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Saturday 23 January 2021

Home - Academic - Second: 3 Classic Movies Every Young Movie Buff Should See

4. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Another unjust victim of the rush of the late silent/early sound years is this much acclaimed version of the French Maid of Orleans’ trial and execution by the English during the Hundred Years War. Danish film maker Carl Dreyer (one of the great philosophical directors) clings to the truth of the event, using surviving transcripts of the trial for the courtroom scenes and staging her burning at the end with nerve-wracking verisimilitude.Two key ingredients also are Dreyer’s ground-breaking use of close-ups (using actors with no make-up) and the unforgettable performance of the actress known only professionally as Falconetti, in her only film performance. Rarely has history come more vividly to life on film.

5. Pandora’s Box (1928)

Making it a hat trick for late silents pushed out of the way for sound, Pandora’s Box was cut up and virtually thrown away and forgotten for decades. However interest in its vital director, Germany’s G.W. Pabst and its lovely, sensual and vividly stylish star, Hollywood actress Louise Brooks, brought the film roaring back to life.

Taken from two interrelated plays, even then long famous in Germany, the film tells the story of Lulu (Brooks), a young woman of mysterious origins who, just by being her amoral self, causes destruction to all of those in her orbit. Far from being antiques, the boldly honest film and lead performer are still very much alive for the modern viewer (this one is for the more mature adolescent at the earliest)

6. Vampyr (1932)

After The Passion of Joan of Arc flopped with all but the critics and discerning audiences, Car Dreyer didn’t manage to make a film until this Danish-German-French co-production…and saw it meet the same fate.

Taken (very loosely) from a novel by Irish Gothic writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the film (technically a talkie but nearly devoid of dialog and using sound sparingly), tells the very dreamlike tale of a young man travelling through a strange countryside and encountering a sinister doctor who is aiding an elderly female vampire corrupt and condemn a variety of helpless souls. The young man comes to the aid of a young woman whose sister has been infected by the evil.

In outline, this sounds like a cheap horror film, in reality it’s anything but and that gap has caused this film trouble over the years but those approaching it with a more open mind will experience one of the great moral fever dreams in film history.

 

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