Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fave films: 1920s

It's time for some more lists. Films: in chronological order, initially by decade, then when we get into my era, by half-decade. I'm going to skip 1895-1920. Apart from Méliés, it was all pretty unsophisticated stuff until the 1910s when Charlie Chaplin, DW Griffith, Mary Pickford and Abel Gance entered the fray. I have a soft spot for Chaplin having produced a small exhibition on his life 20-odd years ago and still love The Immigrant. 

But let's move on to the 1920s, when things got more interesting. Here are my top 15:

- The Cabinet of Dr Kaligari (Wiene)
- The Kid or The Gold Rush - can't decide (Chaplin)
- Way Down East (Griffith)
- Haxan (Christensen)
- The Thief of Baghdad (Fairbanks)
- Nanook of the North (Flaherty)
- Safety Last (Lloyd)
- Battleship Potemkine (Eisenstein)
The General (Keaton)
- Metropolis (Lang)
- The Unknown (Browning)
- Sunrise (FW Murnau)
- Pandora's Box (Pabst)
- Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel/Dali)
- Blackmail (Hitchcock)

If I'm honest, I've probably only seen around 30 films total from the decade but most of these have been great. Most of the above list is pretty obvious, although I'm surprised by the lack of Hollywood and the heavy (er, pretentious?) lean towards Europe. 

I could have added Cecil B De Mille's The Ten Commandments; Murnau's Nosferatu and Faust; Rene Clair's dadaist Entr'acte or Germaine Dulac's surrealist The Seashell and the Clergyman; Ruttman's  Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (seen just a few weeks ago), Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse; the first talkie,The Jazz Singer; Lillian Gish in The Wind; Asquith's Underground; Hitchcock's earlier Lodger; Vertov's The Man with a Movie Camera; Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc; or any number of early Garbo films. And if I was a proper film buff, I'd have to add Abel Gance's Napoleon, but actually I've never seen it.

I'd say the majority were seen in either a cinema or on DVD, but also a fair few in concert halls with new scores played live: eg John Cale (The Unknown) on the South Bank in London, Michael Nyman (The Man with a Movie Camera) in Tokyo, FM3 (...Berlin) in Beijing, etc.

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