CINEMA TOP 20: Our List of Most Powerful Movies from the World of Cinema

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature


Note: This post is a part of our Best of the Best Blogathon 

We, at A Potpourri of Vestiges, proudly present to our readers a list of carefully picked 20 avant-garde, auteur-driven, and thought-provoking cinematic gems from the world of cinema. While the idea was to be true to all streams of cinema, we have consciously tried to bring into the limelight the movies that are fast fading into obscurity owing to the upsurge of escapist commercial cinema. 

# 20

Metropolis (1927), Directed by Fritz Lang


metropolis, fritz lang

Summary: 
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

One of the earliest attempts at Science-Fiction in the world of Cinema, Austrian-American auteur Fritz Lang's Metropolis is arguably the finest specimen of movie-making to have emerged during the silent era. Metropolis is set in a futuristic world where the society is divided into the working class—doomed to live in the lower depths of the city—and the ruling class—destined to live lavishly in grand tower complexes. Metropolis, a landmark in technique and style, has been inspiring movie-makers from all across the globe for last eight decades and it continues to enjoy the apotheosis that it has so deservedly attained.

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# 19 

Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Directed by Sergio Leone


once upon a time in america, sergio leone

Summary: 
A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to Brooklyn over 30 years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.

Directed by Italian auteur Sergio Leone, Once Upon a Time in America was Leone's dream project and it took him almost two decades to realize it. Once Upon a Time in America is a testament to Leone's penchant for Cinema and his absolute adherence to its free spirit as an Art form. Sergio Leone had to pay collaterally by having to make five Westerns in order to get the funding for his dream project and magnum opus, Once Upon a time in America, which ironically is not as renowned as his ‘Spaghetti’ classics. Leone also gave away the chance to direct 'The Godfather' in order to realize his dream project. Once Upon a Time in America  succeeds at multiple levels and makes the viewer go through an entire gamut of emotions. Vintage Leone, it manages to pack a strong punch at both the emotional and the psychological levels.

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# 18

Harakiri (1962), Directed by Masaki Kobayashi


Harakiri, masaki kobayashi

Summary: 
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.

Directed by Japanese movie-maker Masaki Kobayashi, Harakiri is a 1962 chanbara film starring Japanese movie icon Tatsuya Nakadai. In the early 1950s Japanese moviemaker Akira Kurosawa acquainted the West to 'chanbara' cinema through a series of swashbuckling motion-pictures like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, The Throne of Blood, and The Hidden Fortress. Kurosawa’s chanbara movies celebrated and glamorized samurai tradition and warfare and often eschewed from presenting the harsh realities associated with the samurai way of life. While Akira Kurosawa succeeded in painting an enchanting world of grandeur where a samurai is deemed as the master of his fate, he failed to highlight the austerity associated with the life of a samurai imposed upon him by the code of Bushido. A samurai, like any warrior, relied on the factory called ‘war’ to earn a living. Unlike a normal worker who needs peace to thrive, a samurai earned his livelihood by basking in the glory of war. Unfortunately, in the days of peace, the glory quickly faded away as his services were rendered useless by his masters. Also, the incessant wars often created shortages that prevailed even in the days of peace. With his back against the wall, a samurai wasn't left with many options to live an honorable life, often leaving him with one last resort, that of Harakiri. Masaki Kobayashi was one of the very few filmmakers of his time who succeeded in presenting this stark reality associated with the life of a samurai with great conviction and humility on the celluloid. Harakiri serves to be an unparalleled cinematic achievement that adds a whole new dimension to ‘chanbara’ or ‘samurai’ cinema.

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# 17

Battleship Potemkin (1925), Directed by Segei M. Eisenstein


Battleship Potemkin, Directed by Segei M. Eisenstein


Summary: 
A dramatized account of a great Russian naval mutiny and a resulting street demonstration which brought on a police massacre.

Directed by Russian maestro Sergei M. Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin is widely regarded as a landmark in movie-making. Eisenstein, who is regarded as the father of montagethe articulation of time in cinematic parlance—in the world of Cinema, leveraged upon Battleship Potemkin to test his cinematic theories that led to the birth of  montage in cinema. The camera and editing techniques used in Battleship Potemkin were responsible for setting a whole new trend in Cinema. In Battleship Potemkin, Eisenstein experimented with editing techniques to trigger emotional responses from his audience which was a simple characterization of propaganda so that the audience could be directed to agree with a particular point of view. Battleship Potemkin, touted as one of the most influential propaganda films of all time, was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958.

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# 16

The Maltese Falcon (1941), Directed by John Huston


The Maltese Falcon (1941), Directed by John Huston

Summary: 
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Seven decades have passed but the suspense and thrill of The Maltese Falcon still reign supreme. The Maltese Falcon despite being shot in black & white, still appears to be strikingly refreshing both to the eyes as well as the intellect. Primarily remembered as John Huston's directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon played a decisive role in giving Film-Noir its true identity as a genre. The Maltese Falcon also gave Humphrey Bogart his highly deserved super-stardom that had hitherto eluded him. In this Noir masterpiece, Huston creates an environment of suspicion, doubt and uncertainty that is so convoluted that even Hitchcock would be proud of it. The Maltese Falcon has multiple layers of mystery and suspense that keeps the viewer engaged throughout. The Maltese Falcon is not merely a Noir masterpiece but also a testament to the true spirit of cinema that has kept itself alive despite decades of relentless mutilation and sabotage in the name of commercial movie-making. Despite being devoid of modern-day gimmicks the movie is incredibly high on suspense and holds the viewer in a vice-like grip throughout its run time. The tone of The Maltese Falcon is such that it makes suspense thrillers of today appear like kids cartoon. It's indeed sad that movies like these are seldom made these days.

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# 15

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Directed by Stanley Kubrick


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Summary: 
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 Sci-Fi motion-picture directed by American maestro, Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubric, universally revered for his uncanny moviemaking style and his endless craving for perfection, was arguably Anglo-American Cinema's most potent reply to the 'Fellinis', the 'Bunuels', the 'Bergmans', the 'Kurosawas', the 'Rays', and the 'Tarkovskys' of the world. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey chronicles a series of encounters between humans and mysterious monoliths that seemed to have played a pivotal role in the evolution of human race. The tale begins in the distant past where the apes gain knowledge and wisdom by getting in contact with the primary monolith found on the earth—an episode that marks the beginning of human evolution. Subsequently, the story switches to the distant future when man has embarked on a journey into the outer space; a space voyage is sent to Jupiter to trace a signal emitted by one such monolith found on the moon. The movie played an instrumental role in reinventing the Sci-Fi genre in the world of Cinema. The technology implemented in the movie paved the way for a whole new generation of cinema that started to rely heavily on special effects. 2001: A Space Odyssey encompasses several science fiction themes including including artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life. The movie is universally regarded as a cornerstone in Sci-Fi Cinema along with Andrei Tarkovsky's Solyaris (1972).


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# 14

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Directed by Sergio Leone


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Directed by Sergio Leone

Summary: 
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Directed by Italian auteur Sergio Leone, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a ubiquitously acclaimed Spaghetti Western movie. In the glamorous world of cinema that rides high on its structural inertia it seldom happens that a mere whim succeeds in subverting the paradigm. Incredibly, that's precisely what Sergio Leone accomplished with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Leone changed the very face of the American Old West—driven by the tenets of pride, honor, chivalry and machismo—preached and propagated by the likes of Ford, Hawks and Wayne by limning a far more Brutal and Real picture of the West where greed and lust reign supreme, and where things transcend the stereotypical demarcations of Black, White, Virtue and Vice. Initially used in a derogatory connotation, the term 'Spaghetti Western' soon became a substitute for Italo-Western before getting widely accepted as a sub-genre of Western films. Leone's peculiar style also inspired a hybrid stream in Western film-making—an intermediate between the old Western genre and Leone's Spaghetti Western—best exemplified by Sam Peckinpah's Classic Anti-Western The Wild Bunch (1969), and decades later by Clint Eastwood's Western Masterpiece Unforgiven (1992). The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the third and final installment of Leone's Dollars Trilogy that unarguably also happens to be the best of the lot. The movie presents an epic tale of Greed and Betrayal revolving around the lives of three brutes—two Outlaws and a Bounty Hunter—set against the backdrop of the American Civil War. Initially aimed to be a tongue-in-cheek satire on run-of-the-mill westerns, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has stood the test of time for over four decades. Today, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is widely regarded as the best Western movie of all time. The movie is an epitome of style and substance, and is a must watch for cinema lovers.

In order to read the complete review, please click on the following link:



# 13

A Clockwork Orange (1971), Directed by Stanley Kubrick 


A Clockwork Orange (1971), Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Summary: 
In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem... but not all goes to plan.

A Clockwork Orange is a highly controversial 1971 crime drama directed by American auteur Stanley Kubrick. A Clockwork Orange is an adaptation of a 1962 novel of the same name by author Anthony Burgess. In the movie Kubrick presents a cynical picture of the diabolical world that humans have created for themselves. The protagonist of the story is a perverted youth named Alex DeLarge (masterfully played by Malcolm Mcdowell) who has a strong predilection for music, rape and violence, which he eloquently refers to as 'ultraviolence'. Alex and his notorious group habitually beat up vagabonds and rape women by sneaking into their houses. While going about his usual business, Alex is caught red-handed while his gang members manage to escape. He is sent to a penitentiary to serve a fourteen-year sentence but after completing two years he signs for a special rehabilitation programme for the criminals sponsored by the State authorities. During the programme, Alex undergoes complete reformation but not without some serious repercussions. In the movie, Kubrick demonstrates in his trademark cutthroat style that in the contemporary world there is only a fine line that separates 'right' from 'wrong', 'good' from 'evil', and that people often fail to fathom which side of the line they are on while fighting their pseudo-battles of morality. A Clockwork Orange also serves to a social satire that deals with issues of human morality and psychology. Kubrick uses his craft to weave his magic by offering a cinematic masterpiece that's unparalleled on technical as well as emotional fronts.

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# 12

The Godfather (1972), Directed by Francis Ford Coppola


The Godfather (1972), Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Summary: 
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

The Godfather, based on a best selling novel by renowned novelist Mario Puzo, presents a naked insight into the clandestine world of New York Mafia headed over by Don Vito Corleone. Francis Ford Coppola directs The Godfather with a scalpel like precision, and fully succeeds in bringing Puzo's larger than life characters to life on the celluloid. Coppola entrusts none other than Puzo himself for the movie's screenplay. In the crime saga that revolves around the Corleone crime family, Puzo presents in a cutthroat fashion an eclectic blend of Crime, Suspense, and Drama that immures the viewer in a vice-like grip from the breathtaking inception to the blood-cuddling finale. Nino Rota's hypnotic music enriches The Godfather with an ineffable sense of poignancy while its vivid cinematography features amongst the best works of its time. The Godfather is a cinematic extravaganza that is widely regarded by many as the best motion picture of all time. Nigh flawless and ubiquitously acclaimed for being in a league of its own, The Godfather doesn't depict poetic justice, but it rather portrays the triumph of puissance over pusillanimity in the most ruthless manner. The Godfather is not just a movie but is an experience of a lifetime that has risen above the limits of mortality only to attain a highly deserved apotheosis.

In order to read the complete review, please click on the following link:



# 11

Citizen Kane (1941), Directed by Orson Welles


citizen kane, orson welles

Summary: 
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Citizen Kane is a 1941 movie directed by iconic American auteur  Orson Welles. Welles' magnum opus, Citizen Kane is touted in American movie circles as the greatest motion picture of all time. Citizen Kane undoubtedly represents the best that American Cinema has ever offered to the world. American Film Institute (AFI) has acknowledged the movie’s indelible impact on American Cinema by bestowing it with the top spot in its all time list of greatest cinematic gems. Citizen Kane is a technical marvel that has stood the test of time for well over six decades; the technological and creative innovation incorporated by Welles and his team is far ahead of the time. Citizen Kane pioneered the use of time switching and special effects as epiphanic phenomena in the world of Cinema. Citizen Kane pioneered the use of time switching and special effects as epiphanic phenomena in the world of Cinema. The camera plays a pivotal role in character development through the entire length of the movie as Welles uses it to brutally capture the different moods of his characters as they encounter different circumstances during their lifespan. In Citizen Kane, Welles makes Cinema touch new highs and lows, thus instilling even the most indifferent viewer with a completely new zeal and understanding for Cinema. Citizen Kane is a living testament to the infinite potential of Cinema as an art form, and as a great source of knowledge and learning. 

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# 10

Pather Panchali (1955), Directed by Satyajit Ray 


Pather Panchali (1955), Directed by Satyajit Ray

Summary: 
Sometime in the early years of the century, a boy, Apu, is born to a poor Brahmin family in a village in Bengal. The father, a poet and priest, cannot earn enough to keep his family going. 

Pather Panchali is a 1955 Bangla drama motion-picture directed by legendary Indian moviemaker Satyajit Ray. The movie is based on a 1929 novel of the same name by Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay. Pather Panchali is the first part of Ray's world renowned The Apu Trilogy that depicts the troubled, poverty-striken life (right from his childhood to maturity) of the movie's protagonist, Apu, in the backdrop of the early 20th century Bengal. Pather Panchali was the first motion-picture from independent India to receive global critical acclaim. The movie won "Best Human Document" at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, catapulting Satyajit Ray into a major league of international movimakers that included the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and Luis Bunuel. Today, Pather Panchali is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. Pather Panchali is a poignant tale of human survival against the perpetual treats posed by life and nature. Amidst widespread despondence, in young, tenaciously naughty Apu we get to witness the greatest human abilities: that of survival and revival. It's worth mentioning that it was Vittorio Sica's Neo-Realistic masterpiece Bicycle thieves that had inspired Satyajit Ray to adapt the novel into the movie. The next two parts of The Apu Trilogy, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, have also attained the status of classics. It wouldn't be a hyperbole to say that even today the global audience relate to Indian Cinema through Satyajit Ray's epic trilogy.

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# 9

Bicycle Thieves (1948), Directed by Vittorio De Sica


Bicycle Thieves (1948), Directed by Vittorio De Sica

Summary: 
A man and his son search for a stolen bicycle vital for his job.

Bicycle Thieves is an Italian neo-realist film by Vittorio De Sica. Italian neo-realism, a naturalistic movement in Italian cinema of the 1940s that aimed at giving cinema a new degree of realism, promoted the use of an amateur cast vis-à-vis a professionally trained one and advocated shooting at real locations instead of the custom-built sets & studios. Bicycle Thieves tells the story of a poor worker searching the streets of Rome for his stolen bicycle, which he needs to keep his job. The screenplay is simplistic, thought-provoking and at times nakedly brutal, while the cinematography is so effortless and magnificently beautiful that it appears as though a soul of a man has been filmed, and its true essence has been captured and preserved. The poignancy of the background score casts such a sustained spell that the movie experience is enhanced beyond imagination. American playwright Arthur Miller called it a lyrical masterpiece as it examines openly the destructive and draconian world man has made for himself. Bicycles thieves is a cinematic magnum opus, which accentuates the true might of cinema, and is a must for everyone, irrespective of cast, color, creed or gender. Bicycle Thieves an ageless cinema for people of all age groups. Bicycle Thieves, having inspired filmmakers from all across the globe for over six decades, continues to stand tall as the epitome of moviemaking in the world of cinema


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# 8

Rashomon (1950), Directed by Akira Kurosawa


Rashomon (1950), Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Summary: 
A man and his son search for a stolen bicycle vital for his job.

Rashomon is a world renowned drama film directed by master Japanese moviemaker Akira Kurosawa. In Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa presents an intriguing tale of a Bandit, a Samurai and his wife that helped testify the subjectivity of truth for the first time on the celluloid. Rashomon highlights the discrepancies among the different versions of the same incident (as narrated by the different individuals) as a medium to depict the irrational complexities associated with the human psyche. Rashomon pioneered Akira Kurosawa'sdream tryst with perpetual brilliance and undoubtedly played a pivotal part in making his name a mark of excellence in the world of cinema. Vintage Rashomon, such effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection in the modern day parlance is more commonly known as The Rashomon Effect. The concept of Rashomon, though well ahead of its time, sowed the seeds for creative innovation in the world of cinema and has served as the undisputed benchmark of innovative excellence for well over five decades.

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# 7

8½ (1963), Directed by Federico Fellini 


otto e mezzo, 81/2, federico fellini

Summary: 
A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

8½ (Otto e Mezzo) is a 1963 drama-cum-fantasy film directed by Italian virtuoso Federico Fellini starring renowned Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni in the lead role. In what is widely described as the Italian maestro's autobiographical work, Fellini presents the tale of a famous Italian filmmaker who, troubled by his writers, producers, poor heath, and more so by the women in his life, is going through a difficult phase in his life as he finds it excruciatingly challenging to come to terms with the root cause of all his problems: his own lack of creativity and artistic vision. In a series of inseparable dream-like sequences and flashbacks, we get to witness his innermost fears, desires and fantasies as he tries to find the solutions to his problems. The movie won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design. Otto e Mezzo is universally acknowledged as an avant-garde, timeless classic. The fact that Otto e Mezzo was ranked third best film of all time in a 2002 poll of film directors conducted by the British Film Institute testifies the kind of influence that the movie has had on the world of cinema for last five decades or so.


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# 6

An Andalusian Dog (1929), Directed by Luis Buñuel


An Andalusian Dog (1929), Directed by Luis Buñuel

Summary: 
In a dream-like sequence, a woman's eye is slit open—juxtaposed with a similarly shaped cloud obscuring the moon moving in the same direction as the knife through the eye—to grab the audience's attention. 

Spanish moviemaker, Luis Bunuel is regarded by many as the pioneer of Surrealism in cinema. Surrealism is a 20th century avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example the irrational juxtaposition of images. The silent movie is a sequence of bizarre and surreal images: a straight razor seems to be placed by a woman's eye; a small cloud formation obscures the moon; a cow's eye is slit open; a woman pokes at a severed hand in the street with her cane; a man drags two grand pianos containing dead and rotting donkeys and live priests; and a man's hand has a hole in the palm from which ants emerge. An Andalusian Dog (1929) was Bunuel’s maiden attempt at Surrealism, through which he not only opened the doors for the irrational and the inconceivable on the celluloid, but also added a new dimension to the hitherto stereotypical cinema.

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# 5

The Seventh Seal (1957), Directed by Ingmar Bergman


The Seventh Seal (1957), Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Summary: 
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

The Seventh Seal is a 1957 motion-picture written and directed by legendary Swedish filmmaker Ernst Ingmar Bergman. The Seventh Seal is based on a play called ‘Wood Painting’ written by Bergman himself. The Seventh Seal catapulted Bergman to the stature of an auteur par-excellence, thus marking the beginning of his tryst with cinematic brilliance that would continue for almost five decades. The Seventh Seal introduced Swedish Cinema to the West in the same way as Rashomon had introduced Japanese Cinema and Kurosawa to the Occident. Today, The Seventh Seal, having stood the test of time for over five decades, is touted as one of the most influential movies of all time that still continues to inspire movie-makers and movies worldwide. The plot of The Seventh Seal revolves around a disenchanted Swede knight Antonious Block , who returns home after years of relentless fighting in the Crusades, giving a metaphorical account of his epic game of chess with the Grim Reaper—The Personification of Death. The Seventh Seal demonstrates the true power and purpose of Cinema by serving to be a quintessential work on existentialism. In movie, Bergman is at his most imaginative and insightful in portraying the epic battle of life versus death. The Seventh Seal complements brilliantly the themes of melancholy and pessimism with those of euphoria and optimism. The movie also demonstrates the human ability to rise after a fall, the very ability that given him the power to snatch victory even from the jaws of defeat. The Seventh Seal is a great means to get acquainted with Bergman’s body of work before exploring his exceedingly challenging works
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# 4

Solyaris (1972), Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky


Solyaris (1972), Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Summary: 
The Solaris mission has established a base on a planet that appears to host some kind of intelligence, but the details are hazy and very secret. 

Solyaris is a 1972 Sci-Fi movie directed by Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky. Solyaris is an adaptation of the 1962 science fiction novel Solaris by the the Polish author Stanisław Lem that talks about the inadequacy of communication between the humans and the extraterrestrial world. The plot of the movie revolves around the Solaris mission under which scientists have established a base on a remote planet that seems to exhibit some mysterious phenomenon. The team of scientists are experiencing a tough time living in utter isolation and a troubled psychologist named Kris Kelvin is sent from earth to help them out. In Solyaris, we get to witness how Kris copes up with his inner traumas, augmented by a mysterious force, while still trying to help the scientists who are gradually entering a state of dementia. Having explored the world of cinema for over half a decade, I feel privileged to have watched Tarkovsky's Solyaris. Never before in my life had I ever experienced something so shattering and complete, something that left me humbled, mesmerized and perplexed as a movie viewer. Tarkovsky's Solyaris, which operates in the upper most echelons of cinema, deals with some of the most complex themes ever touched upon in the world of Cinema: be it artificial intelligence, psychology, extraterrestrial life, existentialism and empiricism. The ideas which have been propounded in Solyaris are developed further by Tarkovsky in Stalker (1979). The slow, complex narrative of Solyaris is in direct contrast to the the Sci-Fi movies of the west which rely heavily on their fast-paced narrative and use of special-effects. In my personal opinion, Tarkovsky's Solyaris and Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey together encompass the entire science fiction genre without leaving any avenue untrodden. Today, Solyaris is widely regarded as one of the finest achievements in moviemaking. M. Galina, in his 1997 article Identifying Fears, touted Solyaris as "one of the biggest events in the Soviet science fiction cinema" and as "one of the few works that does not seem anachronistic nowadays."      

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# 3

Stalker (1979), Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky


Stalker (1979), Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Summary: 
A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

Stalker is a 1979 motion-picture directed by Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky that’s loosely based on a short science fiction novel Roadside Picnic. Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker (1979) is regarded by many as a archetype in Existential Cinema that presents cinema at its most enigmatic. The synergy of its hypnotic background score and picturesque cinematography makes the movie poignant as well as visually stunning. A ‘Stalker’ is a guide who takes people through ‘The Zone’, a place located outside an unidentified city, the result of an extra-terrestrial incursion. The State has closed it off from the outside world and is closely guarded. Inside it, there is ‘The Room’, which is said to grant ones deepest wish to anybody who enters it. The movie had been shot on an experimental film and couldn't be developed. The incident nearly destroyed Tarkovsky, who eventually reshot it with a highly reduced budget. The movie presents a deep insight into the complexities associated with life, while simultaneously questioning some of the established beliefs. Today, Stalker is widely regarded, in film circles, as one of the finest specimens of movie-making. In fact, it’s well on its way to attain apotheosis, if it hadn't already, along with some of the other masterpieces made by Andrei Tarkovsky.

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# 2

Dersu Uzala (1975), Directed by Akira Kurosawa


Dersu Uzala (1975), Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Summary: 
The Russian army sends an explorer on an expedition to the snowy Siberian wilderness where he makes friends with a seasoned local hunter.

Dersu Uzala is a Russian motion picture directed by Japanese maestro Akira Kurosawa. Dersu Uzala is not merely a landmark in art cinema, but is also a living proof that greatness can be accomplished even through sheer simplicity. And for this very reason, Dersu Uzala also happens to be an all time favorite movie of mine. Dersu Uzala went on to win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in the year 1976. Akira Kurosawa made Dersu Uzala with Russian collaboration at a time when no Japanese producer was willing to back a project involving Kurosawa—this was after Kurosawa's first color motion-picture Dodesukaden had failed miserably at the box office, thereby leaving his newly established production studio in a state of shambles. Dersu Uzala is a poignant tale of trust, friendship, and respect that serves to be an experience of a lifetime. Dersu Uzala, besides being one of Kurosawa's greatest masterpieces, is one of those rare cinematic gems which can be relished again and again, each time with a completely different view point. Dersu Uzala is the only movie that Kurosawa made in a language other than Japanese, and with it Kurosawa proved it once and for all that cinema at its most pristine knows no bounds or barriers. It is Dersu Uzala's unparalleled power of simplicity and pristineness that makes it one of a kind. 

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# 1

Ran (1985), Directed by Akira Kurosawa


Ran (1985), Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Summary: 
An elderly lord abdicates to his three sons, and the two corrupt ones turn against him.

Ran, which literally means 'mayhem', is probably cinema's greatest rendition of a Shakespearean Epic, manifested ironically by an Oriental movie-maker. Adapted by Akira Kurosawa from Shakespeare's King Lear, Ran undoubtedly features amongst the best works of the master auteur. Kurosawa, however, got the inspiration for Ran from a Japanese parable about a ferocious warlord that he read in the 1970s. It was only later on that he became aware of the plot’s peculiar similarity to King Lear. He himself found it inexplicable the way the two ostensibly different plots got entwined giving rise to a magnum opus called Ran that would go on to become the epitome of Japanese heritage in the world of cinema. Kurosawa wrote the script for Ran shortly after completing his lyrical ode, Dersu Uzala in 1975, only to let it brew for seven more years. During the hiatus, he painted storyboards for each and every shot in the movie, while simultaneously searching for funds. Kurosawa made his great Samurai masterpiece, Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) in the year 1980. The movie’s gradual success eventually bagged Kurosawa the financial backing of French producer Serge Silberman for his dream project, Ran. It is for this reason that he often referred to Kagemusha as a 'dry run' for Ran. The brilliantly captured scenes in Ran are breath-taking to say the least, especially the war scene that depicts fate casting the final blow to the ruthless reign of the warlord. The brutality and the bloodshed depicted in the very scene can make even a cold-blooded appear jittery. Ran is a classic example of Akira Kurosawa's mastery as a movie-maker, and perhaps a consummation of his apotheosis. Over the last five decades, several stalwarts from the world of cinema including Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, and Peter Brook have tried adapting this timeless tale but only Kurosawa's Ran, perhaps with the likely exception of Soviet director Grigori Kozintsev’s Korol Lir (1971), has succeeded in coming this close to perfection. It's incredible to note that during the filming of Ran, Kurosawa was almost completely blind, and his assistants had to solely rely on his verbal direction and the many canvases he had painted prior to the start of movie's production. 

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— Murtaza Ali



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14 comments:

  1. have bookmarked this page :) thank you

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  2. Thanks Shamsud... would love to hear from you again :-)

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  3. A fine list, Murtaza. There are three here I haven't seen, the Ray, the Russian Kurosawa, and Citizen Kane. An odd omission for a movie buff I know. I've seen most of it in parts, just never properly all the way through. The rest I make no argument against, they are all among the finest examples of cinema. My personal list, if I had one, would share several of these titles, though perhaps might have a little more French in it.

    I do have a stylistic tip. Use a plain text editor, or paste the text into the HTML tab instead of the Compose tab, and then perform any necessary formatting using the post editor, because a regular copy and paste from a word processor also copies hidden formatting tags that conflict with Blogger's CSS, as you can see from the inconsistent spacing and font sizes. Otherwise great post!

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  4. Subhorup DasguptaJune 29, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    great list, and from my perspective a very courageous one. not easy to pull the fellinis, the bunuels and the kubricks and the coppolas into one list, but yours works.

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  5. I am glad that you liked it! This is just the first of many lists that will feature on A Potpourri of Vestiges. So, stay tuned :-)

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  6. Thanks Bonjour for the great advice... will surely try to incorporate the idea in my future posts!!! Btw, I am glad that you liked the list. From a very long time, I have been wanting to explore French Cinema at large but haven't really succeeded in my endeavor. It would be great if you could recommend 5-10 of your all time favorite French movies, which would help me make a foray into this new avenue. Also, I bet that you wouldn't be able to resist the above three movies for long :-)

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  7. Here's ten off the top of my head, in no particular order: Atalante, Le Samourai, Last Year at Marienbad, Céline et Julie vont en bateau, Breathless, Orphée, Elevator to the Gallows, Jules and Jim, Les diaboliques, Pickpocket

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  8. merci beaucoup :-)

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  9. great post... although twenty is a small list... but you put some greats together... and loved the fact that you focussed on world movies not only english

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  10. I am glad that you liked the list! In the days to come we plan to come up with many more features dealing with different aspects of cinema. I hope you will find them interesting as well :-)

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  11. wonderful compilation!! Have seen most of the movies and hopefully will be able to watch whichever I haven't.
    Thanks! : )

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  12. I am glad that you liked it... just stay tuned to our blog for more such features on cinema!!! :-)

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  13. Excellent list! I am afraid I have watched none of them :( I think I have to lay my hands on these now. Thanks! a lot for sharing this under your expertise critic hat! :)

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  14. Thanks Tanya for sharing your valuable thoughts... I am glad you found the article useful :-)

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