The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 340-321


340. Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany (1984) Dir. Edgar Reitz, 924 mins.

Shot in 35 mm, the sixteen hour epic TV series depicts over sixty years, beginning in 1919 and ending in 1982, of German political history through its impact on family life in the fictitious rural village of Schabbach in the Rhineland. A revisionist film, Reitz pursues history in terms of personal stories, seeking to restore a sense of continuity to the discontinuous and fragmented history of Germany. He integrates the Hitler regime into the lived experiences of the simple, unpolitical German villagers who consequently appear more as victims than anywhere near participants in the Third Reich. Becoming the most widely known and critically acclaimed history film of New German Cinema, it features remarkable attention to detail in its reconstructions of the various historical periods. It was screened as a film in two parts in European film festivals and all major German cities in the summer of 1984 before its release on TV.

339. La Haine (1995) Dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, 96 mins.

It is about three young friends and their struggle to live in the banlieues of Paris.

338. Ivan the Terrible, Part Two (1958) Dir. Sergei M. Eisenstein, 88 mins.

Made as being the second part of a projected trilogy, the film was banned by Russia’s Central Committee for portraying Ivan as an indecisive ruler and not the unifying hero of the first film, (he was shown to be too hesitant in killing his enemies). Part Two takes up the story of the complex leader (Nikolai Cherkasov) upon his return to Moscow from Alexandrov. Ivan must deal with a group of unfriendly boyars and becomes even more insulated after his mother is poisoned and an assassination plot is uncovered. With policy makers trying to reassert control of the arts and Eisenstein attacked by a wave of criticism, he was pushed into further poor health and isolation. The film was not shown until after the death of Stalin, by which time Eisenstein was also dead.

337. The Phantom Carriage (1921) Dir. Victor Sjostrom, 93 mins.

David Holm (Victor Sjostrom) is the abusive husband who finds his wife (Hilda Borgstrom) has left him after he is released from prison. He vows vengeance for her abandonment in his hour of need. The couple is reunited in a Salvation Army mission where David convinces his estranged wife to reconcile their differences.

336. The Circus (1928) Dir. Charlie Chaplin, 71 mins.

The ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires Chaplin’s Little Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose. Given that the troubled production coincided with the death of Chaplin’s mother and divorce proceedings by his second wife Lita Grey, it’s hardly surprising that The Circus has bitter undertones. However, the film does have moments of cinematic brilliance and hilarious slapstick comedy.

335. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) Dir. Fritz Lang, 122 mins.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge returns as Dr. Mabuse who, while imprisoned in an insane asylum, continues on with his plots to destroy the world. Beautiful, powerful and with a great deal of suspense the film is Lang at his most inventive. Watch

334. The Cloud-Capped Star (1960) Dir. Ritwik Ghatak, 126 mins.

The first of an audacious and politically charged trilogy based in Calcutta that controversially addressed the condition of refugees, The Cloud-Capped Star is a devastating tale that centres on a working woman (Supriya Choudhury) who sacrifices her freedom and eventually her life to provide for her uncaring siblings. A basic and at times starkly realist narrative is enhanced by Ritwik Ghatak’s inventive direction and an overlaying mythic reference to a Bengali legend, about the Goddess Durga, that defines the actual means by which women are oppressed.

333. Colossal Youth (2006) Dir. Pedro Costa, 155 mins.

The third feature by Costa set in Lisbon’s Fontainhas neighborhood (after In Vanda’s Room and Bones), Colossal Youth is a meditation on the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution and its consequences for Portugal’s poverty-stricken Cape Verdean immigrants.

332. Where is the Friend’s Home? (1987) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 87 mins.

The first part of Kiarostami’s friendship trilogy, the film was made under the auspices of Iran’s Institute for the intellectual development of children and young adults and tells a deceptively simple account of a conscientious 8 year old schoolboy’s quest to the neighbouring village to return his friend’s notebook, that he took in error, as should his friend fail to hand it in the next day, it is likely he will get expelled. An often realistic and touching tale of loyalty and compassion that helped launch Kiarostami onto the world stage.

331. Early Summer (1951) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 124 mins.

Although lacking in international recognition when first released, Ozu’s domestic comedy was much lauded in his native Japan. The plot concerns Noriko, who lives contentedly in an extended family household that includes her parents and her brother’s family, but an uncle’s visit prompts the family to find her a husband. A lyrical evocation of suburban life.

330. The House Is Black (1963) Dir. Forough Farrokhzad, 22 mins.

The film is a look at life and suffering in a leper colony and focuses on the human condition and the beauty of creation.

329. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Dir. Robert Hamer, 106 mins.

Louis, the son of a woman ostracised by her aristocratic family for eloping with an Italian opera singer, decides to avenge the insult to his mother.

328. Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928) Dir. Charles Reisner, 71 mins.

Willie Canfield (Buster Keaton) is the namby-pamby son of rough-and-tumble steamboat captain “Steamboat Bill” Canfield (Ernest Torrence). When he’s not trying to make a man out of his boy, the captain is carrying on a feud with Tom Carter (Tom McGuire), the wealthy owner of a fancy new ferryboat. Carter has a pretty daughter, Mary King (Marion Byron), with whom Willie falls in love. The two younger folks try to patch up the feud, but this seems impossible once the captain is jailed for punching out Carter.

327. Ace in the Hole (1951) Dir. Billy Wilder, 111 mins.

Ace in the Hole is a film noir starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical, disgraced reporter who stops at nothing to try to regain a job on a major newspaper. Watch

326. An Elephant Sitting Still (2018) Dir. Hu Bo, 234 minutes.

The first and only film by the novelist-turned-director Hu, who committed suicide soon after finishing the movie, is set in the Chinese city of Manzhouli, and follows four people through a complicated day as their lives intersect.

325. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Dir. William Wyler, 172 mins.

Wyler’s first postwar film was something of an epic statement. Running nearly three hours long, the film considers the transition from war to peacetime. It focuses on three United States servicemen from different branches of service and different social classes as they readjust to civilian life, particularly the relationships with their families, after returning to the same hometown after World War II. While Wyler might be trying too hard at cinematic realism, it has moments of touching honesty and Gregg Toland’s photography remains notable for the long takes, moving camera, and remarkable deep focus with a c!ever use of depth within the frame. The film also overshadowed It’s a  Wonderful Life at the Oscars, winning nine, but has ultimately failed to retain the sort of stature that Capra’s film went on to find.

324. The Graduate (1967) Dir. Mike Nichols, 105 mins.

The film tells the story of 21 year old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent university graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by a bored older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but then falls in love with her daughter. Nichols’s satirical comedy drama doesn’t feel as cutting edge now as it did on release but it’s still notable for its stylish visuals and a memorable soundtrack, that with the inclusion of songs such as ‘Sound of Silence’ and ‘Mrs. Robinson,’ even made Simon & Garfunkel seem edgy and cool.

323. Underground (1995) Dir. Emir Kusturica, 170 mins.

The film uses the epic story of two friends to portray a Yugoslav history from the beginning of World War II until the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars.

322. Winter Light (1963) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 81 mins.

Winter Light follows Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand), pastor of a small rural Swedish church, as he deals with an existential crisis and his Christianity. A bleak desolate film in which the characters torment themselves and each other, seeking guidance and comfort in a world from which God is absent.

321. An Autumn Afternoon (1962) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 112 mins.

It stars Ozu regular Chishū Ryū as the patriarch of the Hirayama family who eventually realises that he has a duty to arrange a marriage for his daughter Michiko (Shima Iwashita).


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