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Added by Harmonica on 4 Oct 2008 05:57
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Visually Exceptional Films, B&W 4:3

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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.

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Early stop-motion animation with insects. Creepy and great, and very well made.
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People who added this item 146 Average listal rating (61 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
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.

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People who added this item 54 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
Suspense (1913)
An early suspense short that reminds me of later filmmaking styles of Mario Bava, Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock. Early use of split-screen for example is fantastic.

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People who added this item 107 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.8
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.

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People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
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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.

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People who added this item 373 Average listal rating (182 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Intolerance (1916)
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.

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People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7
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.

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People who added this item 51 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7
The Blue Bird (1918)
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.

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Ah, the most famous work of german expressinism on film. No moving camera on this one but the strange sets really are fantastic. And best of all, it all supports the story as well.

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People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7
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.

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People who added this item 295 Average listal rating (142 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1
Impressive Murnau film with early use of hand-held camera for one thing. Extremely beautiful film visually.

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People who added this item 45 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 7.9
Visuals may not be the main interest in this film, but the beautiful scenery really does make this a nice looking film.

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People who added this item 219 Average listal rating (116 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.6
Strike (1925)
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.

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People who added this item 855 Average listal rating (514 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8
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.

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People who added this item 377 Average listal rating (166 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1
Majestic gothic imagery and amazing visual effects in this Murnau film. I especially love the flying carpet scene in which we see the camera flying through a very large miniature landscape set.

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People who added this item 101 Average listal rating (43 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1
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.

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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.

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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.

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People who added this item 28 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
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.

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People who added this item 1912 Average listal rating (963 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.3
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People who added this item 624 Average listal rating (339 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 8.2
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
Arsenal (1929)
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.

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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 8.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
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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.

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People who added this item 34 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.9
L'argent (1928)
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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.

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One of the most visually unique films ever made, Dreyer's film uses almost only closeups of faces to tell the story and famously didn't even show all of the very expensive set.

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People who added this item 102 Average listal rating (39 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.3
This is propably Pudovkin's most amazingly edited film. The super fast cuts, symbolism and hand-held camera are used in one scene to portray power and rage.

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People who added this item 54 Average listal rating (25 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
Street Angel (1928)
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People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 7.1
John Ford has many a nice looking films and this is of those I've seen my favourite visually. The entire film is filled with shots of lyrical beauty.

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One of the finest examples of the early surrealist movement on film. I like this more than Un Chien Andalou actually because I think this has a darker and tenser mood.

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People who added this item 58 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.3
I doubt there exists a more beatiful film solely about rain. The images are beautiful and the city symphony struckture works well.

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People who added this item 1192 Average listal rating (684 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
The famous debut film from Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. It may not make much sense (which is exactly the point) but it has plenty of memorable images and original visual tricks.

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People who added this item 45 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
Asphalt (1929)
Beautiful dark visuals and use of mobile camera in this film from a poorly known director Joe May.

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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.

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People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.6
Another Russian production with stylish use of closeups and editing. Kozintsev would later direct great looking Shakespeare adaptations he's more well known of.

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People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Applause (1929)
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.

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One of the greatest war films ever made, this early sound film is stylish, violent and story-wise great.

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People who added this item 177 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.4
I've always loved Dovzhenko's use of the picture frame. He often, such as in this shot, leaves much of the frame completely empty to a great effect.

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People who added this item 93 Average listal rating (43 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.4
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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.

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