Francesco Pitassio

Professor, History of Film, DAMS, University of Udine

Italy

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Bicycle Thieves, The

1948

Vittorio de Sica

Fall of the House of Usher, The

1928

Jean Epstein

femme est une femme, Une

1961

Jean-Luc Godard

Grido, Il

1957

Michelangelo Antonioni

M

1931

Fritz Lang

Man with a Movie Camera

1929

Dziga Vertov

Some Like It Hot

1959

Billy Wilder

Sunrise

1927

F. W. Murnau

Vampyr

1932

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

Bycicle Thieves’ mix of traditional dramatic structures with an unprecedented representation of city, characters and social condition is still effective and enormously touching in its depiction of contradictory ethical and political issues. Jean Epstein’s last silent film The Fall of the House of Usher reflects upon vision, time, rhythm and human representation to produce something hypnotically fascinating with unprecedented cinematic power. Positioned at the centre of its director’s career, and at the edge of two very different decades, The Cry depicts an individual crisis that mirrors the general collapse of a mode of production and representation, on the one hand revealing a transformation of reality, and on the other questioning its very status. M is based on highly varied editing patterns, simultaneously portraying the individual and urban condition, experimenting with brilliant combinations of sound and image to become one of the most remarkable achievements of the Weimar era. Among the major achievements of the silent era, Vertov’s masterpiece The Man with the Movie Camera represents a challenge of both image and concept, expanding the range of possibilities and combinations. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is among the most remarkable achievements of silent era. It perfectly represents the combination of German (and Murnau’s) technical and visual achievements and skills with the power of Hollywood productions and supposedly universal morals. Une femme est une femme contains Godard’s conceptual density, packaged in a smart and amusing way. It is both an homage to Anna Karina’s beauty, experienced through the cinematic skin itself (widescreen, Eastmancolor), and a tribute to classical Hollywood comedy – without worrying about narrative verisimilitude. Some Like It Hot is a perfect movie, since it explains that nobody’s perfect. Vampyr is a ghost story told by cinematic ghosts – a subjective camera, double exposures, overexposures – to tell a story of passion and purification. A specific and clear approach determines the whole of Vertigo: a single form rules and shapes its narrative, characters, shots and frames, and constitutes the figure of cinematic melancholia itself.

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