The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Season 1, Episode 3

The Golden Age of World Cinema (17 Sep. 2011)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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The Story of Film examines world cinema in the period of 1918-1932 and looks at places where movie-makers were pushing the boundaries of film. It examines the work of visually daring ... See full summary »



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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Presenter
Naum Kleiman ...
Himself - Interviewee
Himself - Interviewee
Donald Richie ...
Himself - Interviewee
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Herself - Interviewee
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Narrator (voice)


The Story of Film examines world cinema in the period of 1918-1932 and looks at places where movie-makers were pushing the boundaries of film. It examines the work of visually daring filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch and the impressionism of French director Abel Gance. It then looks at the work of expressionists filmmakers Robert Wiene, Teinosuke Kinugasa, Fritz Lang, and F. W. Murnau. It discusses the birth of experimental film and the surrealist filmmakers Walter Ruttmann, René Clair, Alberto Cavalcanti, and Luis Bunuel. It travels to the Soviet Union to examine the influential work of Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, and Alexander Dovzhenko. It, then, proceeds to Japan and looks at the work of Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. Finally, it travels to Shanghai in China to look at its realistic cinema and the work of popular actress Ruan Lingyu. Written by Shatterdaymorn

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17 September 2011 (UK)  »

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Golen Age of World Cinema
6 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode brings us to the worldwide innovators and rebels of the 1920s. We have Ernst Lubitsch, who was mocking and subversive -- Billy Wilder later had a sign reading "How would Lubitsch do it?" (Wilder seems to have been influenced by everyone -- Chaplin, Hawks, Lubitsch...) Abel Gance and impressionism was the rage in France, which in turn influenced Russian cinema.

Perhaps the most well-known movement was that of German expressionism -- Robert Wiene's "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" allegedly being a metaphor for the control of the German people by the German state. It is noted for the painting of shadows and stark angles. Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and even Alfred Hitchcock's "Lodger" came from this. Most interestingly rising from German expressionism, perhaps, is "The Page of Madness", a Japanese film (what Cousins calls the second great Japanese film after "Souls on the Road", both of which are largely unknown).

This time period brought us F. W. Murnau, one of the greatest directors of all time and "Sunrise" is considered one of the best films of all time. (Working with him and Lang, but not mentioned here, was cinematography Karl Freund.) Walter Ruttmann was a rebel with animation, painting on glass. Rene Clair brought out Dada on film. Dali brought the drooping eyes to Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound". nd of course, with Luis Bunuel, we received the surreal gems "Un Chien Andalou" and "Age D'Or".

Russia brought Vertov and Eisenstein (a Jewish, bisexual, Christian, Marxist engineer), who influenced Chaplin and Disney. Oddly, the stairs of "Battleship Potemkin" influenced DePalma's "Untouchables", which in turn were parodied by "Naked Gun".

Ozu in Japan placed his camera different, lowering where people were shot (feet or knees up rather than hips up). While Hollywood in the 1920s was huge, this episode shows us that the rest of the world was busy creating and inventing, too -- in some ways beating the Americans to the punch.

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