Best Films of the 1910's & 1920's

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  1. 9.5/10
  2. Metropolis-Lang (1927) ["The Complete Metropolis", 147 minutes]

  3. 9/10
  4. Greed-Von Stroheim (1924) [Studio Cut, 140 minutes]
  5. The Passion of Joan of Arc-Dreyer (1927)

  6. 8.5/10
  7. Battleship Potemkin-Eisenstein (1925) [Fully Restored 2007 Kino Version]
  8. Sunrise-Murnau (1927)

  9. 8/10
  10. The Man With A Movie Camera-Vertov (1928)
  11. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-Wiene (1920)
  12. The Phantom Carriage-Sjostrom (1921)
  13. The Circus-Chaplin (1928)
  14. The General-Keaton (1926)
  15. The Last Laugh-Murnau (1924)
  16. Faust-Murnau (1926)

  17. 7.5/10
  18. Birth of a Nation-Griffith (1915)
  19. The Crowd-Vidor (1928)

Biggest suggestion: Buster Keaton. One of the best actors of the silent era and did so much in a weird combination of formalism and improvisation-- The General is a masterpiece.
It's probably weird to suggest, but-- Louis Lumiere's Grand-Cafe-Program from 1895 is legitimately a great little documentary. There's something unpretentiously beautiful in its simplicity and naturalism. It may not have a really high concept or technical virtuosity but the things they chose to show and the way it was all shot is all done in a strangely beautiful way (even the editing/arrangement gives a certain sense of time, place, and feeling, as well as personal point of view). Even if Lumiere didn't see cinema as something that could become art, he unwittingly made a pretty great little art film.

yeah, definately check out Buster Keaton, largely considered Chaplin's equal but vastly overshadowed. tho I recommend Sherlock Jr. some really amazing stunts in there and just top-notch film making. let's hope Scaruffi places it highly.

Last I saw The General, and it's been about a decade so this could change, I think of it as 7-ish. Very enjoyable, certainly Chaplin's equal in many ways. It's great to see them share the spotlight towards the end of Limelight (imo Chaplin's masterwork, and one of the all time masterpieces of cinema).

"Limelight (imo Chaplin's masterwork, and one of the all time masterpieces of cinema)."

I completely agree with your above statement...thoroughly an enjoyable and emotional film, deservedly his best!

Thanks, I'd highly recommend Modern Times and Great Dictator as well, and I've heard great things about City Lights and The Gold Rush too but haven't seen those myself.

I just finished Birth of a Nation, and am wondering why it is not rated higher? Not that I absolutely loved it, but it was extremely innovative, even compared to Battleship Potemkin.

Guess its because I don't rate films on innovation. I rate them on how emotionally affecting/impactful they were for me on a personal level--my ratings/rankings are not "objective". Factors such as originality are only taken into consideration to the degree they make the film emotionally affecting/impactful. Sometimes this is difficult to believe after one's initial viewing(s) of such films as Mirror or Inland Empire or even Citizen Kane, etc. But when (or if) one of them opens up for you and floors you beyond all comprehension, sitting there awestruck in stunned silence well starts to get the difference between a very emotional film (like Schindler's List) and a 9/10 such as Mirror which can be a life-changing, shattering, profound experience on many levels simultaneously. The difference between a film such as Passion of Joan of Arc (7.5/10 or 8/10) and say Persona (9/10 and one of the greatest films ever) is mainly a large gap in depth. It's easy to see that each exhibits a comparably high amount of emotional conviction. But Passion of Joan of Arc, great as it is, doesn't have nearly the visual, structural/editing, conceptual depth and multi-faceted genius that Persona does. For me, if one were to scale my "viewing history" of each one would find that I loved both of them at a similar level throughout each ones first 3-4 viewings (or some such) and that shortly after that Persona grew increasingly and successively into a far more powerful and multi-faceted and profound experience for me while Passion of Joan of Arc didn't become anything more than the straightforwardly emotionally intense experience it was when I first viewed it (that's not a bad thing at all; to explain what I mean, I am forced to show supposed "faults" only when relative to an all-time masterpiece like Persona. Compared to 99% of all films, Passion of Joan of Arc is one of the towering achievements in cinema). Anyway, due to the above factors, a 9/10 such as Persona becomes a much more emotional experience than it might at first seem, and considerably more affecting/impactful than Passion of Joan of Arc (or almost any other film) could ever be. You see, it has so many awe-inspiring facets going for it at once that it becomes something of an emotionally "reverberating" experience.

That said, Birth of a Nation, due to the fact that it has originality in spades as well as a high amount of conviction, has a higher chance than most any other film of rising on my list(s) in the future. But it first has to display this for me and so affect me personally before I raise its rating/ranking--even if "objectively" I can see its potential beforehand (I often use such observations of "potential" to pick and choose which films I come back to for further viewings).