As filmmakers, we all
know there’s movies we should watch: classic films, game-changing indies, often-referenced foreign films… yet somehow it’s hard to find the time. That’s what winter break is for! Use your free time to watch movies that changed cinema with new storytelling, innovative technology & exciting ideas.
This month we feature 30 movies that changed cinema forever & have become part of the unique language that all filmmakers understand.
BONUS! All 15 episodes of
The Story Of Film: An Odyssey!!! Classics & Game-Changers
Pather PanchaliImpoverished priest Harihar Ray, dreaming of a better life for himself and his family, leaves his rural Bengal village in search of work. Dir. Satyjit Ray
Sunset BoulevardA screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return. Dir. Billy Wilder
The Day The Earth Stood StillAn alien lands in Washington, D.C. and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. Dir. Robert Wise
Strangers On A TrainA psychopath forces a tennis star to comply with his theory that two strangers can get away with murder. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock Bonus! Watch Throw Momma From The Train
Rear WindowA wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his Greenwich Village courtyard apartment window, and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder, despite the skepticism of his fashion-model girlfriend. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
The BirdsA wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
Blow-UpA fashion photographer unknowingly captures a death on film after following two lovers in a park. Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni
Key LargoA man visits his war buddy’s family hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other. Dir. John Huston
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb An insane American general orders a bombing attack on the Soviet Union, triggering a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop. Dir. Stanley Kubrick
Come And SeeAfter finding an old rifle, a young boy joins the Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces and experiences the horrors of World War II. Dir. Elem Klimov
Das BootThe claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth and sheer terror. Dir. Wolfgang Peterson
Stalker A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes. Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
Yojimbo A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town. Dir. Akira Kurasawa
Cleo From 5 To 7Cleo, a singer and hypochondriac, becomes increasingly worried that she might have cancer while awaiting test results from her doctor. Dir. Agnes Varda
The PianoIn the mid-19th century, a mute woman is sent to New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation. Dir. Jane Campion
Aguirre, the Wrath of GodIn the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado. Dir. Werner Herzog
Down By LawTwo men are framed and sent to jail, where they meet a murderer who helps them escape and leave the state. Dir. Jim Jarmusch
Brazil A bureaucrat in a dystopic society becomes an enemy of the state as he pursues the woman of his dreams. Dir. Terry Gilliam
Eraserhead Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child. Dir. David Lynch
Harold And MaudeYoung, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral. Dir. Hal Ashby
Jacob’s LadderMourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death. Dir. Adrian Lyne
M*A*S*HThe staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war. Dir. Robert Altman
The Killing Of A Chinese BookieA proud strip club owner is forced to come to terms with himself as a man when his gambling addiction gets him in hot water with the mob, who offer him only one alternative. Dir. John Cassavetes
The ConversationA paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that the couple he is spying on will be murdered. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Silkwood A worker at a plutonium processing plant is purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing worker safety violations at the plant. Dir. Mike Nichols
The Sweet HereafterA bus crash in a small town brings a lawyer to the town to defend the families, but he discovers that everything is not what it seems. Dir. Atom Egoyan
In The Name Of The FatherA man’s coerced confession to an I.R.A. bombing he did not commit results in the imprisonment of his father as well. An English lawyer fights to free them. Dir. Jim Sheridan
The Virgin SuicidesA group of male friends become obsessed with five mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents in suburban Detroit in the mid 1970s. Dir. Sofia Coppola
Slums Of Beverly HillsIn 1976, a lower-middle-class teenager struggles to cope living with her neurotic family of nomads on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. Dir. Tamara Jenkins
Badlands An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands. Dir. Terrence Malick The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Birth of the Cinema The first two decades of cinema, 1895-1918; its invention in New Jersey and Lyon and its development from a gimmick to a language through the innovation of many technicians and artists.
The Hollywood Dream 1918-1928; the establishment of Hollywood as an industry that produced optimism, romanticism and happy endings; the filmmakers in America and Europe who defied Hollywood fantasy to show a harsh reality in cinema.
The Golden Age of World Cinema 1918-1932, the great rebel filmmakers around the world. Novel and remarkable experiments in silent cinema; French impressionism and surrealism, German expressionism, Soviet, Japanese and Chinese cinematic innovation.
The Arrival of Sound Sound requires the use of sound stages and this effects lighting and cinematography. It looks at the development of film genres in Hollywood: horror films, gangster films, musicals, westerns, comedies, & animated cartoons. It then looks overseas to look at the work of French filmmakers.
Post-War Cinema Looking at film-making during & immediately after World War II. Hollywood films shift away from soft focus and begin to use the techniques of deep staging and deep focus; Italian Neorealism & Noir evolve, American Cinema remains popular.
Sex & Melodrama The period of 1953-1957. Examines how sex & melodrama dominated the period. It looks at the work of directors in Egypt, India, China, Japan, Brazil, & Mexico. In the US, films start to examine repressed sexuality.
European New Wave European cinema in the period of 1957-1964. It first looks at the works of influential directors Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Jacques Tati, and Federico Fellini. It examines the French New Wave Movement. It then looks at New Wave filmmakers in Italy, Spain & Sweden.
New Directors, New Form Cinema in the period of 1965-1969 when New Wave Cinema swept the world and gave rise to a whole new generation of filmmakers.
American Cinema of the 70s American cinema in the period of 1967-1979 also known as New American Cinema. Films of this time generally fell into three types: satirical films that mocked society & the times, dissident films that challenged the conventional style of cinema, & assimilationist films that rework old studio genres with new techniques.
Movies to Change the World World cinema in the period of 1969-1979. It looks at the work of filmmakers in Germany (Wim Wenders, R. W. Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, and Werner Herzog), Italy (Pier Paolo Pasolini and Bernardo Bertolucci), Britain (Ken Russell, Donald Cammell, and Nicolas Roeg), Australia (Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong), and Japan (Noriaki Tsuchimoto and Kazuo Hara). It also looks at the development of Third Cinema which criticizes the commoditization of film and sees film as a way to fight social injustice.
The Arrival of Multiplexes and Asian Mainstream The development of mainstream film in the 1970s and how such films were innovative. It first looks at the mainstream films of Hong Kong produced by Shaw Brothers Studio. It looks at the work of actor Bruce Lee and directors King Hu, John Woo, Yuen Woo-ping, and Tsui Hark. It then looks at the mainstream Bollywood films of India. It looks at the mega-hit Sholay (1975) and examines work of actress Sharmila Tagore, actor Amitabh Bachchan, and directors K. Asif, and Gulzar. It also examines film in the Middle East.
Fight the Power: Protest in Film Cinema of the 1980s and examines how directors used movies to protest and speak truth to those in power. It first looks at film-makers in Communist China (Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige, and Zhang Yimou) and examines Eastern Europran directors in Georgia (Tengiz Abuladze), the Soviet Union (Elem Klimov, Kira Muratova), and Poland (Krzysztof Kieslowski). It, then, discusses Africa cinema in Burkina Faso (Gaston Kabore) and Mali (Souleymane Cisse). In the United States, films are influenced by music video and the Cold War.
New Boundaries: World Cinema in Africa, Asia & Latin America World cinema in the period of 1990-1998 the waning days of the celluloid era and the birth of the digital age.
New American Independents & the Digital Revolution American and Australia cinema in the 1990s and examines the rise of digital film-making which allows for the crafting of scenes that would otherwise be impossible.
Cinema Today and the Future Film in the 2000’s and innovations that will drive film forward to the future.
These movies are presented in their unedited form as inspiration for Film students and faculty. Some content may be for mature audiences, and viewers should use their own discretion when selecting a film. All ideas presented in these films are the views of their respective creators, and the sharing of these films does not represent an endorsement of the content, filmmaker biography or history of these films by Lesley University faculty or staff.