Originally released in 1902, this legendary 16-minute film is widely considered to be one of the most important works in film history. Created just six years after the invention of cinema this is where narrative cinema truly began. George Melies' masterpiece features six members of the Astronomers' Club, fired into space by a giant cannon, on a strange and wonderful journey to the moon to meet its inhabitants. The colour version of A Trip to the Moon, hand-painted frame by frame, was considered lost for many years, until a print, in a desperate condition, was found in Spain in 1993. It is this version which has been meticulously restored by Lobster Films, the Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage - one of the most sophisticated and expensive restorations in the history of cinema. The luminous resulting film is accompanied by a new original soundtrack by French duo AIR. Accompanying the film is an hour long documentary, The Extraordinary Voyage, detailing the restoration process and featuring words from esteemed directors such as Michel Gondry, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Costa-Gavras and Michel Hazanavicius.
"The Great Train Robbery" is a 1903 American silent short Western film written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter, a former Edison Studios cameraman. Actors in the movie included Alfred C. Abadie, Broncho Billy Anderson and Justus D. Barnes, although there were no credits. Though a Western, it was filmed in Milltown, New Jersey. The film was inspired by Scott Marble's 1896 stage play, and may also have been inspired by a 1900 train robbery perpetrated by Butch Cassidy. At twelve minutes long, 'The Great Train Robbery' film is considered a milestone in film making, expanding on Porter's previous work 'Life of an American Fireman'. The film used a number of then-unconventional techniques, including composite editing, on-location shooting, and frequent camera movement. The film is one of the earliest to use the technique of cross cutting, in which two scenes are shown to be occurring simultaneously but in different locations. Some prints were also hand colored in certain scenes. Techniques used in 'The Great Train Robbery' were inspired by those used in Frank Mottershaw's British film 'A Daring Daylight Burglary', released earlier in the year. Film historians now largely consider 'The Great Train Robbery' to be the first American action film and the first Western film with a "recognizable form". In 1990, 'The Great Train Robbery' was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Based on a best-selling novel and negrophobic play called 'The Clansman', he produced a three-hour epic that, in 1915, set a new standard for film production and absorbing melodrama. It follows the lives of two white families divided by. and enduring, the American Civil War, and includes elaborate cameos of historical events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Costing the then unprecedented sum of $100,000 to make, it opened in Los Angeles on 8 February 1915 and quickly became the most successful silent film ever made. It grossed over $10 million on its first release. Many denounced its overt racism and wars with the censors were used for publicity with brilliant effect. Social reformers constantly denounced the film's racism and historians protested about its claims to historical accuracy. Wherever it was shown, protests, and sometimes riots, ensued and authorities frequently enforced cuts of the more offensive parts of the film.
A legendary early masterpiece of French cinema, 'Les Vampires' follows the exploits of a nefarious band of master criminals led by the seductive femme fatale Irma Vep, alluringly played by Musidora. Holding Paris in the grip of terror, the underworld gang are pursued across the city by heroic journalist Philippe Guerande and his sidekick Mazamatte. Reflecting the mood of fear and anxiety in World War I era France, this meticulously restored ten-part silent serial from film pioneer Louis Feuillade - creator the acclaimed Fantomas serials - is a hugely influential and engrossing crime drama from cinema's golden age.
After shaking the world with his hugely controversial epic 'The Birth of a Nation', pioneer filmmaker D. W. Griffith spared no expense in putting together his next project: a powerful examination of intolerance as it has persisted throughout civilisation, set across four parallel storylines that span 2500 years. There is the Babylonian story, depicting nothing less than the fall of Babylon; the Judean story, which revolves around the crucifixion of Christ; the French story, which presents the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in all its horror; and a modern American story of class struggle, crime, and the plight of life in the early 20th century set within urban slums and the prison system. Starring such luminaries as Lillian Gish, Constance Talmadge, and Miriam Cooper, who share screentime with an enormous main cast and some 3,000 extras, Griffith's film - the most expensive motion picture ever produced at the time - went on to become a critical success whose influence has only grown in the decades since.
At a local carnival in a small German town, hypnotist Dr. Caligari presents the somnambulist Cesare, who can purportedly predict the future of curious fairgoers. But at night, the doctor wakes Cesare from his sleep to enact his evil bidding...
What Cheng Huan sees of the behaviour of 'westerners' in China convinces him that he should take the teachings of Buddha abroad for the enlightenment of others less fortunate than himself. On arriving in London's Limehouse as a missionary, he is quickly disillusioned by the locals' reluctance to accept his teachings of peace and embarks on a life as small shopkeeper - with occasional visits to the local Chinese entertainments. Battling Burrows is a xenophobic prizefighter who's fond of drink and womanising. His adopted fifteen year-old daughter, Lucy, is frequently the convenient outlet for his temper and he beats her regularly. She is underfed and wears ragged clothes but, whilst shopping, is noticed by Cheng Huan as the priceless young beauty that she is. Following a savage beating, Lucy escapes and collapses in Cheng Huan's shop. He, lovingly, takes care of her, feeds her well and dresses her in beautiful silks.An acquaintance of Burrows discovers Lucy while Cheng Huan has to go across the street to get change for half-a-crown. On hearing the intelligence that his daughter is with a foreigner, Burrows visits the shop while the shopkeeper is out, smashes everything in sight and takes Lucy home and beats her so badly that she dies. On finding Lucy missing and the havoc caused by Burrows' rage, Cheng Huan takes a pistol and embarks on the final act of retribution in this sad, and very violent, melodrama.
The original billing by D.W.Griffith as "A Simple Story of Plain People" understates the scale and significance of his most ambitious production to that date. There are no spectacular settings, no armies of extras, no highly paid stars, but costs mounted while Griffith waited for the seasons to change and nature to produce the wondrous effects which he used magnificently to reflect the emotional states of the characters expertly combined with small passages of comic relief.
Southern negro Sylvia Landry (Evelyn Preer) visits her cousin Alma (Flo Clements) in the north, where there is less racial prejudice than in her home town of Piney Woods in the deep south, and is anxiously awaiting her fiancé, Conrad (James D. Ruffin). But Alma has designs on Conrad and tricks Sylvia into a compromising situation when he arrives, and he abandons her. Disheartened, she returns to Piney Woods to help a reverend running a school for young negroes. Sylvia learns that the reverend hasn't the heart to turn away poor students, and unless he can raise $5,000 to supplement the $1.49 per child per year that the state supplies, the school will be closed. She goes up north again to try to raise the money and has little success, but meets kindly negro, Dr. V. Vivian (Charles D. Lucas), who helps her regain her stolen purse. When she saves a child from being hit by an auto, she herself is slightly injured. But the owner of the car is philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick (Mrs. Evelyn), who is sympathetic to her quest and promises to donate the $5,000 to the school....
Legend has it that whoever is the last person to die on New Year's Eve will be destined to drive the Phantom Carriage, collecting dead souls for a year. When a drunkard is found at the stroke of midnight, the victim of a vicious fight, he is forced to relive his past to see how he and those around him have been destroyed by his selfish and destructive ways. Directed by pioneering Swedish film-maker Victor Sjostrom, The Phantom Carriage is arguably the most influential and enduring horror film of all time. Powerful acting and groundbreaking trick photography lend it an otherworldly atmosphere not since matched in modern cinema. Cited as being one of Ingmar Bergman's primary inspirations, The Phantom Carriage depicted death as a physical and industrious presence, something later echoed in The Seventh Seal.
D.W. Griffith's last great success, Orphans of the Storm is a handsome, whirlwind of a film starring Lillian and Dorothy Gish as sisters during the French Revolution. Orphans is a wonderful showcase for all the techniques that Griffith had developed, mastered and patented since the beginning of his career.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge plays Dr. Mabuse, the criminal mastermind whose nefarious machinations provide the cover for - or describe the result of - the economic upheaval and social bacchanalia at the heart of Weimar-era Berlin. Initiated with the arch-villain's diabolical manipulation of the stock-market, and passing through a series of dramatic events based around hypnotism, charlatanism, hallucinations, Chinese incantations, cold-blooded murder, opiate narcosis and cocaine anxiety, Lang's film maintains an unrelenting power all the way to the final act... which culminates in the terrifying question: "Where is Mabuse?!"
Made in 1922, on location in the Carpathians and several Baltic Towns, Nosferatu is in all but name Bram Stokers Dracula with the lead names changed. Starring Max Schrek as Nosferatu the film relies heavily on lighting, shadow and pictorial compensation. Following closely Bram Stokers novel. Stokers wife took offence and won her case against the producers forcing them to destroy all prints. Luckily a couple survived.
Since its premiere in 1922, Benjamin Christensen’s exploration of the role of superstition in medieval minds has caused an outrage and protest from both the general public and religious groups. Dramatizing satanic activates and rituals including the ways in which suspected witches were tortured and killed, Haxan is a deliriously imaginative masterpiece. Not until its re-release in 1941 did the director earn belated fame and respect – proof that this genre-defying ‘documentary’ was far ahead of its time. In 1968, the film won further praise and a whole new audience when it was re-released with a William Burroughs narration, under the title Witchcraft through the Ages.