The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, 1919)

. Director: Robert Wiene Screenwriters: Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer By Roderick Heath Imagine what it must have been like, to be someone who just bought a ticket to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari way back in 1919. Perhaps some ex-soldier just back from the abandoned trenches, curious to see that crazy new film someone …

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A Trip to the Moon (Voyage dans la lune, 1902)

Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Georges Méliès By Roderick Heath On the 27th of December, 1895, Georges Méliès attended a special event arranged by the inventor brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière. The brothers had recently perfected the machine they called the cinematograph—a creation that combined functions of moving picture camera, processor, and projector—and had been showing off the results …

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Wings (1927)

Director: William A. Wellman By Roderick Heath F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) might have won the perhaps more elevated “Most Artistic Production” Oscar amongst the first year’s roll of award winners, but Wings, which took the award for “Best Production,” has been inscribed in posterity as the legendary precursor of every …

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Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, 1922)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The shadow of Fritz Lang’s early work still falls heavily not just upon many filmmakers, but also upon a swathe of modern pop culture. The remarkable run of movies he made before he was driven to leave Germany by the Nazi ascension helped define, if not originate, a handful …

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The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen, 1921)

Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Victor Sjöstrom By Roderick Heath The Phantom Carriage has a power which almost defies description, a sense of an overwhelming darkness crowding the edges of the frame and corroding the very flesh and spirit of the characters on screen. It’s a tale of damnation, for whatever remains after death but also on earth too, …

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Die Nibelungen: Siegfried / Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey Through Adventure Film Director: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The ancient Germanic and Scandinavian tales of Siegfried or Sigurd were vital building blocks for much middle and northern European folk culture. This was true long before Richard Wagner conflated them for his delirious, impossibly long, musically ostentatious opera …

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Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Director/Coscreenwriter: F. W. Murnau By Roderick Heath Early cinema had no shortage of great innovators whose names roll off the tongue of any film lover, but D.W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau stand as perhaps the signal triumvirate of the medium’s formative influences, with Griffith as grammarian, Eisenstein as architect, and Murnau as …

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