25 FILMS YOU MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE
Inspired by the book, 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die, World Movies has collated a six month season of 25 exceptional films starting March 1, 2005, and screening every Tuesday evening at 8.30pm (with encore screenings the following Sunday evening). These are not just critical favourites, but films that resonate powerfully with millions of people, films that will be an honour and pleasure to present, says World Movies Channel Host, Andrew L. Urban.
"the depth and the diversity"
In March, the first five films demonstrate both the depth and the diversity of this collection: The Seven Samurai, The Rules of The Game, Metropolis, Dersa Uzula and Blowup. (see more details below) That’s two of Akira Kurosawa’s greatest films in one month; one of the greatest action dramas ever made (The Seven Samurai) plus the unforgettable, fact based adventure around a unique and wonderful character (Dersa Uzula).
“The idea arose from the Milestones of Cinema season in 2003,” says Jacqui Feeney, Chief Executive of World Movies, “as we recognised that there were a number of great films that didn’t fit into the monthly format that we had then, so when we came across the book '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' we responded to the catchy title and interesting selection in the book to develop our own list of 25.
“In identifying the 25, we wanted films that represent the great wealth of world cinema but also had a sense of personality. It was never meant to be the 25 BEST films but rather a selection of some that are well known (eg Metropolis and Chaplin) and some that are rarely seen (eg Un Chien Andalou and Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror). We also wanted the collection to be a bit fun as the title suggests.
“In particular, we focused on world cinema classics that had never been on subscription TV (hence no Hitchcock or Westerns) as well as some old favourites such as 8 and ½ and Three Colours: Blue. Of the 25, 17 films are subscription TV and World Movies Channel premieres.”
I know I’m biased, but really, if a World Movies subscription looked great value before, with its weekly array of premieres of both commercial and arthouse films from around the world, it looks irresistible now. Browse through the list of 25 for yourself and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store:
1. The Seven Samurai (1954)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune
Screening: Tuesday March 1, 8.30pm
Much imitated, still unsurpassed. Dubbed “the greatest action movie ever made,” Akira Kurosawa’s thrilling, humane epic is tireless, fast-moving and packed with astounding action. In 16th Century Japan, villagers hire a bunch of samurai to defend their lives and homes. Remade by Hollywood as The Magnificent Seven, this is celebrated as Kurosawa’s best known and much-loved masterpiece.
2. The Rules Of The Game (1939)
Director: Jean Renoir
Starring: Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost
Screening: Tuesday March 8, 8.30pm
Jean Renoir’s masterfully directed, exquisitely acted social comedy on the ironies of the pre-WWII French class system. Causing an outrage upon its initial release in 1939 (the premiere audience booed it and then tried to burn the theatre down!), The Rules Of The Game is a scathing critique of corrupt French society cloaked in a comedy of manners, famed also for its cinematic style favouring deep spaces and a highly mobile camera.
3. Metropolis (1927)
Director: Fritz Lang
Starring: Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich
Screening: Tuesday March 15, 8.30pm
Fritz Lang’s visionary, visually exhilarating, silent sci-fi classic Metropolis is an epic projection of a futuristic city divided into working and elite classes. A masterpiece of art direction, the film influenced cinema’s vision of the future, with its art deco skyscrapers linked by superhighways snaking through the air while faceless workers toil in the catacombs beneath. A film ahead of its time.
4. Dersu Uzala (1974)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Yuri Solomin, Maksim Munzuk
Japan/U.S.S.R (in Russian) (G)
Screening: Tuesday March 22, 8.30pm
Based on the journals of Russian explorer Vladimir Arseniev, Akira Kurosawa’s Oscar® winning true story of the friendship between an officer on a map-making expedition and an elderly peasant recruited as a guide for the survey. A visually hypnotic, highly affecting adventure, with Kurosawa's keen eye extracting beauty from even the most desolate Siberian landscapes.
5. Blowup (1966)
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Starring: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Birkin
Screening: Tuesday March 29, 8.30pm
Causing a frenzy upon its release, Antonioni’s first English language film is a provocative mystery set in the Mod culture of swinging 60s London. An atmospheric and tense exploration of love without meaning, and murder without guilt. Nominated for two Academy Awards®, the film went on to influence an entire generation of directors.
6. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot
Screening: Tuesday 5 April, 8.30pm
Bergman’s most recognisable film. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes, an uncompromising classic that muses on life, death and the existence of God. A knight returning from the Crusades searches for answers as he challenges Death to a game of chess for his soul.
7. The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov
Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky
Screening: Tuesday 12 April, 8.30pm
One of the landmarks of cinema since its release in 1925, Sergei Eisenstein's silent retelling of the famed 1905 mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin features the much imitated massacre on the Odessa Steps. It remains one of the most perfectly constructed films ever made.
8. 8 ½ (1963)
Director: Federico Fellini
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale
Screening: Tuesday 19 April, 8.30pm
Fellini’s Academy Award® winning film about an artist trapped by his own success. Elegant, definitive and utterly honest, 8 ½ follows the trials and tribulations of a film director who faces artistic ruin. Considered by many to be autobiographical, it is a classic and timeless example of ‘Felliniesque’ charm, and a celebration of filmmaking.
9. Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (1928)
Director: Luis Buñuel , Salvador Dalí
Starring: Luis Buñuel , Salvador Dalí
Screening: Tuesday 26 April, 8.30pm
The most famous short film ever made, Luis Buñuel’s directorial debut was also his first collaboration with artist Salvador Dalí. This sensual, shocking and deeply subversive masterpiece of provocation features seventeen minutes of bizarre and surreal images that may or may not mean anything, including the infamous eyeball slicing scene.
Belle De Jour (1967)
Director: Luis Buñuel
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli
Screening: Tuesday 26 April, 8.50pm (start time is approximate)
Arguably the most accessible of Buñuel’s biting satires, a lyrical exploration of a neglected doctor’s wife who leads a bizarre double life. With couture by Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve is ice cool and untouchable as the bored wife who turns to prostitution to fulfil her sexual urges. Winner of the Golden Lion at Venice.
10. Kes (1969)
Director: Ken Loach
Starring: David Bradley, Brian Glover
Screening: Tuesday 3 May, 8.30pm
Ken Loach’s first feature film is a plea for personal and spiritual freedom, mixed with heartbreaking humanity. Told in Loach’s simple, unsentimental trademark manner, it’s the story of a teenage boy in despair, and the system that failed him.
11. Breathless (1959)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg
Screening: Tuesday 10 May, 8.30pm
Cool, cool, cool French New Wave classic. Godard's tragic love story that launched Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo as icons of French chic.
12. Mon Oncle (1958)
Director: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati, Jean-Pierre Zola
Screening: Tuesday 17 May, 8.30pm
One of the all-time French comedy classics, with Jacques Tati truly memorable as the accident-prone Monsieur Hulot creating havoc in the spotless, gadget-filled home of his sister. Tati’s first colour film won an Academy Award® and the Special Jury Prize at Cannes.
13. Raise The Red Lantern (1991)
Director: Zhang Yimou
Starring: Gong Li
China (in Mandarin) (PG)
Screening: Tuesday 24 May, 8.30pm
Leading Fifth Generation director Zhang Yimou’s third collaboration with the stunning Gong Li is a vivid, exotic and visually stunning exploration of 1920s feudal China. A young university student becomes the fourth and youngest wife of a powerful man and is soon involved in the household politics. Nominated for a plethora of international awards, it remains a defining example of Fifth Generation Chinese cinema.
14. Modern Times (1936)
Director: Charles Chaplin
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard
Screening: Tuesday 31 May, 8.30pm
Charlie Chaplin bid farewell to the ‘Little Tramp’ and to silent comedy with this funny, poignant and timeless masterpiece. Using his trademark and unrivalled gift for physical comedy, Chaplin unveils a brilliant spoof on the industrial age that is as stinging today as it was on its release in 1936.
15. Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas
Screening: Tuesday 7 June, 8.30pm
This energetic crowd pleaser put Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar on the international map. Both a sexy, sophisticated and fiendish comedy and a testament to the resilient beauty of women. Internationally acclaimed by critics and festivals, it boasts an all-star cast including Antonio Banderas, and garnered Almodóvar his first Academy Award® nomination.
16. Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932)
Director: Jean Renoir
Starring: Michel Simon, Charles Granval
Screening: Tuesday 14 June, 8.30pm
Jean Renoir’s delightful classic masterpiece about a tramp rescued from a suicide plunge in the Seine by a bourgeois bookseller. An enchanting celebration of joyful anarchy and a distinctly modern depiction of marriage and relationships, highlighted by 1930s pre-war footage of Paris. Remade by Hollywood in 1985 as Down And Out In Beverly Hills.
17. Solaris (1972)
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis
Screening: Tuesday 21 June, 8.30pm
Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic sci-fi masterpiece is a brilliant series of encounters between humans, and their fears, fantasies and faiths. Unique, thought-provoking and enigmatic, the film is a poetic meditation on space travel.
18. City of God (2002)
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino Da Hora
Brazil (in Portuguese) (R)
Screening: Tuesday 28 June, 8.30pm
Pumping with visceral energy, the multi-award winning saga of life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Shocking, confronting, fast and furious, it was nominated for four Academy Awards®, including Best Director.
19. Breaking The Waves (1996)
Director: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård
Denmark (in English) (MA)
Screening: Tuesday 5 July, 8.30pm
A true international hit, and the film that put Lars Von Trier onto the celluloid map. Nominated for the Palme d’Or and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, a raw and difficult tale of religious fervour and emotional dysfunction. A naive young woman finds a unique way to express her devotion to her husband. A challenging, but ultimately rewarding and unforgettable love story.
20. Last Tango In Paris (1972)
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider
Italy/ France (R)
Screening: Tuesday 12 July, 8.30pm
Daring and provocative, Bernardo Bertolucci’s notorious arthouse classic was originally famous for its sexual frankness, but has endured because of the memorable performances of its cast. In one of his most mesmerising roles, Marlon Brando is unforgettable as a lonely widower in Paris who strikes up an anonymous sexual relationship with a young woman. Sophisticated, evocative and erotic.
21. Nosferatu, A Symphony Of Terror (1922)
Director: F.W. Murnau
Starring: Max Schrek, Alexander Granach
Screening: Tuesday 19 July, 8.30pm
More haunting than frightening, this iconic film inspired endless ‘Dracula’ film imitations, none of which are as striking or as unforgettable. Few films have had such a powerful effect on an entire genre than Nosferatu has had upon a score of horror films. One of the most impressive silent features of all time.
22. Umberto D (1952)
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Carlo Battisti, Maria-Pia Casilio
Screening: Tuesday 26 July, 8.30pm
De Sica’s small story with a huge heart. A simple and deeply affecting story about a dignified old man’s love for his dog. True Neo-Realism from a cinematic giant using a talented non-professional cast.
23. Three Colours: Blue (1993)
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Benoît Régent
Screening: Tuesday 2 August, 8.30pm
Haunting, mysterious and oblique, this is the first in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s famous Three Colours trilogy. Juliette Binoche is hypnotic as a broken spirit struggling to cope with a life altering tragedy. Winner of Venice’s Golden Lion and a host of other awards, Kieslowski’s visually ravishing story delves into emotional isolation and the subtle workings of the soul.
24. The Battle Of Algiers (1965)
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Starring: Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi
Screening: Tuesday 9 August, 8.30pm
One of the most influential films to come out of Italy in the 1960’s, a surprisingly unbiased but passionate account of the bloody Algerian struggle for independence. Winner of the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, it is a gripping masterpiece of propaganda which, even today, retains its universal frame of reference.
25. Les Enfants Du Paradis (1945)
Director: Marcel Carné
Starring: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault
Screening: Tuesday 16 August, 8.30pm
Since its release in 1945, Les Enfants Du Paradis has maintained its position as one of the greatest French films of all time. A complex relationship drama set in 1830s Paris, it is a sophisticated, cynical portrait of actors, murderers, swindlers, prostitutes and the decadent rich. A wickedly flamboyant celebration of the relation between theatre and life.
Published February 17, 2005
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