The world is about to end and you are assigned to preserve only 10 films. You will place them in a special time capsule to show a new civilization in a thousand years what the possibilities of cinema were, as well as providing some history in its progression as an art form. Explain your selections.
The best question I have received so far! Here are my selections. Hope they are up to snuff.
- The Kiss (1896) - it’s one of the very first films ever shown and it caused such a ruckus at the time because of how it apparently crossed boundaries of decency. I think it shows how cinema’s beginnings were far from modest; a reminder that film can and should continue to push the envelope.
- Modern Times (1936) - it goes without saying that Charlie Chaplin is one of the greats, and Modern Times is not only one of his best, but also one of his most thought-provoking pieces. It not only marks the advent of industrialization, which is a huge part of human history, but it does it with physical comedy that proves how dynamic cinema is as a medium.
- Disney’s Fantasia (1940) - a marvel of animation. Set the standard for cinema as art, animated film, use of music and sound… and it has no dialogue! I think we’ve all grown accustomed to movies and their use of dialogue to further a plot, but I think we forget that cinema is the art of the moving picture, and what better way to show that than with one of Disney’s finest?
- Vertigo (1958) - Hitchcock was one of cinema’s pioneers, and it would be wrong to leave any of his film’s from this list. I feel that Vertigo balances story and technique really well, and Hitchcock’s use of the camera, color and music shows everything that cinema can do. It’s the perfect marriage of sight and sound, a great segueway from Fantasia, too,I think.
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - what better way to tell the story of humanity than with a classic tale about the rise and fall of a man? Not only does Peter O’Toole give a brilliant performance, but the film offers one of the best showcases of breathtaking cinematography and editing.
- Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) - from Chaplin’s physical comedy to the subtle satirical humor of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, film is a flexible medium. The Cold War is a big part of human history, and Dr. Strangelove tells that story with a sense of humor that shows the capacity of cinema for reflective storytelling.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Kubrick’s film is a masterpiece of technical innovation, fantastic use of sound design (especially silence), and is thought-provoking to boot. It is humanity in a nutshell, showcasing how our evolution has progressed, particularly in our use of tools. It’s basically an anthropological odyssey set to the Blue Danube.
- Jurassic Park (1993) - there’s a pattern to the films I’ve been choosing here, and if you haven’t picked up on it yet, the theme is basically hubris. And what better representation of that than a film about scientists who decide that playing god with a theme park full of dinosaurs is a good idea? This Steven Spielberg film completely changed the landscape of cinema by marrying practical with digital special effects and showing that there is room for both CGI and physical SFX (animatronics, miniatures, etc).
- Drunken Master 2 / The Legend of Drunken Master (1994) - the film has some of the best fight scenes ever filmed, and it also introduces a unique genre in cinema: drunken kung fu. Endlessly entertaining and such a showcase of physical action and comedy, it’s one of my personal favorites and a film that once again shows off how dynamic the medium is. I would have put Drunken Master, but I personally think the sequel is better, hence the choice.
- The Matrix (1999)- it goes without saying that the Wachowskis changed how movies would be made with this film. Not only was it ambitious in its storytelling, but the use of pioneering technology to achieve some of the iconic scenes in the film resulted in a wave of new developments that has had a huge impact on CGI. I had never seen anything like The Matrix before and it certainly opened up possibilities for many projects.
I’d like to open this up to my followers as well. What would your choices be?