Must-Sees: August 2011

My five recommendations for this month all come from the earliest years of cinema.  Typical moviegoers make it a point to avoid silent films because they assume that they will be hopelessly boring without dialogue.  Film buffs will have seen these titles, but if you are among the group of skeptics, here are five movies to consider.  They can all be watched on Netflix instant:

Metropolis (1927)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most expensive silent film ever made involves huge sets, captivating storytelling, and fantastic futuristic vision.  The plot of Metropolis incorporates an underground factory, rebellious workers, and a robot that looks a lot like an early prototype of Star Wars‘ C3-PO.  This is the grandfather of The Matrix, Dark City, Blade Runner, and Alien, so any science fiction fan interested in the roots of the genre should not miss Lang’s masterpiece.

The General (1927)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone knows of Charlie Chaplin, but few know of his equal, Buster Keaton.  Chaplin and Keaton were the two best film comedians of their day.  However, for years, Keaton’s movies were lost.  After being rediscovered in the 1960s, only a few years before the actor’s death, Keaton was hailed a master of his art.  The General is his best film.  It is very funny, exciting, and fast-paced, making for the perfect hour-long adventure movie.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only is this flawless tragedy one of the greatest silent films, it is also one of the greatest films, period.  It gets its power from the strong leading performances as well as director Dreyer’s straightforward storytelling and innovative close-ups.  Emotionally, it is nearly overwhelming, ensuring that viewers will never forget it.  The Passion of Joan of Arc is perfect in every aspect.

Nosferatu (1922)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This very well may be the best movie made about vampires.  Even ninety years after Nosferatu‘s release, it still is a genuinely chilling experience.  F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece of horror was the first among many films to explore the blood-sucking creatures, so any fan of Twilight owes a lot to this movie.  Unlike the better known Dracula (1933), Nosferatu will not be received as corny by any audience.

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the 1940s and 1950s, Sergei Einstein’s Battleship Potemkin was considered the world’s greatest film by the most respected critics and filmmakers.  Today, few would agree, but this is nonetheless, a great movie.  It moves at a great pace, painting a portrait of merciless tyranny and a search for freedom.  The result is inspiring, and ends up speaking to viewers in a way that only silent films can.

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