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Best Classic Short films ever made (10+1list)

Best Classic Short films ever made.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best Classic Short films ever made: According to many acclaimed filmmakers and critics short films are not merely the base of learning the grammars of filmmaking, but also a craft in itself!

It’s a challenge even for the most reputed directors to get the specific desired impact within the brief time limit; a short film has to be compact, gripping and yet meaningful.

And this list of classic shorts are probably the most innovative and thought provoking, undoubtedly the Best Classic Short films ever made in the history of Cinema!

10. The Red Balloon (1956)

The only colored short in this list, and also the only short film to win an Academy Award (for Best Screenplay) outside of the short film categories!

Directed by Albert Lamorisse, this magical short is about a little boy (Pascal Lamorisse, son of director Albert Lamorisse) and his unusual pet – a bright red-balloon!

The ballon of course has been interpreted in many symbolic ways but the sheer beauty of a red balloon floating around the beautiful streets of Paris is enough reason to watch this 34 min classic. 

9. One Week (1920)

A newly married couple (Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely) plans to built their own high-tech home but then someone must have played around with the how-to-built instructions. Hmmm ….

The house gets made but of course don’t expect any regular house for this couple.

Directed by Edward F. Cline and  Buster Keaton, this is a power pack 25 min dose of pure laughter and historic gags/stunts that surely will entertain us much more than just ‘one week’!

8. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962) 

Directed by Robert Enrico, this one is a period short film with the backdrop of Civil war, situated (as the name suggests) at the Owl Creek Bridge where a man is going to be hanged for mutiny.

Just as the execution was about to take place the rope breaks and the man escapes for his life, a desperate attempt to get reunited with his beloved wife. Will he be able to make it?  

This 28 min short without a single dialogue says a lot more than you can ever imagine!

7. Easy Street (1917) 

Directed and acted by Charles Chaplin, this one is an epic short film, probably one of Chaplin’s earliest short that did predict his potential to become one of the most successful man ever in the history of Film making! 

A tramp becomes a police officer and now he must fight it out with the biggest bully on the street! 

Along with Edna Purviance and Eric Campbell this 24min slap-stick comedy is as hilarious as it can get. 

6. Entr’acte (1924)

Intriguing is the word that directly comes to our mind as soon as we start watching this bizarre 22 min short film.

The innovative juxtaposition of images, the transitions, the brilliant camera angles (much ahead of it’s time) and overlaps, the element of speed incorporated along with the eccentric soundtrack in the background – directed by René Clair the film though difficult to interpret is still an enigma, a masterpiece, a rule-breaker.

One of the best classic surrealist short film ever made!

5. The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)

An intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage, an irritating husband and then we have a revolver that may not be empty anymore!

Directed by Germaine Dulac, this silent 26 min short is regarded as one of the first feminist movies ever made!

4. La Jetée (1962)

Paris in the aftermath of WWII, a montage of pictures that takes us through the unknown passages of time, memories that combines the past, the present and somehow the future as well.

Directed by Chris Marker, this film is an absolute beauty, and probably the best example of how still images along with a voiceover can tell a powerful story on it’s own.

A true classic!

(I couldn’t find the whole film in youtube. This is just the starting bit of the 28 min film)

3. A Trip to the Moon (1902)

One of the earliest known science fiction and also the first animated film ever attempted!

Taking Jules Verne‘s novel, “From the Earth to the Moon” as the source material, director by Georges Méliès made this unique short featuring a group of astronomers going on an expedition to the Moon!
This 13 min stylised classic will always be on every must watch short film list. 

Another short from the same directot Georges Méliès that is worth your time – The Voyage Across the Impossible (1904).

2. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Talking about surreality; eccentric, bizarre and often grotesque imagery – well, you have come to the right place.

A unique collaboration between Luis Buñuel (director) and Salvador Dalí (writer) which resulted to this short 16min classic that tops the list when it comes to the most disturbing shots ever compiled together to provoke the audience.

Another brilliant short that is a must watch from the same director Simon of the Desert (1965).

  1. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, this film is one of the most stylish classic short that portrays the possible dreams of a woman, a surreal look into her thoughts, her desires, her subconscious mind.  

Repetitive images, playing with shadows, jump cuts, experimental camera tricks and the eerie soundtrack – 14min of all these give enough scope for multiple interpretations, symbolisms and certain cryptic significances throughout the film.

Two other classic short films also from Director Maya Deren that are totally worth your time At Land (1944) and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946).

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. The Arrival of a Train (1896) 

Although considered to be among the first motion pictures in modern history but actually it was the first major public display of the ‘invention’ of film.

Directed by Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière (the Lumière Brothers), this 1 min historic film when exhibited for the first time at a Parisian café (Grand Café) on 28th December 1895, it is said that the first-night audience literally ran out of the café in fear of being run over by the “approaching” train!

Such is the power of Cinema!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com