Here's my list and review of classic movies, mostly silent ones from the 1920s. In no particular order. --- .:: Häxan - 1922 - Sweden and Denmark - Benjamin Christensen ::. A fantastic horror-documentary on witches and the kind of thinking that makes men create them. It takes you on a journey through middle-ages folklore, forcing you to approach the topic from their angle, to then throw you back in reality by taking distance and realizing the mass psychosis. --- .:: The Phantom Carriage - 1921 - Sweden - Victor Sjöström ::. A Scrooge-, or Christmas-Carol-like story twisted to its horror limits. The Swedish cinema of the time did a good job at touching fear, not through rough gore, but through catharsis and existentialism. There's also a hint of inspiration from German expressionism of the time. --- .:: The Phantom of the Opera - 1925 - USA - Rupert Julian ::. The classic story based on the French novel. The American twist on it gave it a raw aspect, focusing on the link between physical deformity and evilness. When watching it you are both stretched between having to sympathize with the Erik, the phantom, being shocked by how people treat him, and also guided by the mob that wants revenge for the senseless murder of their friends. "If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so." --- .:: The Man Who Laughs - 1928 - USA/Germany - Paul Leni ::. As with The Phantom of the Opera, this movie is based on the French novel by Victor Hugo. Also, similarly, it focuses on our biases, our inherent animal disgust and judgement of appearances. The movie makes you become Gwynplaine, the disfigured man, and catapults you in this unfair world where your worst attribute is also your bread-winning attribute, lost between faith and love. This is one of my favorite take on the subject, a must-watch! --- .:: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror - 1922 - Germany - F. W. Murnau ::. A classic remake of the 1897 novel Dracula. The film captures the feeling of impending doom, the plague in an anthropomorphic form. It depicts what carelessness brings with it, joyous days soon being replaced by horror, and only a worthy sacrifice can balance the scale. We're reminded of this, especially during the covid-19 pandemic. The setup is classic but the acting in some part could've been better. --- .:: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans - 1927 - USA - F. W. Murnau ::. This story, or song, is a hidden treasure of emotions, a roller-coaster trip over the human experience where even the protagonists don't seem to be in control. The adventure is clearly defined and at each step we're visiting the extreme version of a vice or virtue. At time, we are taken aback by what is happening, were driven into the story to act for the characters, as they appear only as toys played by fate. Everything collapses and rebuilds itself in the end, a "need for closure" realized to perfection. --- .:: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - 1920 - Germany - Robert Wiene, Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer ::. A story of inception and perception. It confuses the senses through a well-written narrative and decors that are dizzying and sharp. Nothing makes sense until the end, finally guiding the viewers through the last scene and leaving them perplexed by their own subconscious. --- .:: Battleship Potemkin - 1925 - URSS - Sergei Eisenstein ::. This depiction of the Russian mutiny of 1905 carries with it a heavy message, one of hope, of humanness, of fairness, and of a sense of community. It is executed, like a play, in five acts, each building on top of one another and with it the intensity of the action. Every scene galvanizes us, a true masterpiece. --- .:: Nanook of the North - 1922 - USA/Canada - Robert J. Flaherty ::. This documentary on the life of Inuits in the Canadian Arctic offers a lens into their traditional ways of life. Some have argued that during the filming the Inuits were already being influenced by the "Western" ways, but I'd retort that it still does justice to what ancestral techniques they passed down. From igloo building, to hunting, to raising a family in this harsh environment, we are in awe at humanity and how it adapts to every circumstances. --- .:: The Cocoanuts - 1929 - USA - Robert Florey, Joseph Santley ::. .:: Sherlock Jr. - 1924 - USA - Buster Keaton ::. .:: Our Hospitality - 1923 - USA - Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone ::. .:: The Gold Rush - 1925 - USA - Charlie Chaplin ::. Personally, I'm not a fan of the slapstick-like American comedy of the mid-20s. They're fun to watch but quickly lose their appeal. --- .:: Greed - 1924 - USA/Austria - Erich von Stroheim ::. A movie that will disturb you in your inner core. The awkwardness and unease never let go, the sort of clumsiness of Napoleon Dynamite mixed with a Swedish sense of horror. The set-up is a convoluted mesh of non-sense, raw animalistic feelings, disgust, and the environment or survival taking over logic. Definitely, a good watch! --- .:: La Fée aux Choux - 1896 - France - Alice Guy-Blaché ::. One of the first movie to take the viewer on a dream journey, show the possibility of cinema to bring fairy tales to life. --- .:: Le Voyage dans la Lune - 1902 - France - Georges Méliès ::. Similar to the Fée aux Choux, this is a movie that materializes imagination into reality. The author being an illusionist has been able to create the montage and impressive scenes. The comedic aspects make it reflect on colonial times, along with the theatrical dressing and bickering of men that think highly of themselves. --- .:: A Page of Madness 狂った一頁 - 1926 - Japan - Teinosuke Kinugasa ::. It is a treasure to observe movies as an art movement from pre-WWII era Japan. From the Shinkankakuha school, this magnificent artwork achieves its goal to perfection: Bringing the world of dreams, the unsaid, the hidden, in front of us. It joins the absurdity and bitterness of humanity, the madness in us, both metaphorical and concrete, into a dance that captures us from the first image to the last. The Shinkankakuha artists are the Japanese mental brothers of the French, Spanish, and Catalonian surrealists. --- .:: Soviet Toys - 1924 - URSS - Dziga Vertov ::. The first animated movie from the URSS, a chef d'œuvre from the artist Dziga Vertov, which also made A Man With a Movie Camera. The movie holds both a political message and a moral one. It is a caricature that transforms and morphs itself, capturing your empathy. Maybe there's a hint of post-modernism/surrealism/shinkankakuha in there? --- .:: A Man with a Movie Camera - 1929 - URSS - Dziga Vertov ::. This film is one of the most captivating I've ever had the pleasure to watch. Yet, its simplicity strikes us, the purity and unprocessed bits of human life. It is filmed as a pseudo-experimental-documentary, but the juxtaposition, the arrangement of the frames, along with the different musical interpretations from later bands syncing with the rhythm, absorbs you on this exploration. Indirectly, we are compelled to build our own narrative that transcends it, to compose a poetic meaning out of what we see. A superb creation, a must-watch. --- .:: Crossroads 十字路 - 1928 - Japan - Teinosuke Kinugasa ::. I have to admit the movie was hard to follow with no subtitles and translation barely working but even through that the emotions pierced through. This is a movie about the backside of life, dragging us into the abyss of dark thoughts, a vicious cycle. The despair seeps in our veins. --- .:: Destiny - 1921 - Germany - Fritz Lang ::. Similar to The Phantom Carriage of the same year, this is a story imbued with oriental and occidental folktales. Fritz Lang make us travel the world and empathize with human nature, but still somehow feel the dreaded fate, or destiny. The characters are puppets, yet the protagonist makes a deliberate choice on it. A hidden Sisyphus meaning within it, an existentialist question. It's funny that critics found that movie "not German enough". --- .:: Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler - 1922 - Germany - Fritz Lang ::. An narrative of the anti-hero, someone that is a representation of the corruption and carnality of society. The gamblers is only driven by the joy that manipulating others give, that destroying other's life can procure. This is in stark contrast with Destiny 1921 where nobody has control of the situation, the opposite is depicted as evil. Yet, the viewer connects with the miscreant, we're also blissfully loving the 'competency porn' happening — reality bends to the will of Dr.Mabuse. --- .:: Das Testament des Dr Mabuse - 1933 - Germany - Fritz Lang ::. The follow up on der Spieler. We're brought in a world of conspiracy, where a mischievous evil persona manipulates events to his will, and from a distance. All cunningly to pass the flame of the "empire of crime". People are drawn to this malice, not because they want to, but because of their needs. --- .:: The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse - 1960 - Germany - Fritz Lang ::. The final movie in the series of the Dr.Mabuse. As captivating as the others but ends dramatically too soon. --- .:: Dir Nibelungen - 1924 - Germany - Fritz Lang ::. A fantasy film in two parts "Siegfried" and "Kriemhild's Revenge". It definitely keeps true to Lang's signature, namely the fight over destiny, death, and reality. In the first part, we're presented with a legendary figure, Siegfried the magnificent. The person incarnates an immovable object, someone that is the antithesis of Dr.Mabuse, a good fellow that achieves his goal through sheer force and ambition, not through mental manipulative techniques. Yet, this figure disrupt the balance, just like Dr.Mabuse, and jealousy ensues. Someone wants to destroy him at all costs, and this is what happens: the invincible Siegfried falls and with him his vision of the world. In the second part, Kriemhild's Revenge, Siegfried's wife goes all the way to avenge her husband, to rectify an affront. The rage consumes her, she is obsessed with it, nothing makes sense but the revenge. However, each person of the stories has ties to one another, oath that cannot be broken, pictured as stronger than family ties. The vengeance goes beyond all that and destroys the lives of many, all until everything is burned down and she is finally satiated. Balance is restored. --- .:: Metropolis - 1927 - Germany - Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou ::. Metropolis is one of those movies that joins so many nuances and subjects that it keeps you thinking about it for days. It presents a futuristic scene, similar to 1984 or A Brave New World, but preceding them by almost 20 years. The Lang's theme of destiny is ever present, mixed with a future where humanity is put in question by machines, both physical and metaphorically embodied through men working in factories, and mixed with a religious tone and class struggles. The subtle cinematic effects in the movie are sublime, it's instantly memorable. I highly recommend it! --- .:: M - 1931 - Germany - Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou ::. M is a masterpiece that grabs you from the first image. The viewer's feelings are stretched and twisted in different situations, from laughter, to drama, to fear, to vengeance, to empathy. As with Metropolis 1924, we are in a dichotomy, a clash, this time one between government institutions and mafioso as the backbone. We're seeing a tense social issue, questioning the role of legislations, whether we're falling into anarchy, the balance between the different faction in society. Who should bring justice, is mob justice good justice? What happens when the rule of law fall short for bureaucracy, theatre and ceremonies. What's the role of government in a falling situation, surveillance, parenting, mental illness. So many intricate subjects interwoven in this hectic and captivating story. I highly recommend it! --- .:: Un Chien Andalou - 1929 - French/Spain - Luis Buñuel,Salvador Dalí ::. A surrealist short film directed by two genius of that movement. With surrealism you have to let go, accept being swayed by the movie. If it starts to feel like a dream, then you've learned to watched surrealism, the sort of automatic writing and associations that can only make sense in the eye of the viewer. In Un Chien Andalou, we see raw human love, from the sense to the head, along imageries of pain, pursuits of life. --- .:: Destino - 2003 - USA/Spain - Dominique Monféry,Salvador Dalí,John Hench,Roy E. Disney ::. A surrealist joint cooperation between Disney studio artist Hench and Dalí. The short-movie is visually pleasing and enchanting, your mind goes on a ballet with it. However, it feels toned down, it doesn't have the piquant and emotional or mental outburst that true surrealism can trigger. --- .:: Anémic Cinéma - 1926 - France - Marcel Duchamp ::. A dadaist/surrealist short that is stripped down to the essential. What is left are words, which only have meanings in their interpretation, rotating on itself, ourselves rotating on the wheel, lost. --- .:: Ballet Mécanique - 1924 - France - Fernand Léger,Dudley Murphy ::. A dadaist short that pierces us with its mechanical edges. We are assimilated into the reflections and snapshots of a dance we execute. As with anything dada, we cannot help but feel the absurdity of this, the non-sense in objects and the ballet we've started with them. --- .:: L'Étoile de Mer - 1928 - France - Man Ray ::. A short surrealist masterpiece, perfectly smothering us in the dream-like atmosphere. We do not understand what we feel when watching it, yet we still have a strong emotional response. The music oriental tone only accentuate the mental tension, and we can't let go. The overall feeling of resentment, past memories, and melancholic nostalgia: bitter sweet "saudade". --- .:: Emak Bakia - 1926 - France - Man Ray ::. A true cinépoème, a prose via images. We're transported in this constant struggle against form, determination, and time. Incessant, chaotic, piercing. --- .:: The Life and Death of 9413 a Hollywood Extra - 1928 - USA - Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich ::. A metaphorical criticism of the USA rising new lifestyle. Torn between the attraction to materials, capitals, and on another side being forced to sell one-self to attain it, living in denial, hidden behind masks that compete against one another. Meanwhile, in this fight, we are but anonymous temporal animals. --- .:: Entr'acte - 1924 - France - René Clair ::. A dadaist piece that rotates around the topic of "in-between", the seasons and cyclical aspects, discontinuations. We admire the events, in order, in reverse, fast, slow, taking them from all angles. The clashes are omnipresent, sense is at risk. To top it off, we get a sort of breaking the fourth wall in the end, turning it all into a fantastical game played by the camera magician. --- .:: Les Mystères u Château du Dé - 1929 - France - Man Ray ::. I love that dadaist piece. It immerses us in the conquest of time, against nature, the human condition of constant decay, meanwhile we try to make order but randomness and life keeps going. Definitely recommended. --- .:: La Coquille et le clergyman - 1928 - France - Germaine Dulac ::. A surrealist movie that takes us in an illusion, a dream of animalistic instincts that grind against civility and conformity. We're also facing the disappointment of expectation, when we feel like something is supposed to be rightfully ours based on invented notions of work and commitment. Yet the struggle continues, and we lie to ourselves. --- .:: L'Age D'Or - 1930 - France - Luis Bruñel ::. A surrealist movie about man's repressed feelings and actions suddenly brought into the world, along with social concepts and conquests such as colonialism and a sense of superiority from this upper-classiness. Everything seems to stand in the way of that, the thread keeps up until the end. Finally, remorse ensues and the character is devastated by their vision of what society's moral should be, based on religious ideals, all dictated from the "bearded men" at the top. --- .:: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - 1921 - USA - Rex Ingram ::. In my opinion, this is a botched movie. The story is muddied in unnecessary preamble about tango and family drama but without depth. --- .:: Godzilla ゴジラ - 1954 - Japan - Ishirō Honda ::. The original godzilla movie. It is filled with a sort of religious sense of mankind against or in harmony with nature. The clash between technological advancement and destruction of the environment. It is especially striking and relevant that godzilla emerges from the ocean and has been awoken by nuclear tests. --- .:: El Topo - 1970 - Mexico - Alejandro Jodorowsky ::. A surrealist, acid Western, movie packed with oriental and occidental symbolisms. Jodorowsky takes us on a travel to discover ourselves and the truth of our world, removing layers, one by one, and through language and images assault our senses. We're left questioning if truth, or light, or progress, is worth it. --- .:: La Montaña Sagrada - 1973 - Mexico - Alejandro Jodorowsky ::. Similar with El Topo and the vibe that Jodorowsky gives, this is a surrealist story in the form of a quest for enlightenment, also full of symbolisms. The visuals are polished, invading our mind with concepts and conflicting positions. We are presented with multiple sides of human nature, of spirituality, of rough reality and how to connect back to it. The human question. --- .:: La danza de la realidad - 2013 - Chile/France - Alejandro Jodorowsky ::. Confronted with your inane self, with life. You can't escape it, our eyes can't be closed. The cycle of suffering and relief that never ends. Prisoner of flesh, and free. Faces becomes reflections of our feelings, the heart is exposes to the air, reality as an abrasive substance, cruel, but truth as the precious revelation, yet in surrealism and dreams we can find meaning. The philosophers offering an opening to morph what we see into something less raw. A powerful movie. --- .:: Twelve Angry Men - 1954 - USA - Reginald Rose ::. A mind bending movie. Posing a problem in all its perspectives, dicing it to pieces, making you take all positions possibles. It makes you reconsider your assumptions. --- .:: Road to The Stars (Der Weg Zu Den Stermen/Doroga k zviozdam) - 1950 - USSR - Pavel Klushantsev/Boris Lyapunov ::. Scientifically accurate, wondefully captivating way of explaining science. You get caught in the race to the moon, the race to the stars, you start yearning for knowledge, things fit together and make sense. --- .:: Don Quixote (Don Kikhot) - 1957 - USSR - Grigori Kozintsev ::. An exceptionally well-executed performance of the Don Quixote de La Mancha. It truly captures the essence of the book, transporting you in the universe, the madness of imagination of the character, empathizing with his wish for a better world. It reminds us of today's "competence porn", of young people being prisoners of the virtual space, from video games to social media. Yet, you can't help but feel a pang in your heart when the books of Don Quixote burn in front of him, killing him at the same time, but keeping his soul within the story of his life, a meta story about being consumed by fiction and becoming fiction yourself. --- .:: Salt for Svanetia - 1930 - USSR - Mikhail Kalatozov ::. In a similar vibe to Nanook of the North, we dicover people living in remote lands and their ingenious ways to get around. A strickingly insightful and beautiful documentary, filmed in a poignant way. --- .:: Earth - 1930 - USSR - Alexander Dovzhenko ::. Generational clash, the young and new defying traditions. The march of progress that is unstoppable. The fascination with what human capabilities can achieve. --- .:: Long Day's Journey into Night 地球最後的夜晚 - 2018 - China - Bi Gan ::. An experimental film that is dizzying. I can describe it as a wild feverish dream of surrealism. Meanings are spread through the frames, taking the form of mementos and sentences that reemerges. We're brought through memories as sequences and snapshot of times, remembering and yearning the past, yet trying to move on. --- .:: People on Sunday Menschen am Sonntag - 1930 - Germany - Moriz Seeler ::. A new take on the mundane, the philosophy of the everyday life. This pseudo-documentary offers a glimpse in the past. --- .:: Shock Troop 1917 Stosstrupp 1917 - 1934 - Germany - Hans Zöberlein ::. A movie about the life in the trenches, the classic war. Unfortunately, it makes you think that things would take a widely different turn today. --- ... more incoming, I got a whole list, get ready! I'll be slowy adding my personal review of them, but so far here's what I watched (but might not have enjoyed, keep looking for when I add the review).