Top Ten Thursdays: Silent Films

There is something ethereal and unexplainable about silent films.  Most of them are nearly a hundred years old and still manage to captivate audiences with their visual excellence and solid narrative foundations.  I claim to be no expert on the rather wide array of silent films made, but nonetheless hope to offer you a set of ten films that I think are well worth your time.

10.) Arrival At The Train Station (1896)

The Lumiere Brothers brief shot of a train arriving was so intense that many people ran out of the theater concerned for their safety as a train came barreling towards them.  Arrival At The Train Station is also one of the first films ever made.

9.) Modern Times (1936)

While this Chaplin masterpiece does have a musical interlude at the end, it is a silent film at heart.  Furthermore, this film has become an icon to both cinematographers and graphic designers the world over.

8.) Man With The Movie Camera (1929)

Vertov's experiment film introduced the world to the style of Soviet editing, which emphasized the relationship between two images as opposed to how a certain image related to the narrative arc, a process that forever changed linear filmmaking.

7.) Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang's three hour sci-fi epic packs more special effects wizardry than many films can even image to today.

6.) Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Do not plan to sleep after watching this film, because I promise that it will haunt your dreams.

5.) Dog Star Man (1962)

Undeniably, the most unconventional choice on this list, Stan Brakhage's Dog Star Man is a series of oneiric images that, when composed together, create a deep questioning of man's purpose on earth.

4.) Body and Soul (1925) 

Oscar Micheaux and Paul Robeson combine together to create a masterpiece in silent cinema, which has been overlooked for decades because of a tragic lack of knowledge in terms of African-American cinema.

3.) Un Chien Andalou (1929)

I have mentioned this on a top ten list before and  only want to restate how powerful it is for being a relatively short film.

2.)  Brand Upon The Brain! (2006)

While Brand Upon The Brain! is the most recently made of the films on my list, Guy Madden, nonetheless, manages to create a film that appears to perfectly fit into the style of early twentieth century filmmaking, complete with the underlying psychosexual tension.

1.) Sherlock Jr. (1924)

I picked this solely for the scene in the movie theater, which still mesmerizes me to this day.

Honorable Mention

A Trip To The Moon (1902)
Broken Blossoms (1919)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Nosferatu (1922)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)

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