The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 540-521


540. Landscape in the Mist (1988) Dir. Theodoros Angelopoulos, 127 mins.

Produced, directed and written in his traditionally episodic fashion by Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, the internationally produced Landscape in the Mist concentrates on a pair of runaway children, (Tania Palaiogou and Michalis Zeke) who are attempting to travel to Germany, where they believe their father is dwelling.

539. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Dir. John Frankenheimer, 126 mins.

The Manchurian Candidate concerns the brainwashing of Raymond Shaw, the son of a prominent political family, who becomes an unwitting assassin in an international communist conspiracy. Government officials from China and the Soviet Union follow Shaw around the world to brainwash him based on their theory that an assassin who has been brainwashed cannot feel fear or guilt.

538. Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) Dir. F.W. Murnau, 84 mins.

The film is split into two chapters. The first, called “Paradise”, depicts the lives of two lovers on a South Seas island where nature and their community are in harmony, until they are forced to escape the island when the girl is chosen as a holy maid to the gods. The second chapter, “Paradise Lost”, depicts the couple’s life on a colonised island and how they adapt to and are exploited by Western civilisation. Murnau died before the film’s premiere.

537. Il Posto (1961) Dir. Emanno Olmi, 93 mins.

An extension of Italian Neorealism, it explores many of the dehumanising practices of Italian corporations from the viewpoint of an Italian adolescent.

536. Stromboli (1950) Dir. Roberto Rossellini, 107 mins.

Shot in English, Stromboli was one of four films Ingrid Bergman made with her future husband and neo-realist director, Roberto Rossellini. She stars as Lithuanian war-refugee Karin, who marries Italian fisherman, Antonio, so she can get out of a hellish internment camp. He takes his new bride back to his native volcanic island off the coast of Sicily, Stromboli, but despite her efforts to fit in, the locals reject her and soon she comes to regard the island as a bigger prison than the one she left. With investment from RKO and despite the international box office attraction of Bergman, the film was a financial failure. This was not helped by the star’s off screen affair with Rossellini while making the film or the onscreen leaving of her husband which caused the studio to hugely cut the film to appease American morals and the Production Code. However, Bergman shows her true ability as an actress revealing a vulnerability missing from her earlier work, perhaps because of her complex relationship with Rossellini and her own struggles fitting in with a new culture having left the Hollywood mainstream and her family. Her work with Rossellini may have been less gratifying to her than her Hollywood success, but with Stromboli her acting ambitions had brought her the leading role in an enduring work of visual and psychological poetry.

535. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Dir. Robert Wise, 92 mins.

In The Day the Earth Stood Still, a humanoid alien visitor named Klaatu comes to Earth, accompanied by a powerful eight-foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message that will affect the entire human race.

534. The Servant (1963) Dir. Joseph Losey, 112 mins.

Thanks to his leftist political leanings, American director Joseph Losey was forced to escape McCarthy’s black list and move to Britain in the early 50s. However, his critical reputation wasn’t established until a decade later when he made the first of a three film collaboration with British playwright Harold Pinter. The Servant is a tightly-constructed psychological drama that examins issues relating to class, servitude and the ennui of the upper classes predominantly through the relationship between Dirk Bogarde’s sinister man servant and his young aristocratic employer James Fox. The film is perhaps the directors best work as it successfully combines his stylized social criticism with Pinter’s subtlety.

533. RoboCop (1987) Dir. Paul Verhoeven, 103 mins.

Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan, in the near future, RoboCop centres on police officer Alex Murphy (Weller) who is murdered by a gang of criminals and subsequently revived by the megacorporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) as a superhuman cyborg law enforcer known as RoboCop.

532. The Killing Fields (1984) Dir. Roland Joffe, 141 mins.

The Killing Fields is a 1984 British biographical drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg.

531. We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974) Dir. Ettore Scola, 124 mins.

Sandrelli plays the longtime object of three friends’ affections. The film traces the interrelationships of those friends-Vittorio Gassman, Nino Manfredi and Satta Flores-over a period of thirty years, beginning with their involvement in the wartime Resistance.

530. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Dir. Don Siegel, 80 mins.

The film’s storyline concerns an extraterrestrial invasion that begins in the fictional California town of Santa Mira. Alien plant spores have fallen from space and grown into large seed pods, each one capable of reproducing a duplicate replacement copy of each human. As each pod reaches full development, it assimilates the physical characteristics, memories, and personalities of each sleeping person placed near it; these duplicates, however, are devoid of all human emotion. Little by little, a local doctor uncovers this “quiet” invasion and attempts to stop it.

529. The Awful Truth (1937) Dir. Leo McCarey, 91 mins.

The plot concerns the machinations of a soon-to-be-divorced couple, played by Dunne and Grant, who go to great lengths to try to ruin each other’s romantic escapades.

528. Batman Begins (2005) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 140 mins.

The film reboots the Batman film series, telling the origin story of the character and begins with Bruce Wayne’s initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, and his journey to becoming Batman.

527. Kings of the Road (1976) Dir. Wim Wenders, 175 mins.

While travelling his route along the border between East and West Germany, projector repairman Bruno (Rüdiger Vogler) meets paediatrician Robert (Hanns Zischler) when the latter attempts suicide by driving his car into a shallow lake. From such off beginnings, the two form a genuine friendship as Robert accompanies Bruno on the road.

526. Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919) Dir. D.W. Griffith, 90 mins.

Compared to earlier films such as Intolerance, Broken Blossoms was a relatively small scale effort from D. W. Griffith. The film tells the story of an abused teenager, Lucy Burrows (Lilian Gish with one of her most impressive performances), who is abused by her brutal alcoholic prizefighting stepfather, Battling Burrows (Donald Crisp), and meets Cheng Huan, a kind-hearted and gentle Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess) who falls in love with her. The sympathetic portrayal of Cheng is probably Griffiths way of proving to his detractors after the controversial Birth of a Nation that he wasn’t a racist. It’s pure Victorian melodrama, dripping with sentiment but tempered by Gish’s subtlety and her power to convey raw emotion.

525. My Man Godfrey (1936) Dir. Gregory La Cava, 94 mins.

The story concerns a socialite who hires a derelict to be her family’s butler, only to fall in love with him.

524. Dersu Uzala (1975) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 144 mins.

The film is based on the 1923 memoir Dersu Uzala (which took its name from the native trapper) by Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev, about his exploration of the Sikhote-Alin region of the Russian Far East over the course of multiple expeditions in the early 20th century.

523. The Sorrow and the Pity (1969) Dir. Marcel Ophuls, 251 mins.

Shown in two parts, the documentary The Sorrow and the Pity was the first film to examine the collaboration between the Vichy government and Nazi Germany during World War II, and the French resistance. It focuses on the town of Clermont-Ferrand, part of Vichy France until the Germans occupied it in 1942. Intercutting between interviews and newsreels, Ophuls creates a remarkable and moving account looking at a highly controversial topic. So explosive, in fact, that French TV stations avoiding showing the film until the early 80s, despite its success in cinemas.

522. The Social Network (2010) Dir. David Fincher, 120 mins.

Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, the film portrays the founding of social networking website Facebook and the resulting lawsuits.

521. The Wild Child (1970) Dir. Francois Truffaut, 83 mins.

Truffaut stars in and directs a rewarding story of a child who spends the first eleven or twelve years of his life with little or no human contact. Exploring the relationship between director and film, reality and fiction.


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