Friday 30 July 2021

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

Zero for Conduct (1933)
France’s Jean Vigo is, like American actor James Dean, a subject of eternal fascination for young students of film history due to the fact that a promising career was cut short by early death, freezing both men in youth forever. Like Dean, Vigo’s work was largely centered on youth and, though Vigo’s one feature, 1934’s L’Atalante, is widely acclaimed, his classic long short subject Zero For Conduct (tellingly subtitled “young monsters at college”) strikes the most vivid cord among the youthful.

Told in a Dadist-surrealist style, Zero concerns a group of boarding school boys who, quite simply, have had enough of the repressive teachers and administrators of the school and rebel in no uncertain terms. It was quite a revelation to the young generation of the 1960s, who rediscovered the film, and has been enshrined in the pantheon ever since.

La Grande Illusion (1937)
Jean Renoir had his work cut out for him being the son of one of France’s, and the world’s, greatest painters. He responded by becoming one of France’s, and the world’s, greatest film makers. Many of his films are masterpieces but, to a large number of historians and viewers, his greatest moment is La Grande Illusion (The Great Illusion).
The plot centers on three French soldiers, of differing ranks and civilian backgrounds, who are being held prisoners of war by the Germans during World War I. It’s also a deeper examination of what unites and separates people and why larger differences can lead to war, even though individuals can often find common ground. To this day, this is seen as one of the finest anti-war films, yet, to Renoir’s dismay, two years after its release the biggest war of them all broke out.

Olympia (1938)
Speak of the name of German director Leni Reifenstahl and watch the majority of knowledgeable film students react…and not in a good way. While she gets points as being one of the most prominent female directors in film’s history, and one of the very few in the classic era, she was the Nazi’s Third Reich’s favorite film maker (which she later, unconvincingly, claimed was against her will).
She had a tremendous visual sense and often used human beings as part of a larger pictorial pattern. She is best remembered for her infamous paean to Hitler and the Nazis, Triumph of the Will (1934), but her purest, most artistic achievement is Olympia.
This film was a state ordered recording of the 1936 Munich Olympics. Far more than a documentary, this picture exalts the athlete as she frames the various Olympians in highly stylized and deeply affecting ways. Today such an event would just be shown matter of factly on television but those broadcasts could never match the mythic quality of this film.


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