Tag Archives: Charles Chaplin

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

Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals (10+1list)

Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

In the midst of the endless dialogues, song sequences and background music we shouldn’t forget that Cinema is primarily a visual medium of story telling.  

As Alfred Hitchcock once pointed out:

‘If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.’

Alfonso Cuarón in an interview for his film Gravity did mention:

‘I think much of mainstream cinema are films that you can watch with your eyes closed. You enter the cinema, buy your popcorn, sit down, close your eyes, start eating your popcorn the movie begins and the movie ends you didn’t miss one thing because they told you everything. As opposed to you experiencing the film and seeing visual information.’

But believe it or not, in the earlier days of Cinema the directors had no choice but to tell their stories visually (sound wasn’t available due to some unavoidable technological deficiencies).

And yet, what marvelous films they made; the content and the visuals were so empowering that dialogues seemed redundant and pointless.

Well, here is a list of some of the best classic silent films ever made in the history of Cinema.

1. Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

FIlm trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzNL5JRTI6I

Intolerance-posterObviously D.W. Griffith is more famous for his film The Birth of a Nation but this particular film is probably his best work.

A blend of four stories, set in four different historical eras – French, Babylonian, Judean and Modern; tied together thematically by the subject of “intolerance”. 

At the time, it was the most expensive film but unfortunately not a commercial success.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Birth of a Nation (1915), Way Down East (1920) and Orphans of the Storm (1921).

2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAtpxqajFak

Directed by cabinet-of-dr-caligari-posterRobert Wiene, probably the first ever horror film (made before “horror” was a designated genre).  

The sets were made out of paper and the shadows were painted on the walls – German expressionism at it’s best.

If you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘somnambulist’ and if you are a fan of serial killer mysteries – this is a must watch for you.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Crime and Punishment (1923) and The Hands of Orlac (1924).

3. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS5kzTbNKjs

Potemkin-poster

Voted as the 11th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

The sailors revolt against injustice which leads to a brutal police massacre (the famous Odessa steps sequence).

The genius of Russian director Sergei M. Eisenstein is best showcased in this particular film – a true masterpiece.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Strike (1925), October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (1928) and Old and New (1929).

4. The Big Parade (1925)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_-BvxzdOr4

Big-parade-poster

The highest grossing silent film of all time, it made $22 million during its worldwide release!

The first ever ‘war film’ of such epic scale, King Vidor directed this unique film portraying the horrors of war and the effect it caused on young soldiers.

And then there was the love story between an American soldier and a French girl – a perfect blend of war, romance and a bit of comedy too.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Wild Oranges (1924), Show People (1928) and The Crowd (1928).

5. The General (1926)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99TdN8W6EAA

general-poster

More of an action film with good doses of Buster Keaton’s straight faced comedy.

A man almost single-handedly spoils a train-highjack plan and saves his girlfriend too!

Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, the film is a fast paced powerhouse of entertainment, physical comedy at it’s best. 

Other notable silent films made by the Buster Keaton: Sherlock Jr. (1924)The Navigator (1924), Seven Chances (1925) and Go West (1925).

6. Metropolis (1927)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSExdX0tds4

metropolis-poster

The film takes place in 2026 – the first ever SIFi movie and an inspiration to all the futuristic films yet to be made.

Most expensive film of the time, Fritz Lang took a year and a half to shoot and due to it’s commercial failure the production house UFA (Universum Film) went bankrupt.   

A cinematic brilliance, the best of German expressionism.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924), Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) and Spies (1928).

7. Sunrise (1927)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTID4ZVy6OE

sunrise-poster

‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’ is voted as the 5th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

An unique love story and a perfect cinematic experience – often regarded as the best silent film ever.

Directed by the famous German director F.W. Murnau the film is indeed the most emotional and captivating films i have ever seen. 

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Nosferatu (1922), The Last Laugh (1924) and Faust (1926).

8. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQj_3AY-E1g

passion-of-joan-of-arc-poster1

Voted as the 9th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

This film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer is a bible for portraying emotions and expressions with Close-Up shots.

Maria Falconetti, her performance as Joan od Arc is considered by many critics as the single greatest performance ever put on film.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Leaves Out of the Book of Satan (1920), Master of the House (1925) and Vampyr (1932).

9. The Wind (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Un8SBnjY4

wind-poster

A young girl comes to stay with her cousin in the west but the weather and the people were too rough for her to handle.

Directed by Victor Sjöström and superb performance by Lillian Gish, this one is undoubtedly the best silent western film ever.

The high-velocity wind was created by the propellers of eight aircraft stationed on location at Mojave Desert (where the film was shot).

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Outlaw and His Wife (1918), The Phantom Carriage (1921) and He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

10. City Lights (1931)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_W1tOngo-w

city-lights-poster

A tramp who falls in love with a blind flower-girl – The ultimate Romantic Comedy ever.

Favorite film of Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley KubrickWoody Allen, and even Charles Chaplin himself considered this film to be his best. 

It was a silent film made during the sound era and still was a huge success.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925), The Circus (1926) and Modern Times (1936).

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

+1. Nanook of the North (1922)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN1qwowbXR4

Nanook-of-the-North-poster

Voted as the 7th greatest documentary of all time in 2014 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

Probably the first proper documentary shot, director Robert J. Flaherty followed Nanook and his family in the freezing Arctics for a year to achieve this feat.  

A silent documentary made with great aesthetics and intimacy – an inspiration to all the travel/cultural documentaries made till date.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Man of Aran (1934) and Louisiana Story (1948).

And now a few other legendary silent films that are definitely worth mentioning:

Director Louis Bunuel‘s surrealistic short film Un Chien Andalou (1929), Edward Sedgwick‘s epic comedy The Cameraman (1928), Henry King‘s revenge saga Tol’able David (1921), Clarence Brown‘s film about love and friendship Flesh and the Devil (1926), Georg Wilhelm Pabst‘s take on lust and erotism Pandora’s Box (1929) and a perfect love triangle Wings (1927) directed by William A. Wellman.