Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

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Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby wpqx » Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:06 pm

Trying to keep this site foreign (for now). Plus I've rehashed a silent film list several times, and would like to just rate the ones made outside of the US.

1. Napoleon (1927) - Abel Gance
2. The Man With a Movie Camera (1929) - Dziga Vertov
3. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) - Carl Theodor Dreyer
4. Variety (1925) - E. A. Dupont
5. Metropolis (1927) - Fritz Lang
6. The General Line (1929) - Sergei Eisenstein
7. Battleship Potemkin (1925) - Sergei Eisenstein
8. Faust (1926) - F. W. Murnau
9. Die Nibelungen (1924) - Fritz Lang
10. Zvenigora (1928) - Alexander Dovzhenko

Well by my list only about two countries made foreign films in the silent era, but hey Germany and the USSR dominated, what can I say?

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby Sara » Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:24 pm

I only have 7 for now that I really liked. (I did not include US or UK films)

Nosferatu- Murnau
Un Chien Andalou - Bunuel/Dali
Faust - Murnau
Man with the Movie Camera - Vortov
Metropolis - Lang
Passion of Joan of Arc - Dreyer
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Wiene

(I need to watch the Battleship Potemkin again because the first time I saw it, it was not one of my favorites...)
I also saw the Chess Player (Bernard) and Bed and Sofa (Room) neither of which I could rave about.

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby Johndav » Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:04 pm

1.Metropolis (Lang)
2.Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
3.Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov)
4.Nosferatu (Murnau)
5.Spies (Lang)
6.The Chess Player (Bernard)
7.The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
8.Vampires (Feuillade)
9.People on Sunday (Siodmak, Ulmer)
10= Pandora's Box (Pabst)
Strike (Eisenstein)
Arsenal (Dovzhenko)
Girl with a Hatbox (Barnet)
Napoleon (Gance)

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby A » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:36 pm

Hmm, I could list The best ten foreign silent films I've seen, but it wouldn't be appropriate, as I haven't seen ten that would deserve to be in such a listing. I know I am in the minority here, but I don't regard several films high enough which many claim to be masterpieces (e.g. Battleship Potemkin, Metropolis, Nosferatu, The last Laugh, Arsenal, to name but a few). And I'm not able to judge some other, rather unknown films which I've seen too long ago, but which i liked very much at that time. Sadly, with such movies one can only HOPE for an opportunity to see them again...
It's a shame that there are still far too little silent films out on DVD.

Instead I will offer a general Top Ten consisting of my favorite silents which I would urge anyone to watch. I promise to kick out the english-"language" ones, when I see more foreign masterpieces.

1. City Lights (Charles Chaplin / USA / 1931)
2. un chien andalou An Andalusian Dog (Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel / France / 1928)
3. The Wind (Victor Sjostrom / USA / 1928)
4. The Gold Rush (Charles Chaplin / USA / 1925)
5. Intolerance: Love's Struggle Through the Ages (David Wark Griffith / USA / 1916)
6. Shoulder Arms (Charles Chaplin / USA / 1918)
7. Die Bergkatze The Wildcat (Ernst Lubitsch / Germany / 1921)
8. Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene / Germany / 1920)
9. Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone / USA / 1923)
10. Greed (Erich von Stroheim / USA / 1924)

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:17 pm

Funny, because I thought I was too Americanized in my list making. Unfortunately some silent films have had too many decades to get stale and pretentious. At their core however there are some really great films out there, and I think Metropolis is one of them, even if it seems too overanalyzed and played out today. Potemkin works separated from film academia, I think its problem is its overinflated reputation. Have you seen any of Sjostrom's Swedish films A? Not saying any of them are better than The Wind, but its certainly a place worth investigating.

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby A » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:14 pm

I like Metropolis very much, and it has moments of cinematic greatness and astonishing beauty in it. But for me, as a whole, it isn't a masterpiece. Potemkin is another matter.
Haven't seen anything else by Sjostrom besides The Wind. It was difficult enough finding even one of his films here in Germany...

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby wpqx » Sat Aug 26, 2006 3:20 pm

I have two more of his American films on VHS somewhere (He Who Gets Slapped and The Scarlet Letter), but haven't been able to see either. As for his Swedish films I've only seen The Outlaw and His Wife and Phantom Chariot, unless of course I'm forgetting something obvious. It sucks so many of his films are lost/impossible to find, because I keep reading (Bordwell mostly) people claiming that he is just as important to the development of cinema as Griffith. That's a bold claim and I'd like more evidence to support it.

Have you seen Old and New/The General Line from Eisenstein? I find it a better film than Potemkin, and far less praised. I recently picked up Bordwell's book on Eisenstein and I must say the man is rather well informed.

Re: Top 10 Foreign Silent Films

Postby A » Sat Aug 26, 2006 5:29 pm

I aslo remember reading a lot on the importance of Sjstrm's early work, and some beautiful still images from his films are still in my mind. But damn, I simply don't have enough money to spend it on blind-buy imports. Hope this will change in the future, but the last couple of years haven't brought a money-fountain, as my wallet usually rather resembles a dry well.

As far as Eisenstein is concerned I'm quite "illiterate". Though I've read some of his early writings (quite interesting), besides Potemkin, I've only seen Alexander Nevsky (1936). Not much from his contemporaries either. Entuziazm (1930) by Vertov, Dezertir (1933) by Pudovkin, and Zvenigora (192 , Arsenal (1929) and Zemlya (1930) by Dovzhenko, which I was all extremely lucky to encounter. Judging on these sparse examples of early soviet filmmaking, all I can say for sure is that these four were remarkable filmmakers who seemed interested mostly in the technical possibilities of the filmic image (and later the sound). That's all extremely interesting to me, but unfortunately the propaganda and their differing ideologies (and "manifestos") often stood in the way. I know that form and ideology couldn't be seperated for them and I just can't disregard that. It's like watching Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will... kind of unhealthy trying to seperate the aesthetics from the ideology.

For example Dovzhenko's films have some of the most ravishing visuals I've ever come to encounter on film. They can compare imo with anything that was ever put on film, and i was completely awestruck when I saw them for the first time. Nevertheless in come the unnecessary "storytelling" and the propaganda, and everything becomes some mumbo-jumbo, when you know that it's not the Bolsheviki or some ideology that will bring freedom to the people. What I criticize about Dovzhenko's effort is mostly the opposite from what I've read from most mainstream-critics. it's the fact that he does try to tell a somewhat coherent story, instead of trusting the images to tell of the true nature of life. Imagine Malick trying to combine his films with a praise of the american way-of-life.

Sadly, the best essays I've read on Dovzhenko's films (or on other early soviet productions) ignore these aspects.
Thus soviet filmmakers who made films of comparable truth and beauty, but with a more personal "ideology", like Tarkovski or Paradjanov rank imo far above any of these.
On the other hand, the theoretical writing by Eisenstein and Vertov, as limited by ideology as it often is, is imo much more interesting than anything Tarkovski has ever put on paper.

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