imaginative visual effects in this 1910s fantasy film. This is also propably the earliest film I've seen in which the actors at one point face the camera to address the audience.
A film without a single intertitle. Warning shadows is the english title of this film which may sound an odd name before seeing the film. And indeed, there are a lot of shadows in this film which makes a very unique visual style. One of the most impressive achievements of german expressionism on film for sure.
Eisenstein's debut film is a hugely innovative and energetic. The most striking aspect are of course the super fast cuts and the so called montage that many Russian directors used from this point forward. In addition to the fast cuts, the photography is very unique as well. If I had to select a film that most brings the feeling of energy and innovativeness of its director to the audience, it might well be this one.
Worthy of inclusion for this list for the famous Odessa stairs sequence alone, Battleship Potemkin is another propaganda masterpiece from Eisenstein. Editing is exceptional but so is the use of closeups and camera angles.
Of all the Garbo silent films available on DVD this is the greatest work visually. Story is pure melodrama and the director is not an auteur, but nonetheless this is visually extremely competent work. Great use of moving camera.
This is one of the greatest masterpieces of editing. There's all kinds of cuts starting from the brutal ax murder that starts the film to a peaceful and emotional scene later in the movie at a park. The story itself isn't all that special melodrama but the way it is told makes it an absolute masterpiece.
Not really a B&W film as the beautiful tinting is essential to viewing experience. Called the first feature lenght animating, this film is amazingly original in its style of animation. The film is made with silhuet characters with very artistic silhuette backgrounds. The animation itself also features some clever effects. For example in one scene flying monsters in the backround are blurred.
Pabst's most impressive film at least when it comes to camerawork. Lots of moving and use of hand-held camera. However, the most impressive moment in the film is a scene in which a character anticipating to get payed for his work a large sum of money, imagines the moment and panthomimes the act of counting them. All this is done with very fast cuts between his hands and the frantic expression on his face.
Dovzhenko's cinema is very strange and somewhat similar to what Tarkovsky would do later, only much more energetic in style. Many memorable scenes and shots in this film which is my favourite from the director.
Paul Leni really was one of the masters of moving camera in silent era. This film is his greatest achievement visually and otherwise too. Beautiful dark lighting, tracking shots and great compositions make this visually unforgettable.
This is one of the greatest films that uses images to create mood. There is for example one scene in which a person plays a guitar and between the shots of guitar we see shots of nature. These images are used to create a dark and mysterious mood. There's also some great use of hand-held camera.
A celebration of innovative cinema, Vertov's film has pretty much every kind of trick shot and editing technique used at the time: there's slow motion, split screen, rapid editing, reversed film and even stop-motion animation.
In early sound films camerawork was very often downright forgotten, but not in Rouben Mamoulian's films. Applause is his debut as a director and an impressive one at that. Unusual camera angles and a lot of moving camera in this one.
In chronological order. Recommendations and comments, whether positive or negative, are higly appreciated. Note that I will only add films that I've seen and agree on their value to this list, but I will write down the recommended films and watch them if possible.