Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

a top 10 fim innovation list from today’s Globe and Mail

Posted on | February 12, 2010 | No Comments

thought this was interesting. comments?


Liam Lacey

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 5:40PM EST Last updated on Saturday, Feb. 06, 2010 1:02AM EST

James Cameron’s science-fiction epic Avatar is not only the box-office record holder of all time and poised nicely for Oscar glory next month (with nine nominations). It has been widely hailed as a movie that has changed the experience of movie-going. Technology was developed for it that realizes a virtual world in unprecedented detail and allows actors to transfer their performances to three-dimensional animated characters. In a little more than a century of film, a handful of other films stand out as fundamentally changing our experience of the movies.

1. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

D.W. Griffiths’s first blockbuster was the culmination of narrative innovations in cinema’s first 20 years, from close-ups, cross-cutting action scenes and flashbacks, to action in the foreground, middle and background. Unfortunately, The Birth of a Nation was also a shamelessly racist propaganda film that contributed to the revival of the Ku Klux Klan.

2. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Director Sergei Eisenstein’s film about Russian sailors’ 1905 rebellion against their Czarist overlords is an exercise in the power of montage, designed to induce the maximum emotional effect from editing. Everyone from Neil Jordan and Martin Scorsese to Terry Gilliam, Frances Ford Coppola and George Lucas have paid homage to the sequences, while Eisenstein’s propaganda techniques have shaped modern advertising.

3. The Jazz Singer (1927)

“Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet, folks. Listen to this,” said Al Jolson in the first movie to use scenes of synchronous dialogue, ending many silent stars’ careers, changing the look of movies, and ushering in the era of rat-a-tat banter.

4. It Happened One Night (1934)

The original romcom, with runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert), and Clark Gable as the grumpy guy who falls for her. Undershirt sales dropped after Gable appeared shirtless. It gets remade a few times each year under a different title.

5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Disney’s first animated Technicolor feature emphasized realistic depth effects and action sequences, and lay the foundation for the eventual converge of animation and live action.

6. Gone With the Wind (1939)

The story of how a spoiled Southern brat, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), becomes the embodiment of the indomitable South remains the model of every prissy heroine who discovers her mettle. Still the highest-grossing movie of all time, when adjusted for inflation, the movie is also a landmark in hype, with its release preceded by a three-year publicity campaign.

7. Citizen Kane (1941)

Apart from being often cited by critics as the greatest movie ever made, Citizen Kane marked significant technical innovations, including deep-focus photography and overlapping dialogue, and a much-imitated jigsaw narrative. Culturally, it marks the transition of the job of director from craftsman behind the camera to king-of-the-world status.

8. Breathless (1960)

Jean-Luc Godard’s propulsive B-movie plot, jump-cuts and high-low culture mix opened up the New American cinema of Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Penn and others, and continues to cast its shadow over the art-exploitation blends of Quentin Tarantino and the unhinged melancholy of Wong Kar-wai.

9. Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock’s low-budget shocker broke a lot of rules, killing off its star and showing a toilet onscreen. The frenzied editing of the shower scene pushed back decades of film censorship and opened the door to the cinema of sensation. Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws and the entire slasher genre owe Psycho a huge debt.

10. Star Wars (1977).

“Star Wars was the film that ate the heart and soul of Hollywood,” lamented screenwriter/director Paul Schrader. How did a movie for kids become the new paradigm? From CGI, Dolby Sound, toy marketing, mythologist Joseph Campbell, trilogies and reboots, the Star Wars franchise is the new model. A generation of 10-year-old Star Wars worshippers, from J.J. Abrams to Kevin Smith, grew up to become filmmakers themselves.


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