It’s time for another volume of The Vault! Since it’s the holidays, I decided to add a couple holiday favorites to the list, in addition to some newer films and some older films. My personal favorite film is also included in this installment. Each are important in their own way, and I hope if you haven’t seen some of them to check them out! Also, just a side-note, the final two films in this volume are in the public domain and are freely accessible online. Alright, now on to the list!!
- A Christmas Carol (1984)
Considered by some to be the definitive adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, this is one of my favorite interpretations. George C. Scott plays Scrooge and it follows the original story very closely. Despite being a made for T.V. film, it packs a punch for what it is. The atmosphere matches each section of the story perfectly. You can bet that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is one of the creepiest incarnations made. It doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is; a realistic adaptation of a classic Christmas tale. If you want to adapt a piece of literature into a film, here is a good example of it done right.
- In Cold Blood (1967)
This film, directed by Richard Brooks, is based off the bestseller written by Truman Capote, which in turn was based off true events in the 1950s. It tells the story of the killing of an entire family in Kansas, 1959. You don’t find out the truth until the end of the film, which I think makes for a very intense, well made film. We find out the motives of the killers, and we find out exactly what went down. Brooks makes us wait, however. I think it works well. It keeps us on the edge of our seats throughout the film until the end when we realize everything and how it exactly happened.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
One of the most beloved holiday films wasn’t even considered a holiday film when it was first released in 1946. Frank Capra’s tale of second chances is now considered a classic, but when it was released it was a commercial failure. This film, now shown around Christmas, is well made (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Frank Capra), and has a great message; we are all important in our own ways.
- The Tree of Life (2011)
I had to include this film in a Vault post before the end of the year. Why? It’s my absolute favorite film of all time. I was fortunate enough to see it in theatres when it was released in 2011. It is not a film for everyone, I must admit, but for those who give a chance it can be something magnificent. There isn’t much of a plot, but I believe the lack of a plot actually creates its own story. The film is rich in symbolism and emotion. You can tell it is close to the heart of its writer and director Terrence Malick. This film showed me that there is more than one way of telling a story, that there is more than one way to make a film. The classical soundtrack, the juxtaposition between symbols, and the overall atmosphere is breathtaking. I could write an entire article on this film, but I’ll save that for 2016.
- A Trip Down Market Street (1906)
This film doesn’t really contain anything that a filmmaker would need to know to construct their own film, but it does contain an incredible look into the past. This is one continuous 13 minute shot of travelling down Market Street in San Francisco, just about a month before the infamous earthquake in 1906. The camera itself is strapped to the front of a trolley train as it travels down the street. You are transported into a different time. A time that was just over a hundred years ago. Despite it being the equivalent of strapping a camera to the hood of your car and driving through your hometown, this film enwraps you and you will surely watch all the way to the end.
- A Trip to the Moon (1902)
Georges Méliès is one of the most important figures in cinema history. He experimented with special effects for most of his career while simultaneously creating some of the most entertaining short films of the silent era. If you’ve ever seen the film Hugo (2011), you’ll know a little bit about his work. Definitely his definitive work, A Trip to the Moon features the iconic image of a rocket ship sticking out of the face of the moon. This is one of the first fantasy films, and also features a great insight into how people fantasized about the moon at the turn of the century. There are a lot of special effects, and the film is a lot of fun too.