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I'm looking for a new avenue of exploration in my life right now, and this is one I often think about. I would like to know what movies are the most essential that I absolutely have to watch. I know there are some I haven't seen, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Citizen Kane. So I plan to watch those two very soon. I'd welcome others to explore the subject with me, but for myself personally I don't just want nominations. If you have some movies that you consider essential must-watches, then please also explain why. It doesn't have to be a long explanation, but I may want to discuss individual movies before committing to them. I am open to any type of film, any genre, and from any part of the world, and from any era.

The Silent Film Era is one I've barely touched, but among the essentials I have seen:
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Metropolis
Nosferatu

For silent films I'm very interested in hearing what people think are the most essential overall, but in particular the most essential Buster Keaton film and Charlie Chaplain film. For Chaplain I was considering The Great Dictator.

I was also considering Faust (1926). I started it a couple of years ago, but didn't get very far because I just wasn't in the mood, but I plan to revisit it.

I also haven't touched much on the 30's. I've seen some stuff from the 40's and 50's, but I could certainly use more from those eras.

One area I'm especially interested in exploring more is Russian cinema. The first on my list to watch among Russian cinema is The Color of Pomegranates. I've already seen every Tarkovsky, and so far he is in my opinion the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. Mikhail Kalatozov is also one of the greats, and of his I've seen Letter Never Sent and The Cranes Are Flying, so do let me know if there's another one of his films worth championing.

I think I'll leave it at that for now, but there's so much more I want to talk about.



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For Russian cinema Aleksei German seems another good choice, especially Hard to be a God and Khrustalyov, My Car!, certainly very unique cinema like Tarkovsky you won't get from anyone else.

Crossing between silent and 30's cinema I would strongly recommend Mizoguchi's The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, to me that film feels like the link between the silent era and the more modern art scene like Tarkovsky, is quite amazing to see something made before WW2 that feels so modern.



... For Chaplain I was considering The Great Dictator...
It's worth watching for the humanity of Chaplin. Especially at the end when his character breaks the fourth wall and makes an impassioned plea to the world to come to it's senses. But if you don't have a temporal sense of things, but live only in the present, then The Great Dictator probably won't resonate with you.



you can't go wrong with chaplin and keaton so definitely watch all of those, but your instinct to watch faust was also correct. i just got into murnau for the pre-30s list and it was a revelation. faust and sunrise both rip and the last laugh is his best one, i'd start with that one and go from there (nosferatu is just ok). cinema could've ended when murnau died and it would've had a pretty solid run.
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For Russian cinema Aleksei German seems another good choice, especially Hard to be a God and Khrustalyov, My Car!, certainly very unique cinema like Tarkovsky you won't get from anyone else.
Thank you. This is exactly the kind of stuff I want to be made aware of. Both of those look magnificent.

Crossing between silent and 30's cinema I would strongly recommend Mizoguchi's The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, to me that film feels like the link between the silent era and the more modern art scene like Tarkovsky, is quite amazing to see something made before WW2 that feels so modern.
It's a little ironic that you mention Mizoguchi, because I was literally typing him, Ozu, and Kurasawa when I ran out of time and had to cut my post short. And that happens to be one of the Mizoguchi films I haven't yet seen. He is a director who is so magnificent that I want to watch every single one of his films. Even though I do think Ozu is the greatest Japanese filmmaker, I do find Mizoguchi's films more emotionally gripping and to be better stories. The reason I think Ozu is greater is because of his technical mastery and pioneering of the medium, but Mizoguchi tells more captivating stories.


you can't go wrong with chaplin and keaton so definitely watch all of those, but your instinct to watch faust was also correct. i just got into murnau for the pre-30s list and it was a revelation. faust and sunrise both rip and the last laugh is his best one, i'd start with that one and go from there (nosferatu is just ok). cinema could've ended when murnau died and it would've had a pretty solid run.
You know, it's funny... I actually found Nosferatu boring. I guess in it's time it was such a powerful portrayal of a vampire, but didn't quite stand the test of time. Still a great movie, but not among the greatest. And thank you for the compliment about my intuition. I hope this thread will be fruitful, not only for myself but for the whole MoFo community.

I actually agree.



Roger Eberts Great Films list is a great place to start. Covers many genres and all decades.

Ebert's list is more for recommendations not really "essentials"


http://www.films101.com/years.htm


The red five star films are essential and you can go year by year



It's worth watching for the humanity of Chaplin. Especially at the end when his character breaks the fourth wall and makes an impassioned plea to the world to come to it's senses. But if you don't have a temporal sense of things, but live only in the present, then The Great Dictator probably won't resonate with you.
Well, for the sake of the topic I'm really just wondering if there is a Chaplin film that has a stronger argument for being a more essential watch or if The Great Dictator is arguably his best film. Subjective elements like how I'll be able to resonate with it aren't a factor for me (or at least I try to eliminate these kind of barriers as much as I can). I am interested in personal growth, expanding my mind, developing new tastes, and learning to appreciate art as much as I possibly can. This isn't just a out me either. I want this to be just as much for everyone else.



http://www.films101.com/years.htm


The red five star films are essential and you can go year by year
I clicked on a random year, which just happened to be 1981. I noticed Raiders of the Lost Ark was red, but Das Boot wasn't. So for me the first impression is that the "reds" are a complete miss, but great resource none the less. Thank you. I will use this resource.



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Per your actual specifications, some recommendations I'd make would include Dead Man's Letters, Bondarchuk's War and Peace, and The Phantom Carriage.



I clicked on a random year, which just happened to be 1981. I noticed Raiders of the Lost Ark was red, but Das Boot wasn't. So for me the first impression is that the "reds" are a complete miss, but great resource none the less. Thank you. I will use this resource.

So that year they gave five stars to



Raiders of the Lost Ark
Chariots of Fire
Reds
Das Boot
Pixote


All of those are fine films worthy of five stars but which of those is essential must watch to me that's clearly Raiders of the Lost Ark



Per your actual specifications, some recommendations I'd make would include Dead Man's Letters, Bondarchuk's War and Peace, and The Phantom Carriage.
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I'm looking for a new avenue of exploration in my life right now, and this is one I often think about. I would like to know what movies are the most essential that I absolutely have to watch. I know there are some I haven't seen, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Citizen Kane. So I plan to watch those two very soon. I'd welcome others to explore the subject with me, but for myself personally I don't just want nominations. If you have some movies that you consider essential must-watches, then please also explain why. It doesn't have to be a long explanation, but I may want to discuss individual movies before committing to them. I am open to any type of film, any genre, and from any part of the world, and from any era.

The Silent Film Era is one I've barely touched, but among the essentials I have seen:
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Metropolis
Nosferatu

For silent films I'm very interested in hearing what people think are the most essential overall, but in particular the most essential Buster Keaton film and Charlie Chaplain film. For Chaplain I was considering The Great Dictator.

I was also considering Faust (1926). I started it a couple of years ago, but didn't get very far because I just wasn't in the mood, but I plan to revisit it.

I also haven't touched much on the 30's. I've seen some stuff from the 40's and 50's, but I could certainly use more from those eras.

One area I'm especially interested in exploring more is Russian cinema. The first on my list to watch among Russian cinema is The Color of Pomegranates. I've already seen every Tarkovsky, and so far he is in my opinion the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. Mikhail Kalatozov is also one of the greats, and of his I've seen Letter Never Sent and The Cranes Are Flying, so do let me know if there's another one of his films worth championing.

I think I'll leave it at that for now, but there's so much more I want to talk about.

You gotta see "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"


As for Russian, check out "The Ascent" (1977). I gave "The Cranes Are Flying" a 10/10



Roger Eberts Great Films list is a great place to start. Covers many genres and all decades.

Ebert's list is more for recommendations not really "essentials"


http://www.films101.com/years.htm


The red five star films are essential and you can go year by year
Isn’t that really semantics?
Afterall, not everyone will agree on “essentials” and almost everything suggested will be recommended anyways.
Regardless , his list of Great Films will cover both in any case



Well, for the sake of the topic I'm really just wondering if there is a Chaplin film that has a stronger argument for being a more essential watch or if The Great Dictator is arguably his best film. Subjective elements like how I'll be able to resonate with it aren't a factor for me (or at least I try to eliminate these kind of barriers as much as I can). I am interested in personal growth, expanding my mind, developing new tastes, and learning to appreciate art as much as I possibly can. This isn't just a out me either. I want this to be just as much for everyone else.
I'm guessing the Chaplin film that would be most impressive for most people would be City Lights.



This isn't just a out me either.
It took me a minute to realise what I was trying to say here. I blame my cell phone.

I'm guessing the Chaplin film that would be most impressive for most people would be City Lights.
City Lights, yes, that is a good point. Okay, I'll watch both.



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Citizen Kane is an essential watch just for the idea of the frame and visual grammar. I think you are way ahead of the pack when you realize you are looking at the story through the director’s eyes and they are carefully choosing what elements to focus onin great films, everything has been framed or placed within the frame for a reason.
When they are deciding the course of Kane’s entire life in the kitchen, he is framed through a window as just a boy playing in the snow. They make him spend the next 15 years learning how to take of his money, first stop is boarding school. The deep focus reveals the relationships, when someone is trying to connect with Kane; he will either walk to the front of the frame becoming huge and visually important or walk to the back of the room becoming small and insignificant.

Keaton: The goat, Our Hospitality, Steamboat Bill, Jr. Keaton has a very strict definition of what his screen persona can and cannot do and his characters are always contained in that fictional world.

Chaplin: City lights, The Gold Rush, Modern times.

Russian films? Kalatozov’s I am Cuba is pretty good. Vertov’s The Man With a Movie Camera is also worth a look.

In addition to watching films you should begin to keep a cinema notebook and after each film take a moment to jot down a few observations along the lines of: I didn’t like this film because . . . or I loved this film because . . . after a couple of years you will become embarrassing articulate about discussing films.




Thank you. This is exactly the kind of stuff I want to be made aware of. Both of those look magnificent.
I mean in some respects there the anti Tarkovsky, more akin to something like Marketa Lazarova. Long takes still but focused on a hash confined view rather than a wider bueiftul expansive one.

It's a little ironic that you mention Mizoguchi, because I was literally typing him, Ozu, and Kurasawa when I ran out of time and had to cut my post short. And that happens to be one of the Mizoguchi films I haven't yet seen. He is a director who is so magnificent that I want to watch every single one of his films. Even though I do think Ozu is the greatest Japanese filmmaker, I do find Mizoguchi's films more emotionally gripping and to be better stories. The reason I think Ozu is greater is because of his technical mastery and pioneering of the medium, but Mizoguchi tells more captivating stories.
Quality wise it isn't perfect but its probably the most strongly Mizoguchi ever committed to his style of long takes and subtle physical performances. Actually makes for a very good comparison to Ozu given how similar the story(drama in a acting troupe) and setting(traditional Japanese architecture) is to Floating Weeds. Ozu with his locked camera position and very angular compositions and Mizoguchi with his fluid roving long takes.

Drama wise I'd say Ozu is the "smarter" of the two, his films play on detailed social issues more and have a lot of wit to them. Mizoguchi is the more heartfelt(and apologetic for his own past treatment of women?) for me though and you could probably argue this film is his most autobiographical work, I do think he's clearly the strongest influence on Tarkovsky, moreso than Bergman or Bresson and indeed on the whole movement of slow atmospheric art cinema.