Anyone who hails from the same small patch of land as I do will understand when I say that the weather today has been atrocious. With gale force winds of up to 100 mph and rain falling faster than a footballer can say superinjunction, the travel conditions were pretty tough to say the least. After battling my way through the wind and rain to the train station, you can imagine my displeasure to find that all of the trains out of Glasgow were cancelled indefinitely.
So there I found myself, standing in the rain with no place to go and I couldn’t stop my mind from drifting onto my Top 250 challenge which should be starting any day now (just as soon as those little treats from HMV drop onto my doormat). I realised that there are so many new film experiences to come which I am looking forward to, that there is scope to dedicate a whole blog post to my Top 5 experiences to come. Therefore, In no particular order, the top five things I am anticipating are:
The Films of Hayao Miyazaki
Often described as a Japanese Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki has been at the forefront of Japanese animation for many years. To date, I have never seen any of Miyazaki’s work but with five films in the IMDB top 250 (only Hitchcock, Pixar, Kubrick, Scorsese and Wilder have more), it looks like I will be pretty familiar with his work by the end of the challenge. One of the reasons I wanted to embark on the Top 250 challenge was to expand my film knowledge and this is one such expansion which I am very much looking forward to.
On a similar note, I have never seen any of the classic films of the silent cinema era. Silent cinema is represented in the IMDB list by two true legends; Charlie Chaplin (5 films) and Buster Keaton (2 films). I believe that anyone who wants to truly attempt to understand cinema must do so with a full awareness as to how cinema has changed over the decades in line with the technological advancements that we as a society have made. Silent cinema is the very origin of contemporary cinema as we know it and I am really looking forward to experiencing a form of cinema which relies on expression and movement to tell a story, as opposed to the verbal dialogue which is overused in contemporary cinema.
The Films of Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa is commonly listed as one of the greatest directors of all time. His work has inspired many other films, from The Usual Suspects to The Magnificent Seven, and referenced in many facets of popular culture, such as the mention of Rashomon on The Simpsons. Kurosawa clearly has been an inspirational force in contemporary cinema and I find it a travesty that I have only ever managed to watch one of his films (the superb Rashomon), despite owning several others in my DVD collection. This is one deficiency of knowledge which I look forward to remedying with great anticipation.
European Cinema and Directors
I have read quite a few books on film history and each one touches quite heavily on the influence of the French New Wave and Italian Neorealism, two movements in film which I have never studied in detail. I am glad that some of the film’s in the IMDB Top 250 are related to both of these movements (The 400 Blows by Truffaut and three films by Fellini) although perhaps slightly surprised that there are not more films on the list which originate from these movements (there are a few other movements which are criminally missing lacking representation, such as the Romanian New Wave, but perhaps that is for the subject of a separate blog post).
Despite this, I am more than looking forward to experiencing the films that are in the Top 250 list from this era, as well as the films of other great European director’s such as Bergman, Clouzot and Leone.
The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
The man who is represented most on the IMDB Top 250 List, and justifiably so in my opinion is Alfred Hitchcock with 9 separate entries. Admittedly, I have seen many of Hitchcock’s finest films many times before, however, with each viewing the films appear to become richer and richer. From Vertigo and Rear Window through to the classic horror of Psycho, Hitchcock created some of the finest films ever made, and all this from a man who I think was underrated in his time. He was the true master of suspense and I look forward to revisiting some of my favourite films (despite The 39 Steps being inexplicably missing from the list).