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The most influential film


slaytonf
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Today's airing of Metropolis brought this to mind.  I can't think of another film which has had a greater effect.  I'm not talking about popularity.  There are many movies that immediately come to mind that were bigger draws, or live larger in the public consciousness.  I'm talking about the influence a movie has had in shaping the look of other movies, and the themes and ideas they address.  This goes beyond the obvious genre of science fiction films.  Metropolis not only was the pattern for the way dystopias are portrayed in film, but established the concept.  To be sure, it came out of the artistic and cultural conditions in Germany that also gave rise to such strained visions as Nosferatu, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  No doubt Expressionism had a role in the movie's look, but the concept of a world of extravagant excess, decadence, squalor, exploitation, and oppression, mixed with remarkable and magnificent achievement, is wholly the creation of Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang.  It is essentially an allegory of industrial society.  Birth of a Nation is cited for it's revolutionary role, but it is important for its technical developments, such as its length, and the techniques employed in story-telling, and creating, or heightening the emotional impact.  Much of what D. W. Griffith employed already existed.  His accomplishment was to assemble it in a work on a scale, and with a sophistication previously unknown.

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And I'll offer up the name King Vidor here for consideration, and especially his work in "The Big Parade" and "The Crowd".

Those are some I hadn't thought about, Dargo.  Can you say what there is in the movies, either in the visuals or the ideas, that you can seen in other movies?

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Those are some I hadn't thought about, Dargo.  Can you say what there is in the movies, either in the visuals or the ideas, that you can seen in other movies?

 

Yep. How about this famous scene in "The Crowd"?

 

the-crowd.jpg

 

(...I'll bet at first glance you might have been tryin' to pick out Jack Lemmon's C.C. Baxter in this still, now didn't ya?!) ;)

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The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman (1912) 

 

It is the seminal work for stop-motion animation. It strongly established also that motion pictures are art and so could with legitimacy explore subject matter which might be considered improper for live performances.

 

I believe it is also the first depiction of an audience watching a motion picture.

 

It can be viewed at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIC0Sb6pLvI

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Glad you said  "I'm talking about the influence a movie has had in shaping the look of other movies, and the themes and ideas they address," because otherwise The Birth of a Nation would be a no-brainer for its combination of technique and influence on public events.

 

But by the standards you're using, the first two films that would come to my mind would be Metropolis and Bonnie and Clyde.  You've already stated the case for Metropolis, but Bonnie and Clyde was very influential in both technique (the use of slow motion as a cinematic cliché) and its unashamed presentation of a pair of murderers as some sort of cultural heroes. 

 

To the above I'd add that while both of these films were strong reflections of the specific society in which they were produced, in the real world there was almost a visceral public backlash against the values that were implicit in the two filmmakers' visions.  Just a few years after Metropolis, the Weimar culture had been forced into exile along with Fritz Lang, and just a year after Bonnie and Clyde had been released, we had Nixon and George Wallace combining for nearly 57% of the national popular vote.

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To that I would add The Godfather, even though the argument can be made IT was influenced by Bonnie and Clyde, but because it brought about a notion of making "Mob Movies" that make mobsters anti heroes that still continues to this day.

 

Sepiatone

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Wonder if they all went to visit Franz Kafka afterwards?

 

It is my understanding that the director wished to capture on film insects fighting. It was when they died under the hot lights necessary for the primitive film that he changed to using their bodies for stop-motion animation. I find it surreal that their death changed their fate from being in mildly interesting nature clip to starring roles in comedy-drama mini-movie.

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Peckinpah's 'The Wild Bunch' created a new approach to showing action sequences. 

 

Wiki notes that the director would film the major shootouts with six cameras, operating at various film rates, including 24 frames per second, 30 frames per second, 60 frames per second, 90 frames per second, and 120 frames per second. When the scenes were eventually cut together, the action would shift from slow to fast to slower still, giving time an elastic quality never before seen in motion pictures up to that time.

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Possibly note-worthy comment:

 

When I first saw The Wild Bunch, in a film class, I intensely disliked it.  Now, many years later (and several repeat viewings later) I love it. I know better now.

It's a great film. If I could go back in time and tell that squeamish young woman who thought it "glorified violence" to shut up and watch, I would.

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By coincidence, I finally got around to watching The Wild Bunch just the other night.  Terrific acting, especially by Ryan and Borgnine, very good character development, and an absolutely perfect final resolution with the human vultures riding off into the sunset.  The irony was ladled on pretty thick, but the look on Ryan's face as he got up to join them made the entire movie worth the viewing time.  That was one great actor.

 

BUT-----once you've seen one 10,000 round shootout you've seen em all.  Influential, maybe, but not in all that interesting a way.

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Yep. How about this famous scene in "The Crowd"?

 

the-crowd.jpg

 

(...I'll bet at first glance you might have been tryin' to pick out Jack Lemmon's C.C. Baxter in this still, now didn't ya?!) ;)

 

Yes, the depersonalizing effect of corporate regimentation is a major theme in movies, both for visuals and story.  Amazing that King Vidor caught that way back in 1928, when a relatively small percentage of the workforce was white collar.  In fact, I believe half of Americans still lived in rural areas.

 

otherwise The Birth of a Nation would be a no-brainer for its combination of technique and influence on public events.

 

 

 

It's my opinion D. W. Griffith's accomplishments in the movie would have come about anyway.  As I said, it was his genius to assemble them and refine them before anyone else.  He definitely had a grand vision.  Too bad his vision employed such a deplorable subject matter as a vehicle.

 

-once you've seen one 10,000 round shootout you've seen em all.  Influential, maybe, but not in all that interesting a way.

 

Interesting point that influence can be for the worse.  There's another movie in that vein I can think of, but I think I will save that as the focus for another thread.

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