The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 420-401


420. Winter Sleep (2014) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 196 mins.

Adapted from the short story, “The Wife” by Anton Chekhov and one subplot of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the story is set in Anatolia and examines the significant divide between the rich and the poor as well as the powerful and the powerless in Turkey. Watch

419. The Return (2003) Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 105 mins.

It tells the story of two Russian boys whose father suddenly returns home after a 12-year absence.

418. The Quince Tree Sun (1992) Dir. Víctor Erice, 138 mins.

The film centers on Spanish painter Antonio López García and his attempt to paint the eponymous quince tree. López struggles to capture a perfect, fleeting moment of beauty on canvas, and the film meticulously chronicles his work.

417. Faust: A German Folk Legend (1926) Dir. F.W. Murnau, 116 mins.

Featuring then revolutionary techniques in special effects and a remarkable use of light, Faust is probably the most cinematic of Murnau’s films. The beauty of the film-makers work is never more evident than in the spectacularly visualised prologue in heaven. Emil Jannings glowers his way through the role of arch-tempter Mephisto, who offers the ageing Faust an opportunity to relive his youth, the price being Faust’s soul. Eric Rohmer considered Faust Murnau’s greatest artistic achievement because all the film’s other elements were secondary to the mise-en-scene. Watch

416. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) Dir. Sergei Parajanov, 97 mins.

Though derided by Soviet authorities, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is considered one of the most striking stylistic achievements in world cinema. Rich in folkloric elements, costumes, rituals and songs, the film is set among the Hutsul people of the Western Ukraine, an isolated ethnic group who live in the upper reaches of the mountain range. Their lives take place within a harsh environment and an ornate cultural system little changed since the 18th century. With its minimalist narrative and ever moving held camera shots, the film is a visual tour de force of symbolic colours.

415. L’Eclisse (1962) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 118 mins.

By the time of the final entry of Michelangelo Antonioni’s loose trilogy on post-war malaise and alienation, the initially derided first film L’Avventura (the second being La Notte) had been reevaluated to the extent that L’Eclisse had become the most eagerly awaited film at the Cannes Film Festival. The romantic drama centres on the love life of a beautiful but disaffected young literacy translator, Vittoria (Monica Vitti), who lives in Rome. After breaking up with an older lover and writer, Riccardo (Francisco Rabal), she becomes involved with a confident young stockbroker, Piero (Alain Delon) whose materialistic nature eventually undermines their relationship. While some will find the slow pace and existential angst a struggle, L’Eclisse features two wonderful performances from Vitti and a dynamic Delon and, with an impact undiminished by time, the film is still seen as a stunning but disturbing modernist masterpiece notable for its bold and experimental narrative that’s perhaps even more radical than the two earlier films. It’s this innovative approach that further enhanced Antonioni’s reputation as one of the most talented filmmaker’s of his generation. More…

414. Cool Hand Luke (1967) Dir. Stuart Rosenberg, 126 mins.

Paul Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system. Watch

413. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Dir. Frank Capra, 129 mins.

The film is about a newly appointed United States Senator (James Stewart) who fights against a corrupt political system. Watch

412. Night of the Living Dead (1968) Dir. George A. Romero, 96 mins.

The story follows characters Ben (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O’Dea), and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in western Pennsylvania, which is besieged by a large and growing group of unnamed “living dead” monsters.

411. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953) Dir. Jacques Tati, 114 mins.

The film follows the pipe-smoking, well-meaning but clumsy character of Monsieur Hulot, who goes on a summer vacation to a stuffy modest seaside resort where the community are fond of the peace and quiet, something that Hulot quickly interrupts. Watch

410. The Maltese Falcon (1941) Dir. John Huston, 100 mins.

The story follows a San Francisco private detective and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.

409. Z (1969) Dir. Costa-Gavras, 127 mins.

One of the most highly praised political films of the post-war era, Costa-Gavros’s thriller presents a thinly fictionalised account of the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. It’s fast paced action cinema and a satirical attack on Greece’s military junta who ruled the country from 1967 to 1974.

408. The Virgin Spring (1960) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 89 mins.

Set in medieval Sweden, the film retells a legend of murder and expiation. It follows a vengeful father’s merciless response to the rape and murder of his young daughter. Underlying the film is the search for meaning in the face of suffering and despair and this existential angst is particularly dramatised through the infamous rape scene.

407. The Departed (2006) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 151

Based on the internationally acclaimed Hong Kong actioner, Infernal Affairs and it’s two sequels, The Departed transports the story of deception and conflicted loyalties, within the police and a criminal group, to Boston. Irish Mob boss Francis “Frank” Costello (Jack Nicholson) plants Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) as a mole within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover state trooper William “Billy” Costigan (Leonardo Di Caprio) to infiltrate Costello’s crew. The outstanding ensemble cast, the stylish direction of Scorsese and his and William Monahan’s intelligent adapted screenplay helped garner not just popular and critical acclaim but also significant recognition at the academy awards.

406. Mean Streets (1973) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 112 mins.

Returning to the autobiographical milieu of his 1968 debut Who’s That Knocking at My Door? for his third feature Martin Scorsese examined the daily struggles of a wannabe hood to keep his morals straight on the streets of Little Italy. Driven equally by his wish to become a respectable gangster like his uncle (Cesare Danova) and his desire to live his life like St. Francis, Charlie (Harvey Keitel) takes on his energetically unhinged friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) as his own personal penance, intervening to get Johnny Boy to pay off a debt to the local loan shark Michael (Richard Romanus).

405. Le Jour Se Leve (1939) Dir. Marcel Carné, 93 mins.

Considered one of the principal examples of the French poetic realism movement, the film follows Francois, a factory worker, who fatally shoots a dog trainer. Francois then locks himself in his room and starts remembering how he attempted the murder.

404. For Sama (2019) Dir. Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts, 100 mins.

The film focuses on Waad Al-Kateab’s journey as a journalist and rebel in the Syrian uprising. Her husband is Hamza Al-Kateab, one of the few doctors left in Aleppo, and they raise their daughter Sama Al-Kateab during the Syrian Civil War.

403. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 99 mins.

Eschewing regional politics in the years leading up to World War II, the film is about two employees at a leathergoods shop in Budapest who can barely stand each other, not realising they are falling in love as anonymous correspondents through their letters.

402. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Dir. James Whale, 75 mins.

A chastened Henry Frankenstein abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by the Monster, encouraged by Henry’s old mentor Dr. Pretorius, into constructing a mate for him.

401. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Dir. Peter Jackson, 179 mins.

Frodo and Samwise press on toward Mordor with Gollum as their guide whilst Aragorn, drawing closer to his kingly destiny, rallies forces of good for the battles that must come. Perhaps lacking the polish and characterisation of the first film but The Two Towers does feature a memorably huge battle sequence.


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