The Vault: Volume 5

It’s time for another edition of The Vault! For this one I decided to try and pick films each from a different decade. I also wanted the films to span a great space of time. Included in this edition are films from as early as 1912 to as recent as 2014. Each one is a must see for their own unique reasons. If you haven’t seen some of these films be sure to check them out!

1-         Fargo (1996)

This is very well known film to say the least. It is also an extremely well made film. In just an hour and a half we are pulled into this crime story that has its moments of comedy and seriousness. The entire premise is based around a staged crime turning into a real one with major repercussions for almost all the characters in the film. The soundtrack for this film is at both beautiful and haunting. It is made by the Coen Brothers, who rarely disappoint, and is sure to take you on one wild ride.

2-         Frank (2014)

The most recently made film in this edition, this is an extremely fun film to watch. It stars Michael Fassbender, yet we never actually see his face until the end of the film. Why? Because he wears a giant fake head for 99% of the film! If that sounds weird, well, it is weird. This weirdness is present in a lot of the characters and makes the film what it is. The premise of this one is that there exists a band that is so experimental it takes them close to a year to make a record because they spend most of their time doing odd things with household objects and running around outside. It is truly a story about creativity and art. It offers us a different perspective on some of those avant-garde musicians that we see do weird things and make even stranger music. The soundtrack is also pretty amazing and the fake band in the movie actually performed a couple shows in real life! I highly recommend this film for its strangeness, its emotion, and it’s touching storyline. It’s got everything!

3-         The Last Stage (1948)

This is a foreign language film from Poland. This film is about the director’s (Wanda Jakubowski) time at Auschwitz during the holocaust. What makes this film so powerful is the fact that they were able to film it at the actual Auschwitz just a few years after the end of the war. Even Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” wasn’t allowed to do that. As a result, the painful memories are still fresh in the air within the film. Another interesting aspect of the film is that the prisoners speak polish while the guards speak German. All these elements combined truly add to the realism of the picture.

4-         The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)

This is a short crime film from 1912 that would go on to inspire Martin Scorsese as he made Goodfellas (1990) and Gangs of New York (2002). Directed by D.W. Griffith, this film was the first film about organized crime. The first gangster film as it were. It was also one of the first films to ever use follow focus. At the time this film was made, cinematographers were judged at how clear and sharp their images were. To blur the background seemed like something crazy to do at the time but now is used in almost every film you are likely to see.

5-         The Toll of the Sea (1922)

The final film in this edition of The Vault is this film from 1922. I will say that it is just an okay film. So why am I putting it in The Vault? It was the second ever feature length color film (the first is now considered lost). It was also the first color film that didn’t need a special projector to be shown in theatres. It is a monumental film just for these reasons alone. I recommend to see it to see just how far we have come with color in film. When I watch old films or see old pictures in color it is just so strange to see the past in color. When we think of the time period of about the 1830s (birth of photography) to about the 1950s and 1960s, we think of the world as being in black and white. When a photograph or film comes along from earlier in this time period that is in color it really gives us a different perspective on the world at the time. It reminds us that even though we think of that time as being in black and white, these people saw everything in color. We are so used to color nowadays that to see color integrated into media from anything pre1930s gives us a closer connection to what is happening on screen. At least in my opinion.

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