Top 5 Films Taught in Film School and Why

1. The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, Russia, 1925)

This film has been widely studied and regarded as a propaganda masterpiece. The film looks at the historic event that took place in 1905, in which sailors form a mutiny against their Tsarist officers. The film is widely regarded for its unique montage editing and its ability to toy with the audience’s emotions. Eisenstein’s famous sequence occurs on the Odessa Steps, where the Tsar Officers massacre innocent civilians.

Eisenstein studied the Kuleshov Effect (a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot) of film making, and this heavily influenced the editing he used in this film. Eisenstein strategically placed images together with juxtaposition to cut between the scared civilians and the ruling officials. By cutting between the two Eisenstein further calls upon the emotion of the audience and creates a sense of suspense. This form of editing is considered to be a Rhythmic Montage in which the montage of clips follows a certain beat, giving the film a methodical impression.

Many filmmakers since Eisenstein have been influenced by his montage editing, and it’s easy to see his influence in the film world even to this day. For example, Alfred Hitchcock has become well known for a similar style of montage editing.

2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, Germany, 1920)

Not only is this film considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, but it’s also considered to be one of my most influential films in the horror genre. The film gave birth to a whole new style of film that had never been seen before.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari actually used painted sets to create shadows and depth directly into the sets and ensure an overall dark and expressionist look and feel. The films use of lighting and shadows reflect the psychology of the characters within the film, which is an idea that would continue to be used in German cinema and eventually spill over into the style of film noir.

3. Citizen Kane ( Welles, USA, 1943)

This film is one of the most widely studied at any film school or institution. While this film has been extremely controversial among audience members, there is definitely a lot to learn from watching it. This film was actually a major box office flop at its time, but now it is regarded as one of the most iconic cinematic films.

Welles orchestrated several techniques of classic film, and he definitely borrowed heavily from the style of German Expressionism. One of the most infamous things about this film is the nonlinear narrative structure. The narrative style of the movie shifts backwards and forwards in time pretty frequently. While this is a very common feature of modern film, for its time this was extremely unique and innovative.

The cinematography of this film was also very innovative for its time. Its deep focus photography made the foreground and background appear in focus and allowed for a lot of creative freedom. As well as the films’ iconic low-angle shots. This film has definitely been influential on Hollywood films and was extremely unique for its time.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, USA, 1968)

This is definitely the type of film that impacts each and every audience member in a unique and different way. Each is one of the reasons this film has been so widely talked about and popularized.

However, this film had a massive impact on the science- fiction genre of film. It steered the entire genre away from this ideology of “us Vs them,” which was so widely used in the traditional alien invasion films of the genre. It steered the genre into a totally new and innovative direction.

The film has also become regarded for its unique use of editing techniques, especially the idea of a match cut. It’s definitely easy to see the influence of this film on later films such as Alien, Star Wars, and several others.

5. Stagecoach (John Ford, USA, 1939)

This film was John Fords first sound western film, and it was revolutionary in almost every way possible. Not only did this film challenge the stereotypes of the genre, but it also rejecting several classical western conventions.

This film set the defining portrait for the American West in Hollywood. Until this film was made most western films were shot in a Hollywood studio with backdrops. However, the authentic location of this film being shot in Monument Valley Utah engrossed the audience into the authentic backdrop of the film. After this film, more and more western films were being shot on location.

This film is also known for its innovative combination of camera work, chase scenes and crazy stunts. While Indian battle sequences were a common feature of western films before this movie, the extensive chases scene and risky stunts of this film were extremely impressive and creative for its time. This film definitely changed and revolutionized the western genre as a whole.


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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) Review

Synopsis

Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) watches helplessly as his wife and child are murdered, by Union men led by Capt. Terrill (Bill McKinney). Seeking revenge, Wales joins the Confederate Army. He refuses to surrender when the war ends, but his fellow soldiers go to hand over their weapons — and are massacred by Terrill. Wales guns down some of Terrill’s men and flees to Texas, where he tries to make a new life for himself, but the bounty on his head endangers him and his new surrogate family.

Release date: June 26, 1976

(USA)Director: Clint Eastwood

Story by: Asa Earl Carter

Film series: The Outlaw Josey Wales

Screenplay: Philip Kaufman, Sonia Chernus

My Review

The short and sweet intro to the films conflict at its beginning gave me the instinct that this would be a phenomenal film. That instinct was not wrong in the slightest. This Western film showcases almost every “stereotype” of a Western film, and it does so in brilliant ways. The plot kept me interested into the film’s story, and the film is full of dynamic characters that come to life on screen.

The editing in this film surprised me in a positive way. I noticed lots of cross dissolves in the battle scenes, and this added an interesting feel and look to the film. It helped the action new and exciting and avoided becoming monotonous. The limited use of music was something that stood out to me in the films editing. There are a lot of films whose musical score completely adds to the emotion and intensity that the audience feels. However, in with a lack of music in this film the filmmakers still excelled at investing the audience into its story.

As a character Josey Wales was extremely intriguing and mysterious. Right from the beginning of the film Josey gains the sympathy of his audience members. Throughout the rest of the film the audience witnesses Josey on a journey of revenge and self growth. Clint Eastwood brought the character to life and made it his own.

I was expecting the whole film to focus primarily on the conflict of revenge in its plot. However, the plot to this film was way more complex than that, and the intertwining of several plots and stories added a lot to this film. While this film had many of the Western film traits, it showcased them in new and innovative ways. For example, unlike most Western films, the Native Americans in this film are not the bad guys. In fact, the film helps she’s some sympathy on the heartbreak they endured.

My Rating

8.5 out of 10


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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Review (1969)

Synopsis

The true story of fast-draws and wild rides, battles with posses, train and bank robberies, a torrid love affair and a new lease on outlaw life in far away Bolivia. It is also a character study of a remarkable friendship between Butch – possibly the most likeable outlaw in frontier history – and his closest associate, the fabled, ever-dangerous Sundance Kid.

Release date: September 23, 1969

(USA)Director: George Roy Hill

Screenplay: William Goldman

Music composed by: Burt Bacharach

My Review

This film is a creative and entertaining combination of a spaghetti western and comedy while still paying homage to the classic western drama. This film is really unique, especially for its time, and I greatly enjoyed watching it. The plot structure was very well thought out and carefully orchestrated, and the soundtrack of this film was simply amazing. The color grading and camera work was incredible to watch, and although the film is very heavily dialogue based the filmmakers did a good job of keeping the story entertaining and captivating.

As soon as the old film reel clips began rolling at the beginning of the film it became apparent that this film was trying to honor the look and feel of an old western. As the first scene of the movie began to play I was blown away by the black and white color grading, and loved every second of it. However, when the next scene changed to color I found myself a little disappointing. I understand that the film was trying to transition the old western look into modern day, but the lighting and camera work of the first scene was just so jaw dropping.

Don’t get me wrong the rest of the film is shot beautifully, and I love that the cinematography kept long continuous shots using tracking, zoom, and pan instead of overusing quick cuts. I noticed this especially with the dialogue scenes. The only times I noticed lots of quick cuts between shots was during exposition shots.

This film is definitely heavily dialogue based and it reminded me a lot of a Tarantino and Scorsese film in that retrospect. I know lots of people who comment saying that this makes the film boring and lagging at times. However, I didn’t find this to be true with this film. The filmmakers balanced the perfect amount of comedy, action, and dialogue to keep the film entertaining and exciting to watch.

My Rating

7.2/ 10

I would definitely watch this film again, and I recommend everyone give it a watch at least once. Especially if your a fan of the western genre and comedy’s.


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

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