Battleship Potemkin

Director: Sergei Eisenstein
Country/ Year: Russia 1925

Maggots initiate a revolt onboard the war vessel, fanning the flames of revolution in the people of Odessa. There the staircase awaits the bloody abatement of the uprising. But not its spirit.

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Director: Pietro Francisci
Country/ Year: Italy 1957

Bodybuilder-actor Steve Reeves brought upon the golden age of sword-and-sandal-films, defending buxom damsels in paper-mache sets agains stop-motion-beasts, desasters and lecherous emperors.

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Director: Edward Dmytryk
Country/ Year: USA 1952

Despite being set in the war of 1812, the period piece marking Dmytryk’s return from Hollywood’s blacklist might rather been seen as an unrelenting allegory of the corrupt politics of his time.

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A Farewell to Arms

Director: Frank Borzage
Country/ Year: USA 1932

Softness wins over rationality and sweeping emotions over stoic pragmatism in the first filming of Hemingway’s classic. The latter is what the war pic fails to be, despite being lead by Gary Cooper.

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The Iron Mask

Director: Allan Dwan
Country/ Year: USA 1929

Coat and dagger of Alexandre Dumas‘ boisterous hero D’Artagnan suit Douglas Fairbanks; more than the speech imposed on his swansong to silent cinema, coming to a literally talking end.

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Abraham Lincoln

Director: D. W. Griffith
Country/ Year: USA 1930

John Wilkes Booth would have met his master in Griffith who killed off the president a second time after shooting him in “Birth of a Nation”. The latter’s historic warps abound in the biopic as well.

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Director: Erich von Stroheim
Country/ Year: USA 1924

Manic, ruinous and ultimately fatal as the passions in Frank Norris similizing “McTeague” was von Stroheim’s directorial reign over the bleak tale of human wretchedness. Only about half of the nearly eight hours long original remain but those are nevertheless monolithic.

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The General

Director: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
Country/ Year: USA 1926

More spectacular than Buster Keaton’s tour de force after a train stolen by Union soldiers during the civil war is only his comic timing and sharp satire of military compulsion. The final disaster darkly bodes that of his career.

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The Birth of a Nation

Director: D. W. Griffith
Country/ Year: USA 1915

Despicable in his jingoistic adulation of the lowest racist stereotypes and consequently, lynching, the biased (pseudo-)history piece defends its place in the film canon by its advanced use of camera and fast cut action.

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