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The most beautiful movie ever made


slaytonf
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Color films immediately come to mind.  Michael Powell's The Red Shoes, or Black Narcissus; or Carroll Ballard's The Black Stallion.  I like Bertolucci's way with light and fabric and grand spaces in The Last Emperor.  But to my mind the most beautiful movie ever made is Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, on Saturday night, as part of The Essentials.  There are a number of things that make it so.  The cinematography is by Henri Alekan, who also did work on Roman Holiday, and Wings of Desire, among others.

 

Though not apparent, the acting is a great contribution to the movie's beauty.  Most movies that are based on tales, or history have a mechanical feel to them, that the actors are simply going through well-known motions re-telling the story.  The successful ones are those that make it seem the story is happening right then, that the actors are not following a script, but are giving life to characters that make the story happen.  This is the way it is in Beauty and the Beast.

 

Even without computer graphics, Cocteau creates a magical and unsettling world, anthropomorphizing not only the beasts, but the hardware and stones of the castle.  He demonstrates it is not technology that makes for a great film.  It is creativity and imagination.

 

The extra element I think Beauty and the Beast has that puts it above other movies, is the way Cocteau juxtaposes the magical and unreal world of the Beast with the sober hard reality of the Beauty.  The contrast gives them both an extra energy.  The best analogy I can think of to describe it is how complementary colors interact.  The eyes and brain struggling to reconcile the two create a three dimensional and vibrant image.  Similarly, the eye and the brain struggling to reconcile the magical and the real in Beauty and the Beast gives it an extra vibrance and dimensionality other films lack.

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Saawariya (2007) is the most beautifully lush movie which I have watched in many years. The lighting and color choices make the impoverished setting surreal. Mists concentrate our focus on the characters. I believe this is one of those movies which must be watched many times because it is not possible to realize the full effect of its many wonderful aspects.

 

I believe that it may seem odd that I feel that: Forbidden Planet (1956) is a beautiful movie. The landscape paintings used as backdrops are wonderful and truly take me to a different world. I find even the mechanicals of the technology have a beauty of their own.

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The Lord of the Rings trilogy because of the mesmerizing epic New Zealand scenery is truly beautiful to behold.  I also cast a vote to The Red Shoes as being one of the most beautiful as well.  2001: A Space Odyssey is also gorgeous to behold backgrounded by the amazing music.  A visual experience of A+ magnitude as are all three in my short list.

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At the risk of being laughed at forever, I'd nominate The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as the most "beautiful" movie I've ever seen.  Of course the scenery is unremarkable, but with the singing, the poignancy of the plot, and the ethereal loveliness of Catherine Deneuve, the entire film just kind of floats on a dream.  It's kind of ironic, since musicals are just about my least favorite genre, but this one is a major exception.

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The most scene by scene beautiful film I ever saw, is THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD.  Greatly diminished on home video, compared to the 70MM release, but still fairly incredible.  Virtually every single shot, could double as a painting.  I also find THE SOUND OF MUSIC an incredibly beautiful film.

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   It's Lawrence of Arabia for me as well. I managed to see the restored version last year at a Cinemark theater and it was glorious. Some of the desert scenes were so bright that I wanted to wear sunglasses.

 

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Ah, you mean visually. Well, I could agree with John about THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD.  Cinematically, it's simply gorgeous.  I could throw in some B&W John Ford westerns.  I don't know who his cameraman was, but his discerning use of the yellow filter gave those films a distinctive look.  I could throw in GRAPES OF WRATH for B&W film work.

 

There was an early Tom Selleck movie called HIGH ROAD TO CHINA that featured many scenes of mainland China wilderness, but that's too easy.  China's wilderness is so picturesque that one needs only to point and shoot.

 

AND yes, I'd also have to give a "bobble-headed" nod to MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM for dazzling B&W cinematography.

 

Sepiatone

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Practically anything in Technicolor made in the 1930s would qualify for me and it would be difficult for me to choose. I don't just mean the old standbys of The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind, but the lesser known features like Trail of the Lonesome Pine and The Four Feathers, which look like they were made in the 1950s (excluding what was done in Eastmancolor that decade). Come to think of it, Drums Along the Mohawk isn't bad.

 

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I am especially a sucker for those live-action "short subjects" that Warner Brothers and MGM were putting out... like Service with a Smile (starring Leon Errol in 1934)

 

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and Gypsy Night. (1935)...

 

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A 1936 title like Give Me Liberty predated the stark dark dramatic lighting that everybody over-praises GWTW for. It seems that the Technicolor crews experimented more in 20 minute films than features, which had to be more predictably shot to please the head honchos.

 

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For me its Once Upon A Time in the West, it distilled the Myth of the American West into one film, a Western about Westerns, directed by Sergio Leone, cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli, and a score by Ennio Morricone, its been called a high opera where the arias are starred not sung.

 

Where other Westerns are individual trees Once Upon A Time in the West is the forest.

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I am especially a sucker for those live-action "short subjects" that Warner Brothers and MGM were putting out... like Service with a Smile (starring Leon Errol in 1934)

 

attachicon.gif34-Service With A Smile- Leon Errol.JPG

 

and Gypsy Night. (1935)...

 

attachicon.gif35-Gypsy Night.JPG

 

 

 

I agree that those early 3-strip Technicolor shorts had really great color. Very vivid.

 

 

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The best-looking movie ever is "The Duellists" (1977), which was the first feature film directed by Ridley Scott. The cinematography by Scott and Frank Tidy is so scenic, it sometimes looks as if someone painted it. Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" (1975) would be a close second.

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AndyM, I'm not laughing at you for nominating The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, it truly is a

beautiful film. I'm not sure which film I would say is most beautiful, but two Kurosawa films come to mind, Dodes'ka-den, and Dreams. Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits is also very beautiful.

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Andy, I love The UMBRELLAS of CHERBOURG's sets & costumes too-so 60's. 

 

Jlewis, I just saw the 1940 version of THEIF OF BAGDAD on film (thanks Mr Barrios!) and the color/sets/costumes were great! I love Technicolor too. I love any film where color becomes a focal point, a "charactor" in the film like BLACK NARCISSUS.

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slayton, I agree, Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast is cinematic poetry. It has a dream-like, magical look and feel to it, in keeping with its fairy tale source. In fact, it reminds me in many ways of a silent film. Many of them have that same mysterious other-worldly look to them. 

I love that look, and consider it to be one way a film can be "beautiful". 

 

I'm afraid I'm not as open-minded as some of the posters here, though. If I don't like the movie, I can't seem to objectively assess its visual quality, even if it's beautiful. It doesn't matter how beautiful those David Lean epics are, (need I cite them? Lawrence of Arabia and the annoying, endless,  and endlessly annoying Dr. Zhivago ) I just don't like them, as the spam-hating lady in the Monty Python sketch proclaimed. 

 

But I do love what I call "visual poetry" in film. This is one of the things that makes movies different from other art forms, that ability to create striking and/or beautiful images on screen. Images that you remember and take away with you, if the cinematographer knows what he's doing.

 

A film that comes to mind for this is Fellini's Amarcord. It's a great movie, a personal favourite of mine. Not only for its story, picaresque as that is, and its music (a lovely soundtrack by the great Nino Rota), but for its visual beauty.

There's a scene in it in which a  town square is filled with softly falling snow, an unusual enough sight for a small town in southern Italy. But then, for no apparent reason, a peacock appears. In the middle of this silent snowy square, all whiteness,the peacock spreads its colourful feathers. A truly beautiful and unforgettable image.

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Thank you , missw, for your comments.  And also for providing the opportunity for renewing the idea of this thread, that it is a combination of many elements, even non-visual ones, that contribute to making a movie beautiful.  I agree that Fellini had made some of the most beautiful films.  It is not only his use of color and composition, but the way he moves the camera; sometimes searching, tracking; others sweeping, flowing, dancing.  To Amarcord, and Juliet of the Spirits, as ValentineXavier noted, I would also like to add 8½, especially for that fantastical circus at the end where all the personalities that inhabit ****'s subconscious parade before him.  It's magnificent and elevating.

 

 

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Seriously, why don't we have Barry Lyndon on TCM?  We've had the other four 1975 best picture nominees on TCM.

You know, I thought I remembered TCM showing it, but it doesn't have an article in the Database, so I guess not.  Try requesting it and see what happens.

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I can't see how a B&W movie could ever be considered to be the most beautiful, since life without color is depressing.

 

This is why the most over-rated movie is Citizen Kane (sorry but i have to be honest). Dr. Zhivago runs circles around that move, lol.

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A movie shot in B&W which I would think has to be considered among the "most beautiful" and which I believe has yet to be mentioned here would be "The Night of the Hunter".

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