Thursday, March 22, 2012

25 Most Original Films of All Time

PaperStreetCinema posted the top 25 most original movies of all time. The list (below) suggests that there's some overlap between "original" and "influential." I think it's easier to measure the latter but more difficult to measure the former. "Influential" basically means that the movie in question incorportaed stylistic features that later repeatedly showed up in later films. You could also measure "influential" by reading interviews with directors and getting a rough estimate of how many times directors tend to invoke particular movies. "Original" is a different matter. It's really about creating new idioms, new languages of film.

Here is PaperStreetCinema's list. My comments are in red.

1. Citizen Kane (Welles)
1. Birth of a Nation (Griffith) --Tied with Citizen Kane. Every movie made since Griffith and Welles has been inextricably influenced by both in equal measure. No film since has added much more to the medium than what's in these two. They are cinema's most basic building blocks.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
This would have been my number 1.
4. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
5. Pulp Fiction (Tarentino) --The most groundbreaking screenplay/dialogue of all time.
6. Star Wars (Lucas)
Influential or original? I tend to think more influential. Star Wars inaugurated the era of big budget special effects sci-fi/fantasy popcorn blockbusters. But was it original? Star Wars took bits and pieces of everything from Greek tragedies Hindu mythology, cowboys-and-Indians movies, the Bible, Flash Gordon, and Freud, added some operatic overtones, and put the whole thing in space. Maybe Lucas' genius was to mix all of this stuff into a greater whole?
7. Fantasia (Disney)
8. Rashomon (Kurosawa)
Yes, for sure.
9. Jaws (Spielberg) --one of my favorite films but I would argue that Spielberg ruined Hollywood by creating the "event movie" phenomenon (Lucas shares the blame too).
This is definitely original. I think the modern special effects thriller was born here.
10. Toy Story (Lassiter)
Good call.
11. Die Hard (McTiernan) --yes, really.
12. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (Wiene)
13. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
14. The Last Laugh (Murnau)
15. Blade Runner (Scott)
Yes, most definitely.
16. Cleopatra (Mankiewicz) --Groundbreaking in the sense that it single-handedly ended the classic Hollywood generation.
Again, are we talking landmark or original?
17. Night of the Living Dead (Romero) The first significant independent film.
Probably my number 2.
18. Batman (Burton)
19. A Trip to the Moon (Méliès)
Yes, absolutely.
20. Psycho (Hitchcock)
21. Stagecoach (Ford)
22. Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel/Dali)
23. Metropolis (Lang)
Again, essential in the "original" category.
24. Halloween (Carpenter)
25. The Blair Witch Project (Myrick/Sanchez)
I'm not a fan of this movie but I can see this.

Others for consideration: Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick) for its ground-breaking combination of satire, apocalypse, realism, and alternate reality. Also: Alien (Scott) for its original contribution of the alien archetype, the class warfare on the ship, and grunt protagonists, etc.. Can any other sci-fi movie ever claim such originality? Other possible candidates: Manhattan and/or Annie Hall (for its combination of comedy and meta dialogue with the audience). Also The Player (Altman)? Russian Ark (Sokurov)? Rope (Hitchcock)?


Anonymous said...

Monty python s 'Life of Brian'ia a classic!

spaceman said...

Totally awesome pick! I love that movie!