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What are the most influential films of all time?
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.08.2004 2:56 pm    Post subject: What are the most influential films of all time? Reply with quote

It is odd to see that the so called most influential films in the history of cinema are the ones that have been vastly influenced by other directors or cinematic work. Take Hitchcock's Psycho, a masterpiece in the horror genre and one of his very finest films -- influential in every sense due to its uncompromising scenes of violence, it spawned almost on its own the slasher genre. However, Hitchcock himself admitted to have been influenced by Henri-Georges Clouzot [the French Hitchcock, as they say], and it is clear that he was, because the shower scene in Psycho was partly due to the horrific bathtub scene in Les Diaboliques. Clouzot decided to use music only in the beginning and end credits in his film -- Hitchcock, in 1962, decided to do almost the very same thing in The Birds -- this time round, however, there was no musical score at all. It is also well known that Hitchcock would not let people go into

Psycho's showings once it had begun - prior to that, Clouzot had used a similar technique at the end of Les Diaboliques , where he gave the viewers a message that read: "Don't be devils! Don't spoil your friends' interest in seeing the film. Don't tell them what you've seen. Thank you - for their own sake." And, of course, there were even more similarities of Les Diaboliques - traces, so to speak - in Psycho, where Hitch used analogous plot devices, twists, somewhat disturbing images and even the surprise ending.

Another case is that of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. As a friend of mine said on RT's Critic Discussion forum, "Pulp Fiction reminded us in a big way (I say reminded us because it isn't exactly new) that filmmakers could make films from "used parts" of other movies, general pop culture knowledge, and self-reference. He drew a lot of comparisons to Godard - partly his idea, naming Bande ? part as one of his favorite films (and naming his production company after the film) - but the difference, a difference that irritated some of the more ambivalent critics, like Jonathan Rosenbaum, was that for Tarantino, style was his number one spectacle, whereas what enthralled Godard in art and the cinema became increasingly inseparable from what troubled him in politics, until the latter overtook the former altogether. (Still some lovely references to Hawks, To Have and Have Not in particular, as late as 1993, in Nouvelle vague, and one gleans from Histoire(s) du cin?ma (1998) and 2 x 50 Years of French Cinema that his movie love has aged like fine wine, not vinegar.)

Anyway, aside from the legions of bad Pulp Fiction wannabes that dot our Blockbuster shelves, I think Tarantino also paved the way for the new kind of "virtuoso" filmmakers who've become central to American popular cinema in the last ten years. Since Tarantino, the new kind of cinema has been the old kind...made new again. We have Paul Thomas Anderson, whose long, complex takes mark him as a potentially worthy successor to Max Ophuls; David Gordon Green, messiah of the new "honest" cinema, so proud of its Quiet Moments and Real Emotions (Sofia Coppola takes the silver medal in this race); McG, who has mastered the art of getting distracted from the main narrative (a trait inherited from Godard*); Spike Jonze; Darren Aronofsky (where is that guy?); David Fincher; so on and so on."

Anywho, after this mild musing, which films do you consider to be the most influential?
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.08.2004 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most influential? Dude, that's an intimidating topic. Taking into consideration every little sub-genre and cinematic movement in the history of cinema, there must be at least hundreds of springboards, inspirations, and wonders, most of which (I'm sure) I've never seen.

I think many of the most influential films would have to be silents, the innovative movies made at the dawn of cinema, since they inevitably would influence the way that every single movie would be made for a century thereafter. The tableaux films of the Lumiere brothers for sure, as well as the fantasies of Georges Melies (any of them, really). The Great Train Robbery (1903) by Edwin Porter could technically be called the first American narrative film, and would strongly influence the many silent Westerns that populated early American cinemas. D.W. Griffith, especially The Birth of a Nation, was a driving force in narrative cinema. Movies like Napoleon by Abel Gance, Battleship Potemkin by Eisenstein, and Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov played around with visual and cinematographic innovation in strikingly new ways. Perhaps Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" did more for oblique camera angles and close-ups than any other movie. Of course there's also the early German Expressionist movement, with movies like Murnau's [/i]Nosferatu and Wiene's [i]The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

As far as sound is concerned, The Jazz Singer was certainly the springboard for innovative sound experimenters like Rene Clair (A Nous La Liberte) and Chaplin with Modern Times, an odd infusion of sound and silence. Speaking of comedy, Buster Keaton's brilliant mixture of cinematic innovation and slapstick perfection certainly make for one of the most creative presences in comedic history - especially Sherlock Jr. - while Preston Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek is one of the first "taboo" screwball comedies, dealing with the fiasco of a small town's unwed single mother.

Going on like this would take way too much time and space, so let's do a condensed checklist, shall we?:

- The Battle of Algiers, Pontecorvo, with a documentary-like reality that would influence realist filmmakers for decades

- The Apu Trilogy, Ray, a beautifully realistically trilogy that introduced India's film community as an unmistakable international presence

- A number of films from the French New Wave, including Truffaut's The 400 Blows, Godard's Breathless, and Varda's Cleo from 5 to 7

- The most influential American cinematic form: film noir, which influenced the French New Wave, international horror films, and gangster films/comedies the world over (esp. Detour by Ulmer, The Maltese Falcon by Huston, and The Postman Always Rings Twice by Garnett)

- Tex Avery's early cartoons and Disney's first creations (esp. Steamboat Mickey and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)

- Brakhage's Dog Star Man, arguably the most ubiquitous experimental film ever

- Any number of Hong Kong action films, especially those from the 1970's starring Bruce Lee or produced by the Shaw Bros., because they influenced...

- Tarantino, whose Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction basically formulated the template for all modern American action films

- The Matrix - can you watch an American action movie today that doesn't show traces of it?

- The movies of Michelangelo Antonioni, esp. Blow-Up and L'Avventura, and Alain Resnais, esp. Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad, all movies that gave European (French in particular) filmmaking as uniquely atmospheric, complex, and mysterious (also Robert Bresson's movies, such as "Pickpocket")

- Gimme Shelter, one of the first rock documentaries - and A Hard Day's Night, the forefather of all modern-day rock band vanity projects

- I think Amores Perros will serve to be an extremely important film: there's a rush of innovative movies coming out of Mexico right now, and that may be the spark of it all

- The Bicycle Thief and Shoeshine, Vittorio De Sica's integral instruments in the Italian neorealist movement

- Rashomon, Kurosawa's samurai film that redefined the way time could exist in narrative films

- A number of films by Yasujiro Ozu, esp. Tokyo Story, which (in contrast to the popular samurai films) presented the opposite end of Japanese cinema's creative spectrum

- And Citizen Kane, whose reputation as the most innovative American film ever is probably deserved

I know I'm missing a ton.

Hey, by the way, may I take a brief moment to list the most influential movies to me in my movie-watching lifesyle: the movies that most shape my tastes, the movies that tend to have changed my perspective on movie-watching in the first place? If they're not necessarily my "favorites," they've done more in shaping my cinematic appreciation than any other movie (which is very nearly the same thing):

- Being There (Hal Ashby)

- The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale)

- Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks)

- Children of Paradise (Marcel Carne)

- The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola)

- Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot)

- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel)

- 8 1/2 (Fellini)

- The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut)

- Funny Games (Michael Haneke)

- Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville)

- Metropolis (Fritz Lang)

- Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati)

- The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)

- Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone)

- Repulsion (Roman Polanski)

- Safe (Todd Haynes)

- Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock)

- The Third Man (Carol Reed)

- 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)

- Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam)

- Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.08.2004 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
- The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola)



I just watched this film for the first time [loved it: [92]], but I wonder, in what ways is it influential? I know it's a very underseen film, so that's why I ask... is it in its inventive use of sound tecnniques? Its exploration of paranoia? I'd love to know.

matt header wrote:


- The Third Man (Carol Reed)


See? This again proves my point, as the cinematogrpaher was clearly influenced by German expressionism. As I said, the most influential films often tend to be those that have been greatly influenced by others. Although perhaps someone could prove me wrong...

Oh yes, and what films do you think it influenced?
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.08.2004 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not as familiar with film history as I'd like to be, but I think the single most influential film is probably GW Griffith's Birth of a Nation. The narrative techniques he used for that film were unique for their time, and yet have been used, essentially unchanged, as the standard for film narrative since then.

I totally agree with your appraisal of Psycho, Mr. Lime, and with your observation of Le Diaboliques?s precursory influence, but I'm not sure I agree with the assessment that Psycho ?spawned almost on its own the slasher genre.? It certainly helped set the groundwork in a large way. In the interim between Psycho and proper slashers, the common appearance of obvious Psycho-influenced ?knife-kill? movies, from ultra-cheapos like Schizoid to respectable ones like DePalma?s Dressed to Kill, helped to set up the principle of the melee weapon-wielding maniac and the body count. Movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre[i], [i]Black Christmas, and, most obviously of all, Halloween also helped to shape the slasher subgenre. In fact, I think that Halloween was the final word on the slasher formula before the advent of true slashers, which came into being three years later with the success of Friday the 13th. Since then, for better or worse (in my opinion, worse), F13 has had a nearly unshakable influence on American horror movies, reaching even beyond the slasher subgenre. I?ve been trying to get my hands on as much of the ?new wave? of Japanese horror movies as I can, and the aspect that struck me most about them (the aspect I like most about them) is their absolute departure from typical formula of American horror movies. American horror has been obsessed primarily with the notion of the ?body count.? The ?body count? formula requires a steady pile of corpses throughout the course of the film, whose narrative is peppered with several ?jumps? and ?fake-jumps? occurring at regular intervals every ten or fifteen minutes. Compare Tobe Hooper?s Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the 2003 remake. Hooper?s pre-F13 horror movie is most concerned with the establishment of atmosphere and a sense of dread. Jump scenes occur, but in irregular intervals, and, more importantly, in accord with the dictates of the plot. The post-F13 [/i]slasher[/i] remake, on the other hand, offers a fresh corpse, or at least a moment of graphic violence or gore, at very regular intervals, along with ?fake jumps,? i.e. a character is surprised by a non-threatening element like another character or a cat. (In fact, the 2003 TCM actually boasts a cat-fake-jump, with a ?possum filling in for the feline.) The fake-jump is a particular sloppy element in the body-count formula, since its set-up and execution is often extraneous to the main narrative. Such a comparison can be made between Ringu and the American remake The Ring. Ringu departs from the American post-F13 body count formula by offering a steadily escalating sense of dread, like Hooper?s TCM, with no fake jumps, and only a single real jump (Tomoko?s body in the closet) which is dictated by the requirements of the narrative, and a low immediate body count, also strictly dictated by the requirements of the narrative. The Ring, on the other hand, supplies a fairly steady string of fake jumps and semi-genuine jumps, an unnecessarily higher body count, and the appearance of the villain/monster much earlier in the film. The reworking of Ringu?s narrative is especially interesting in light of the fact that the movie was aimed specifically at teen audiences.

There are exceptions, of course. M. Night Shyalaman?s The Sixth Sense eschewed the body count formula altogether, and went on to be a major success. The Blair Witch Project found similar success, although the pre-release hype probably helped its amazing box office. However, it?s interesting to note how these two movies are generally regarded with contempt, or judged ?boring,? by teenage viewers, while Shyalaman?s puerile Signs, which offers more jumps, though, admittedly, ones in line with the plot, was generally more well-received by the same group. Note, too, that those western viewers who tend to seek out Asian horror tend to be older, normally in their mid-twenties and thirties (in comparison to the audience the movies are originally aimed at in their countries of origin -- teenage girls). This is perhaps because older viewers first encountered horror on TV by way of the classic Universal monster movies and the horror films of the 40s and 50s, while younger viewers first encountered horror by way of movies like Friday the 13th, The Evil Dead, and the later Halloween sequels (rooted firmly in the slasher mold)*, or later through Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. In other words, older viewers are used to the idea of atmospherics and applying imagination while watching a movie, while younger viewers require regular events, and tend to regard the main feature of horror not a palpable feeling of fear, but graphic death. This is, of course, a general observation I?ve made, and not meant to reflect all teenagers.

Sorry if this diverged from the topic a bit, but once I got on a roll I couldn?t stop.

*It?s interesting to note how many younger viewers prefer Halloween 4, H20 and even Halloween Resurrection to the original, which is, naturally, deemed ?boring.?
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PostPosted: 02.08.2004 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I put a sign up in my classroom that reads, " 'This story is boring' is the lazy person's way of saying 'I don't get it yet.' "

Eric
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PostPosted: 02.08.2004 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taking Matt's cue, here's a list of movies that have probably influenced my personal taste and sensibilities the most:

Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back (1977/80) -- These represent the first movies I was absolutely obsessed with. Star Wars is the movie that kicked my imagination into overdrive, and pretty much defined science fiction and the heroic epic for most of my life. Empire, on the other hand, is a much darker movie, and introduced to me the compelling notion that victory is not always the hero's due.

Alien (1979) -- Probably the second movie I was absolutely obsessed with. Its sense of impenetrable mystery and the fearful unknown still defines the horror genre for me. This is, for me, the most successfully Lovecraftian movie ever made, even if it isn?t directly based on his work.

Blade Runner (1982) -- The amazing visuals were unlike anything I?d ever seen, and the melancholy tone that blurred the standard good guy/bad guy formula shook my conceptions of both narrative and my ideas of morality, mortality, and the human condition (although I couldn?t have told you that at the time; I was, like, 13).

Eraserhead (1977), Videodrome (1983), Barton Fink (1991) -- All three movies helped to redefine my understanding of the use of symbol and visual metaphor as dynamic narrative devices, and of narrative progression in general.

The Maltese Falcon (1941) -- Simply my introduction to the narrative facets and aesthetics of film noir -- elements I tend to seek out in other movies nearly as actively as the elements of the horror film -- and, for me, the definition of the genre.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.09.2004 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


matt header wrote:

- The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola)



I just watched this film for the first time [loved it: [92]], but I wonder, in what ways is it influential? I know it's a very underseen film, so that's why I ask... is it in its inventive use of sound tecnniques? Its exploration of paranoia? I'd love to know.

matt header wrote:

- The Third Man (Carol Reed)

See? This again proves my point, as the cinematogrpaher was clearly influenced by German expressionism. As I said, the most influential films often tend to be those that have been greatly influenced by others. Although perhaps someone could prove me wrong...

Oh yes, and what films do you think it influenced?



Well, I listed The Third Man and The Conversation as films that were personally influential to me: movies that have shaped what kind of movies I like, the way I watch movies, the kind of movies I would want to make if I were a director. The first list I compiled was a (very incomplete) listing of movies I thought were monstrously influential socially, historically, and technologically: movies would be different without them.

The second list I compiled, which included The Third Man and The Conversation, are movies that are close to my heart. They have been integral in shaping my tastes and opinions of films in general. In relation to all of cinema, they owe some debts to other influential films - as you said, The Third Man echoes a lot of the shadowy intensity of German Expressionism, while The Conversation has traces of Blow-Up and Rear Window - but I remember watching them and thinking, wow, this, to me, is what a film is. If I had to choose, suspense may be my favorite film genre, and those two movies were more influential in that decision than perhaps any others: elegant but humorous, firmly rooted in suspense conventions but playing off of our expectations as well.
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PostPosted: 02.09.2004 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:
I just watched this film for the first time [loved it: [92]]


Please tell me you haven't fallen victim to the 100-point virus infecting so many otherwise rational Internet critics! Should we revisit the old thread about it?

http://www.flipsidemovies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=45

Eric
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PostPosted: 02.10.2004 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It might simply be easier for some people to get their minds around a larger point spread. Rating a movie, I suspect, is largely intuitive, and I suppose some find it easier to place a film on a smaller scale, whereas others like to give themselves room to shuffle minutiae. I'd argue that any point system is only a thumbnail sketch of the review it accompanies, and pretty useless on its own.
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PostPosted: 02.10.2004 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
The Third M?n wrote:
I just watched this film for the first time [loved it: [92]]


Please tell me you haven't fallen victim to the 100-point virus infecting so many otherwise rational Internet critics! Should we revisit the old thread about it?

Eric


Sorry. I have.
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iluv2viddyfilms
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PostPosted: 04.13.2005 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say Birth of a Nation for film technique, and Breathless for style.
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PostPosted: 04.18.2005 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I put a sign up in my classroom that reads, " 'This story is boring' is the lazy person's way of saying 'I don't get it yet.' "



Eric




So does that mean that I just didn't "get" Episode I?
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PostPosted: 04.18.2005 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monkeypox wrote:
beltmann wrote:
I put a sign up in my classroom that reads, " 'This story is boring' is the lazy person's way of saying 'I don't get it yet.' "



Eric




So does that mean that I just didn't "get" Episode I?


Well, my sign is intended to be provocative not perfect--kids are often far too willing to dismiss established classics on "boring" grounds without once even trying to recognize why they are considered interesting by so many "learned" readers. (They assume their reading skills are as developed as they will ever be, or ever need to be, and are therefore convinced their opinions are more astute than those of, say, Harold Bloom.) When talking with high school sophomores, I'm often reminded of something Nick Hornby said: "We are constantly reminded that some books are badly written, but we must also remember that some books are badly read."



We must also distinguish between distaste and boredom. For example, I didn't like Moby-Dick, but I was never bored by it--there's far too much to notice while reading to be bored. If I had felt bored, I would have assumed that the fault rested with me, not the book: What was I missing that so many others got? Not liking a book is one thing, but not liking it merely because you thought it was "boring" throws suspicion on how skillfully you read. For me, I always feel that if I haven't noticed what an artist is doing, then I haven't really read the book. I've merely looked at the words.



This of course applies only to (most) established works. I'm not sure Phantom Menace qualifies. Still, was it really only boredom you felt during Phantom Menace? I disliked the movie, too, but I was never bored. I was far too interested in noticing all the ways Lucas was mucking things up.



Eric
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PostPosted: 04.18.2005 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I was mainly just foolin', because I don't know that I find a whole lot of even bad film "boring," though I might consider certain auteur filmmakers "long-winded." People who liked their style would simply refer to it as "deliberate pacing." A sophomore in high school says "boring."
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PostPosted: 09.21.2005 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I?ve been trying to get my hands on as much of the ?new wave? of Japanese horror movies as I can, and the aspect that struck me most about them (the aspect I like most about them) is their absolute departure from typical formula of American horror movies.




Ringu's opening scene, with the two teenagers discussing scary stories that are going around is actually a friendly nod to American slasher movies, which frequently include a similar scene.



Many of the 'new wave' of Japanese horror directors are keen students of the American horror movie of the 70s and 80s, in particular Kiyoshi Kurosawa but also lesser-known people like Toshiharu Ikeda and Kazuo Komizu.
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