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A Slight Delay

Due to the holiday weekend, some shipping problems with Blockbuster, and the general difficulty in finding films before 1915, it may be a few more days before my next post.  Sit tight.

Cinema Century

Welcome! Today marks the inaugural post for the Cinema Century project! The basic idea is simple: I choose one movie from each year between 1907 and 2007, watch each movie in chronological order, then write about it here.

What’s the point?
There’s a few answers to this question, so you tell me what works best for you. First, I watch a lot of movies anyway, so it gives me an excuse to pick up a few more obscure or older titles that I’ve always meant to watch. I’ve admittedly carried some prejudice against most movies that pre-date 1950, so self-educating myself on the history of cinema will at least give me some context for understanding the way that it has developed over the past century. Two years ago, I was required to watch Citizen Kane for a film class and was almost shocked by how much I enjoyed it. This project should provide for at least a few similar surprises.

Also, part of the fascination of the chronological approach is its two simultaneous, yet contradictory, means of experiencing film history. On the one hand, progressing through cinema a year at a time allows us, as viewers, to gain a better context for what we’re viewing, i.e., the historical development of camera technology, film technique, experimentation, narrative structure, and so on. On the other hand, choosing a single film (or maybe two, if I cheat – and I will) to represent an entire year ignores the vast gulf of differences that can separate two otherwise ‘chronological’ films (e.g., geography, culture, politics, and even genre). Though separated by a year, how do we compare Fantasia to Citizen Kane? Vertigo to Wild Strawberries? I think these chronological juxtapositions will prove to be the most interesting.

How did you choose the movies?
The answer ranges from “somewhat arbitrarily” to “Blockbuster TotalAccess has it in stock”. I first populated the list with movies I really wanted to see (anything by Ozu or Kurosawa, On the Waterfront, etc.), filled in a few more spots with movies I thought would be interesting to write about (Persona, Akira, Julien Donkey-Boy, etc.), then rounded out the remaining years with a combination of critics’ lists, imdb recommendations, and late-night research. Also, factor in a few technological / financial restraints, such as the movie’s availability on DVD and my ability to rent it from Netflix.

Are you really qualified to write about this kind of thing?
Probably not. I guess it depends on what you mean by qualified. Am I a professional film critic? No. Do I love movies and, in general, possess the ability to form cogent paragraphs with semi-coherent ideas behind them? Absolutely not. Do I have internet access and a free WordPress account? Yes!

Thanks for stopping by.  Enjoy.