3003 Movies Into the New Age!!!...so far?
189 7.3 7.33003. The Arrival of a Train at Station (1896)
Directed by the Lumière Brothers
Auguste and Louis Lumière were considered the pioneers of motion picture. Without their involvement towards the advancement of moving still photographs cinema would not progress into the 20th, 21st Century and beyond! To this day their name can still be found on production companies and elsewhere as a living to all that they helped make possible, despite the fact that it's been rumored they attempted to block the efforts of aspiring up and coming film artists such as Georges Melies. Working under their father in the study of photography - it was only after he had passed away that the sons got the initiative to start what would be the beginning of early filmmaking by producing a series of short films under a minute which silly as it may seem to today's youth, was actually quite MIND-BLOWING for the time!
All of these short films that they released constituted documentary style mis-en-scene moments, showing arbitrary tasks such as workers leaving a factory for the day. Here, I want to focus on only one of their films in particular. This movie is considered to be the pioneer of suspense films as it has now and again been credited to be history's first horror film. The plot is simple enough, it's exactly as the title reads. You simply see a train arriving at the train station. Nothing could be more dull right?
Well, to get the right picture you have to imagine yourself back in 1896 when this movie was released. People had never seen a moving picture before and certainly not on a 20 plus foot by 50 plus wide projection screen?! It's been noted that upon the film's first showing people ran screaming for their lives from the movie theater cause they assumed this was the image of a real live locomotive train coming at them, they thought it was gonna bust through the screen and squish them. --Without the addition of this short but effective documentary thriller, horror films or slasher movies, or and form of movie suspense whatsoever would not given birth, and for that this film deserves respect!...
809 8.1 8.23002. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
Directed by Georges Melies
A cult classic short film released around the turn of the 20th century, considered to be the very first real science fiction movie as the films before this release were very modern day, documentary style, depicting ordinary day to day life. Based on two separate books by famed science fiction writers Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, this film attempted to boldly take audience's imaginations where they had never been before. Verne and Wells were two of a small bunch of revolutionary new aspiring writers who seemed to spawn up all of a sudden with visions and ideas that today may seem out of date and ridiculous, but a closer look at the Ancient Astronaut Theory as of late, temps us to suggest that writers like Verne, Stoker, Wells, and Doyle, may have been on to something that the general public was not privy to?
Long before the 'superhype' surrounding the famed Apollo 11 mission yet to come in 1968, during the end of the 19th century, astrology was taking on a new fevered popularity amongst established thinkers and more so then than ever before people were beginning to dream outside their normal framework of present day thinking and look towards the stars. Accompanying this new found enthusiasm for the mapping of and calculating of celestial bodies it's been documented that people began for the first time (although Ancient Astronaut Theory evidence suggests otherwise) to consider the possibility of life on other planets? Jules Verne and H.G. Wells capitalized on this and published their respective books describing fictional manned trips to the moon using a rocket. The results of their release may very well been the inspiration for the soon to come space rocketry programs around the world.
The result of the very first adaptation of these two novels culminates in what 'toady' may seem like a very silly and out of date movie, I know I found it hysterical and was laughing so hard as it's 'goofiness'. But here's the reason it deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time greats: just take a look at the 'marvel' of technical achievement this film managed to produce. It may be old, and I'm sure James Cameron by now has probably blown this movie out of the water! But at the time it was the best effects around that money could buy. And it shows, there are moments in this feature that I found myself scratching my head wondering how they managed to create that effect with the cinematic tech available at the time? The cinematography is beautiful and 'alive', the effects seem to weave in and out of the foreground and background, leading the viewer to wonder where one ends and the other begins? It's truly an amazing work of ark and one of the pioneering and groundbreaking technical achievements of known cinema history. It would be an honor to follow in this film's footsteps. -All in all I don't think this film should be taken too seriously, any movie that involves a 'wheel of cheese' looking moon with a face that gets it's eye shot out by a rocket that looks like an enlarged sniper rifle shell, is obviously not meant to be a documentary?...
331 7.2 7.43001. The Great Train Robbery (1903)
98 7.9 73000. L'Inferno (1911)
65 7.5 7.92999. The Cameraman's Revenge (1912)
16 7.2 72998. Fantomas Against Fantomas (1914)
76 7.2 6.92997. Cabiria (1914)
353 6.6 72996. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
180 7.3 7.12995. Les Vampires (1915)
261 8.1 7.92994. Intolerance (1916)
210 7.8 7.62993. Broken Blossoms (1919)
25 8 7.52992. Male and Female (1919)
100 7.8 7.72991. Way Down East (1920)
847 8.2 82990. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
156 7.4 7.22989. The Golem (1920)
49 6.8 6.42988. Within Our Gates (1920)
200 8.3 7.92987. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
677 8.3 8.32986. The Kid (1921)
92 7.8 7.72985. Orphans of the Storm (1921)
49 7 6.92984. The Sheik (1921)
39 8.3 7.52983. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
239 7.6 7.82982. Nanook of the North (1922)
1267 8 82981. Nosferatu (1922)
303 8.1 7.72980. Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)
Directed by Benjamin Christensen
This is a 'particularly' strange movie, part documentary/part dramatization, an early pseudo-horror masterpiece from visionary Danish filmmaker Christensen, who wanted to make a film examining the direct correlation between superstition and mass hysteria throughout human history, and in the process in my opinion ended up creating a delectably gory, warped surreal film which belongs to no linear category or argument. Although seemingly an atheistic in principal, apt to make the argument that all forms of superstition or belief in what we would today call the paranormal is nothing more than an intensive form of public delusion and psychosis, Christensen instead audaciously offers a counter-argument within his own material that one form of faith is perhaps just as dangerous as the other? After seeing this and "Intolerance" it's amazing to see just how subversive and unafraid of censorship filmmakers were back then. Despite the fact that Christensen has numerous 'hurdles' to overcome in getting this film to see the light of day.
The story is told in 'seven' acts, starting with early history of ancient civilization folklore, beginning with tales of the Sumerian Gods followed by Persian accounts of fabled demonic entities and Demigods that rule the Underworld and feast upon the souls of the walking corrupt. This of course isn't meant to suggest that wicked villains always got their comeupins like we'd all wish to believe, instead this form of mythology was used to implement a strict dogmatic hierarchy, that human beings all over the globe were forced to abide by to assure they ascended into Heaven upon death, and resisted the Devil's temptation. Christensen based his film largely on the 15th Century medieval guide book "Malleus Maleficarum" by Heinrich Kramer, but rather than simply adapt written material to visual platform, Christensen is quoted as stating "In principal [sic] I am against these adaptations... I seek to find the way forward to original films." Instead, the opening act seems to be conducted as sort of an examination of cruel and illogical code of practice that people of ancient to modern times have lived by, starting with the mind-bogglingly moronic understanding Spanish inquisitors and the Catholic Church had of the upper echelons of God and his dimensions. Believing the Universe to consist of 10 stationary spheres, the Earth being at the center of that system with a layer of air, then fire above the waters, then the planets which of course revolve around the Earth, then sit the stars in fixed positions in the sky, then the Almighty himself in the 10th sphere which exists outside of that, surrounded by his nine choirs of angels. Some may look at this and find this logically insultingly daft and be quick to criticize but I myself found the info kind of fascinating, it's my opinion that the Christians and Catholics (like there's a difference?) weren't exactly delusional or possessed below average IQ and common sense. Rather I believe they were the target of a deliberate con job implemented some time long ago in ancient prehistory. Scientists today have come up with the argument that the Universe itself consists of 10 dimensions, with 9 being spatial and 1 temporal, and I'm curious to wonder - who came up with the 'precise' number of 10 when they were putting this philosophy together? It's clear human beings in ancient times were getting their info from some place, it was just horrendously misunderstood - something must have got lost in translation? -There's also an argument to be made with the film's next examination, just why it is Hell is always associated with the Underworld, why underground. People on David Icke message boards would know why this is. But this is hardly the time and place for conspiracy theory web chatter so I'll move on.
The film goes on to give detailed accounts of witches' Sabbaths and gathering in secluded woods where young women were reportedly known to engage in depraved gatherings with the Devil. In live action scenes shown to be lulled into a hypnotic trance in their sleep and lured by the Devil's charm, forcing them to enact malicious and reprehensible behavior, that they normally would not do. And since back then Religion was Law, the monks and priests basically presided over the fate of individuals who were accused of witchcraft, and the film do a sincerely honest job of illustrating just how unfair and illogical the methods used by the Inquisitors during a suspected witch's interrogation. I'm sure if this film was made nearly 80 years later an convincing caparison could be made on part of the filmmaker between this and modern US terrorist investigations. As the filmmaker and his cast point out in the latter part of the movie when they discuss the various means of torture used on the individuals charged in the accounts - if you were hooked up to these kind of diabolical torture devices, you'd confess to something you weren't guilty of too! It don't matter how tough you are - nobody's THAT tough! -However, although there's little doubt that the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem witchcraft trials are without a doubt responsible for the murders of millions of innocent civilians in numerous parts of the globe, Christensen's film is a little more chilling than that. It's here were the fun begins as Christensen's creative efforts virtually leap off the screen and into your psyche. With set designs and costumes/makeup designs, and not to mention graphic scenes of occult imagery. All being dramatized by short little parables involving campy tales to work towards an argument, such as the maiden who goes to a coven of witches to win the heart of a fat slobbering friar who she seriously wants to get boned by - ok, this part's just kinda funny. But there's also the unnerving case of the old woman, Maria the Weaver, who is suspected of witchcraft by a family of paranoid neighbors who suspect her of placing a curse on a male family member. Once in custody she is tortured till confession, but the interesting thing about Christensen's approach is when the old woman confesses her story, it seems to simply be a rehashing of everything that was discussed in the first part of the film, thus suggesting that perhaps her confession was disingenuine and likely the result of accounts she's overheard from previous sources, like reading a script.
Christensen remarks on how easy is was to be 'accused' by summing it up - "During the witchcraft era it was dangerous to be old and ugly, but it was not safe to be young and pretty either." Damn, a girl just can't win! -This is examined when we see that Maria ends up accusing the very women that ratted her out to the Inquisition, of being witches themselves. And guess what happens? --Eventually the film catches up to the present and in the current regime during the era of this film's release Darwinism and science was the dominant practice. But like most metaphysicians might argue today, is simply another form of Hippocratic dogmatic religious practice, and Christensen seems to share similar arguments as shown in his examining of Inquisitors replaced with doctors, burnt at the stake replaced with scolding hot showers. Does anything really change, or is history doomed to repeat itself? -The Inquisitors are seemingly still in charge, we've just replaced religion with law, and the torture is simply more 'politer' and secretive.
This film truly blew my mind with how direct Christensen chose to make his argument and the clarity of what he wanted his message to be. Although I found some of his arguments to be slightly naive, especially in the case of 'animal formed demons' which today people like Graham Hancock are furthering to create a platform of explanation for, such as the discussion of ancient accounts of theriantropes in his book "Supernatural". But aside from that this was one of the truly most enlightening, and ah hell - just pure 'entertaining' films I've ever seen. Christensen should be commended for his ambition, there are effects and designs in this film which were truly ground breaking and from what I've heard 'expensive'. Making it the largest production in Danish history at the time. Only for the film to facing fanatical censorship when attempted to be shown overseas - in some cases the film just got banned! Not surprising through considering the creepy imagery and push-the-envelope approach to the subject matter, showing partial nudity, witches flying through the air, dismembered body parts, a woman giving birth to large demon offspring and a particularly comical one in which individuals are shown kissing the Devil's backside in lineup. With the film eventually re-issued and shown for the Midnight Movie audience it's clear this film was the precursor to such films as "Rosemary's Baby" and "the Exorcist". Movie lovers should really check this one out, for silent standards it's pretty refreshing. Do me a favor and watch it with the lights off!...
181 8.1 7.72979. Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922)
101 7.8 7.32978. Foolish Wives (1922)
156 7.8 7.92977. Our Hospitality (1923)
62 7.9 7.52976. The Wheel (1923)
219 7.9 8.22975. Safety Last! (1923)
73 7.3 6.92974. The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)
144 7.9 7.72973. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
216 8.1 82972. The Last Laugh (1924)
244 8.4 7.92971. Greed (1924)
370 8.6 8.22970. Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
32 7.7 7.12969. Michael (1924)
Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
An unexpected masterpiece, I came across this early Dreyer flick by pure chance. WOW! -people may be surprised going in to this film, I kid you not this has got to be the earliest movie depicting an acknowledged homosexual couple on screen. Going into this silent understated classic, I didn't expect much. I assumed the implications of the relationship would be so subtle, as was the case for most movies of around this area. But everything here is right out in the open just short of actually using the 'labels' themselves to beat the audience over the head with it. -Dreyer has yet to seize to amaze me, a beautifully crafted love triangle with a 'twist'.
The story begins with young handsome Michael, being the artistic prodigy, potential heir and adopted son, and not-so secret personal plaything of acclaimed artist Claude Zoret. When we first meet Zoret he is a self-involved 'brute' of a man who constantly 'ignores' and displays a real lack of sympathy towards his lover, it makes one wonder why Michael has shacked up with him in the first place. Zoret keeps Michael under his thumb and 'in his bed' so to speak which is clear as day to anyone in various scenes where Zoret's carnal urges and impulses are expressed through brilliantly acted body language on the part of actor Christensen as Zoret, not to mention Slezak as Michael. However during a conversation with a business acquaintance between him and Michael, Michael reveals the story of how he ended up with Zoret, came to audition as an artist, ended up with a full-time gig as a 'model'.
Needless to say it is because of Michael's modeling that Zoret's sales are through the roof! -But poor mistreated Michael has his artistic creativity stifled by cold-natured Zoret, he's just about had enough! --In enters the Princess Countess Lucia Zamikow. Her stunning beauty 'instantly' captures the hearts of not just Michael - but Zoret too as she auditions as a model. Throughout the forging of the painting, a great rift occurs in the relationship of Michael and Zoret. And through a captivating turn of events Zoret senses he's losing Michael and rather than turn into the cruel and scheming tyrant I was expecting him to be, he feels sad and remorseful. -This is a beautifully crafted adaptation of the novel by Herman Bang that I promise anyone they will enjoy, Dreyer is 'always' at his best! Just your average love story of boy meets boy, meets girl, loses boy. Don't expect anything too explicit for those of you who watch gay themed films for the 'boundary pushing'. Remember this is 1924, considering how much 'subtler' the film could have turned out, this is actually pretty bold!...
5 0 72968. The Sea Hawk (1924)
694 8.2 8.22967. The Gold Rush (1925)
328 7.4 7.72966. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
94 7.9 82965. The Big Parade (1925)
639 8.1 82964. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
59 6.8 72963. The Lost World (1925)
Directed by Harry O. Hoyt
Before I start I should confess that the version I watched (just recently) is the worst version of the movie available, only 64 minutes, when there are longer versions in existence - not sure if they're in circulation, but nevertheless - I think I've seen this movie once before a long time ago so I think I have what I need to proceed. So for fans of the original who think I oughta watch the long cut before commenting, send me a link or don't read the following, cause this is the version I'm choosing to run with for this review. What can I say, my time is precious (and limited.)
Despite that being said though, though this film is nearly knocked back to the Stone Age in the face of the "Jurassic Park" generation, this film still deserves it's props for being one of the groundbreaking, pioneer dinosaur movies that set the stage for everything to come. I have yet to actually read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original by which the movie is adapted from, the franchise of course has since gone on to be adapted for movies and television, and this includes one of my all time favorite sci-fi adventures series growing up staring Jennifer O'Dell as the jungle swinging Veronica Layton (da-aam!), but I'm willing to bet that with each new update the material has since gotten further and further away from Doyle's original creation, and gets more 'nutty' with each installment. That makes this version more or less the most serious and authentic treatment of the work that's been released thus. -Although I stress that this movie probably shouldn't be taken TOO seriously, at least not in the sense of "Masterpiece Theater" or anything, as the characters and story play background noise to the MAIN attraction that had the movie-goers of yesteryear shittin' themselves senseless at Willis O'Brien's then state of the art special effects. The very same effects he would later go on to blow everyone's brains out with the release of "King Kong" nine years later.
The story revolves around the great veteran actor Wallace Beery playing the infamous Professor Challenger, considered a loon by his peers for his endless rants concerning his wise-tales of dinosaurs in the flesh that exist in the remote part of the Earth, undisturbed since their existence in isolation as part of "the Lost World" located somewhere in the Amazon. Challenger is met with opposition attempting to acquire a team that will help him to locate the lost Maple White. An explorer who leaves behind a daughter and has gone missing under mysterious circumstances. At first, Edward Malone, young impressionable aspiring reporter is brought in with the intention he plans to expose Challenger for the crackpot he is or do a slur campaign, but when he hears first hand Challenger's true to heart accounts, he becomes excited - and wants in! Malone doesn't begin with the best of first impressions, knowing he is a reporter Challenger at first refuses Malone's company and Malone is forced to 'prove himself' to the Professor. Only after learning that he is indeed a good friend of another esteemed colleague joining the expedition, Sir John Roxton, does Challenger agree to Malone accompaniment. The fourth in the cast of main characters is the missing explorer's daughter Paula who joins the crew and acts as the film's primary love interest - you knew they had to have one! -All the members involved have no clue what to expect and thus are naturally ready for disappointment, I'm sure even Challenger himself dreads this possibility in private. But the adventure truly takes off and the magic and mystery of the story unravels after traveling to Venezuela, where they characters are seen climbing a massive cliff only to knock down a tree to cross a treacherous gorge which will officially take them into the Lost World. Knowing they will soon be reunited with their missing colleague and Challenger will be able to bring back evidential proof of the Lost World's existence, forever changing the world as we know it, only for all their hopes to painfully be dashed when encountering an enraged brontosaurus who smashes the tree allowing it to fall and thus seal off the team's exit. They are now trapped in the Lost World forever, what will become of them?
The rest of the movie really writes itself and can summarized by watching the "Jurassic Park sequel" which loosely chronicles the events of this story in a modern depiction. By far the 'highlight' of the film and probably the iconic image that will most stick out in youngsters' minds about this movie is the film's climax involving a rampaging brontosaurus in downtown New York, just smashing the shit out of everything! You can earnestly feel the terror of two perspectives, first the panic of the New York pedestrians suddenly come face to face with a reality out of their worst nightmares come alive and I'm sure must seem still so unreal to witness such a thing before your very eyes with no time to truly digest such a change in reality. The second being the brontosaurus himself, obviously placed inside an era outside his natural frame of reference, he must be freaking out see the startling complex society and architecture that these little ants (human beings) have seemed to built for themselves. And there are a LOT of them now, as supposed to just Challenger and his crew back in the Lost World. I'd be flippin' my lid too if I were in it's shoes.
One thing that's worth mentioning, in comparison to the movie's more dominant successor "King Kong", this film I was relieved to see if nothing else was more scientifically authentic in which I'm speaking purely of the fact that they depict the brontosaurus as a herbivore, where as I thought it was completely insane that everything on Skull Island was primarily carnivorous, that island's Eco-system is serious f***ed! -But truly the effects are worth mentioning here as they were (and probably still are) considered quite groundbreaking for it's time. It seemed to even impress Harry Houdini who has been reported at being at a loss to decipher the trick in the fight scenes between the brontosaurus and allosaurus when Sir Doyle first screened the movie for him. I remember when "Jurassic Park" was first being released and dino-hysteria was all the buzz amongst kids my age, I didn't get to see the movie until after everyone else had, but I remember they had all these 'exhibits' set up on the outskirts of towns that our mom would take me and my bro to go see. And it seemed like now that JP had gotten kids interested in dinosaurs again (as me and my bro were dino-freaks ourselves I must admit) vendors took this liberty to showcase marathon matinees of every movie about dinosaurs (except "King Kong") in existence to get the kids 'caught up' I suppose. I distinctly remember this movie being featured among them. It's not a perfect film, and I can certainly understand a younger generation growing restless and frustrated upon initial viewing. But for those of you, nostalgia movie buffs, will certainly be able to appreciate the technological breakthrough that was achieved through this movie's release!...
156 7.9 7.72962. Strike (1925)
69 7.6 7.62961. The Freshman (1925)
133 7.9 7.92960. Seven Chances (1925)
295 8.3 7.92959. Faust (1926)
78 8.3 7.82958. Flesh and the Devil (1927)
501 8.3 8.32957. The General (1926)
15 6.7 6.62956. Beau Geste (1926)
112 7.9 7.72955. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
176 6.8 6.62954. The Jazz Singer (1927)
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