Welcome to a New Cinema Site

Cinema that was invented in the last decade of 19th century,  flourished in the 20th century and for the most part,it was the most popular and in a way the most creative art format, borrowing from other art forms. After the invention of television, and the production of TV films in the second half of the last century, and later on the internet media and the new age of digitalism and online streaming or stealing of the movies, at least over the past couple of decades, Cinema has lost its glory. At the same time, while in the first half or most of the 20th century, Cinema was heavily in the hands of story tellers, photographers, and actors, who were all led by the filmmaker or the creator, in the last few decades of the past century and more so in the present 21st century, it is dominated by digital special effects and out of reality. So cinema as an art format has greatly transformed to a technical/digital industry. Along the many efforts across the globe to save this modern art against the box office sales pressure and capital demand, this site hopes to contribute a small part in this endeavor!       


What is Cinema? | a new definition of cinema

Cinema initially sprang from photography, so that later on and to this day, it is called “motion picture” or “movies”, while the term “film” could be used for both cinema and photography. In the beginning, cinema was simply, pictures in motion with no other adding arts or technology, such as sound, music, or else, but acting. That is why for the first few decades since the birth of cinema, the movies were “silent” and this art form had to rely basically on the power of imagery with all its cinematographic components and the filmmakers like painters on canvas had to do whatever they could to create a powerful moving picture on the screen in addition to silent acting without talk. In this endeavor, some relied on set design, the use of light and shadows, like the German expressionists, and some relied on editing like Eisenstein, and some relied mostly on acting and sensible realism like Chaplin. At the time and even today, it is easier to rate and rank a silent film, as there were no white noise of sound or talk and all were imagery and picture in motion to measure. Due to simplicity, originality and the role of these pure ingredients, the silent films are still on the top of many best films of all time, such as the works of Serge Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, D.W.Griffith, and Charles Chaplin.

The sound brought theatrical acting to the cinema despite strong oppositions of silent films’ actors who were great action actors, specially in comedy. While 1920’s were still dominated by the silent movies, the 1930’s were the era of infiltration of theatrical acting to cinema that lasted for several decades until the recent domination of special effects and interception of digitalism into cinema. Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart, Catharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, James Dean and Marlon Brando were such actors who stemmed from theatre or acted as such. This continued to the modern era so that the newer actors such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio continued with such legacy. The theatrical acting while added rich flavor to the story telling and content through dialogues to the cinema, in many instances became very close to theatrical plays and robbed the cinematic experience and presentation, and limited the filmmakers in showing their talents. This is somewhat parallel to the digital cinema nowadays, where digitalism and special effects have totally stolen the rich cinematic creation.

Evaluation, rating and ranking movies, is not a matter of personal taste, likeness, or even a collective voting of majority, as the majority could be wrong and do not consider all the components of a film, with a delicate consideration of the differential factors. In other words, the role of camera, acting and editing are not the same and do not carry the similar weights as special effect. Unfortunately this has not been done closely in most rating and ranking of the motion pictures and the best lists, or awards such as Oscar. Beyond the different components of a film, that somewhat and singularly are recognized as in awards for script, acting, editing, directing, etc., the following factors in ranking the best films are essential. (Of course based on the following criteria, the earlier a film, the higher the rank would be, except the films that in addition to these factors, they have the “best impression” that could go beyond the time boundary. This is certainly very rare and on our list could include only a few rare films such as “The Battleship Potemkin”, “Man with a movie camera” and “Metropolis”, but these films are still frontiers in the time frame and only a few ranks above the other films made before them.   

  1. Originality: No matter how well a film has been made today, if it is a copy of an original work, or an adaptation in one form or another, it would put it out of any best rank. An original work, even if not well done to perfection, it is still original and a creation that needs to be considered. Of course the earlier films fairly take on a lot of credits from this factor, but this may encourage the true filmmakers not to be copiers or followers but original and creative!
  2. Technicality: This factor should cover all the technical aspects of filmmaking from the story and script to the all works of camera, acting, editing, special effects, etc. The originality and proper application of each technique or component need to be considered in ranking.
  3. Impact Factor/Significance: This is the factor influencing other films, urging them to copy and experience the original work in part or in whole. This factor is not only the influence that an original work has on the industry, but on people in general and other forms of art and aspects of life as well. In conjunction with the influence that a film could have on other films or else, the significance of the film on cinema as a whole and on the history of this art medium is important and will be counted on.
  4. Survival: This shows how long a work, no matter how great, it will be remembered and looks fresh for years to come, specially in the eyes of the true cinema patriots.

 Throughout this site, in writing on films and ranking them, the above factors will be delicately considered, though no evaluation or ranking could be rightful. Such comprehensive evaluation and ranking will hopefully encourage others to take on such or similar process in ranking and awarding, and avoiding a single factor such as the content of the story for political or trend of the time reasons!         


The Greatest films of all time: 23. Gone with the wind (1939)


Since “The Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith that still considered by some including the film critics and historians, as a shame and guilt for the depiction of US inception as a nation, no film had touched the subject until a quarter of century later by Gone with the wind”. The film while basically is about the American civil war and uniting a separated nation by force and ruling by North, and blowing the old south like gone with the wind, it is a story of love, suffering, struggle, and survival, so like the life itself. Adapted from the book of the same name by Margaret Mitchell, it is beyond a documentary novel, and with its special visuals and great acting for the first time on the silver screen, makes it one of the greatest American films of all time. The title originally from the book, was chosen by Mitchell from a poem by Ernest Dowson, meaning a “lost love”, that was reiterated in the film by Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) when her home in Tara plantation “gone with the wind which swept through Georgia”. The film directed by Victor Fleming who left “The Wizard of Oz” and handed it to King Vidor, to direct this film.


“Gone with the wind” stands out in the history of cinema for once again depiction of the American Civil war, but this time from a southern perspective that was gone with the wind, due to an imposed war of unification. But the film while it is the portray of a struggle for identification and survival of the south and her way of life, it is a struggle for love, regaining of a lost love, then replacement of the love and lastly when all were gone, the struggle for survival and staying alive. Therefore the film is historical, political, melodrama and a monumental epic. It is a bit of short lasting joy and glamour of aristocratic white life in the old south, living like in an empire of her own, then her fall in a home-made war with ultimate casualties and finally her total destruction and submission to the North, abolition of the slavery and reconstruction of the south to take on the way of North to industrialize and expand.

An American Epic:

The most successful film in the box office history after adjustment for the inflation, 13 nominations at the Academy awards, winning 10, a record not broken for decades, has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all time, on the top 10 of American Film Institute, and its preservation by the United States Library of Congress and National Film Registry, are all partial tributes to this American Film Epic. At the film’s premiere in Atlanta, 300,000 people came out on December 15, 1939 to watch the film and the stars and the governor of Georgia, declared December 15 a state holiday. President Jimmy Carter would later recall it as “the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime.” Premieres in New York and Los Angeles followed, the latter attended by some of the actresses that had been considered for the part of Scarlett, among them Paulette Goddard, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. From December 1939 to July 1940, the film played only by advance-ticket road show engagements at a limited number of theaters at prices upwards of $1—more than double the price of a regular first-run feature.


“Gone with the wind” is a great example of commercial and popular films with a major hit at the box office, and at the same time being a great artistic and cinematic achievement. The film was hugely received by the audience everywhere, such as in New York alone, it was averaging eleven thousand admissions per day in late December of 1939, and within four years of its release had sold an estimated sixty million tickets across the United States, sales equivalent to just under half of the population at the time. The films was also a huge success in Europe, and became a sensational hit in London while the city was being bombarded by Germans at the dawn of the second world war. The film was re-opened after the war in April 1940 in London and was shown for four years incessantly. By the time MGM withdrew it from circulation at the end of 1943 its worldwide distribution had returned a gross total of $32 million, only the studio’s share, making it the most profitable film ever made to that point.


Surprisingly the previous popular record-holder, “The Birth of a Nation” (being seen by fifty million people by 1930) was also about the American civil war, and both film were negatively criticized and not recognized by the critics of the time. The critics of such popular publications such as “The New York Times”, “The Nation”, “Variety”, and “Guardian” could only find ridiculous flaws in the film such as “being too long”, “dramatically unconvincing”, “while it was the most ambitious film production made up to that point, it probably was not the greatest film ever made”, “a film which is a major event in the history of the industry but only a minor achievement in motion-picture art”, “the film would have benefited if repetitious scenes and dialog from the latter part of the story had been trimmed”, “the film’s one serious drawback was that the story lacked the epic quality”, “Scarlett’s irrelevant marriages and domestic squabbles, mostly superfluous”, “drama to be unconvincing and that the psychological development had been neglected.”, “unforgettable imagery and dialogue are simply not present”, “the film to be a largely forgettable experience” etc.


Despite all their critics, perhaps while enjoying the film personally, most of these hypocritical critics called the film “interesting story beautifully told”, “a major event in the history of the industry”, “the single most beloved entertainment ever produced”, “undoubtedly still the best and most durable piece of popular entertainment to have come off the Hollywood assembly lines”, etc. While these critics were critical of the film, mostly for being lengthy (not used to such long films at the time), and irrelevant second part of personal lives of characters after the war, they all could not resist praising the unforgettable and not seen to that point, the great acting of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett and accolade it as “so perfectly designed for the part by art and nature that any other actress in the role would be inconceivable”, “perfect in appearance and movements”, “her acting best when she was allowed to accentuate the split personality, she portrays and she was particularly effective in such moments of characterization like the morning after the marital rape scene.”, “she was best in the scenes where she displays courage and determination”, etc.

As a matter of fact and psychologically, underlying any criticism is a personal core assumption and belief that the critic on that base likes or dislikes and try to justify his or her own interpretation of the subject of critic, film or else. As it happened in the case of “The Birth of a Nation” that first was liked by the critics of the time, but later on degraded due to the racism and segregation, “Gone with the wind” became the same target due to the same story content of the American civil war and the subject of slavery. But both films retell the true story of Americans’ forced union by the North imposed on the South through their bloodiest domestic war. Opposite to this reason that American critics did not want to see and face the truth of their history, the American people, the subjects of the history and both films, liked them both and felt them to their core.


But the story of “Gone with the wind” as a modern version of “The Birth of a Nation” and more melodramatic, pivots on the central lives of the characters or real people, such as Scarlett and how their lives were destroyed and gone with the wind by a central greed. Despite of the misunderstanding and dislike of the critics at the time and later on, that criticized the second half of the film for focusing on the personal life of Scarlett and others, the film was about the personal lives of real people such as her from the start to the end. The film is about how the war not only kills the physical bodies, the fathers, sons and husbands, it ruins the lives and the dreams of the mothers, daughters, wives and the young girls whose loves are gone with the wind of war.


Perhaps no films later on in the history of American cinema, touched like this on their civil war and its casualties, the death rows on the battle field, the burning of villages, towns and cities of the South such as Atlanta in fire and explosions,… As it depicts and declares in title cards such as in “The Birth of a Nation”, worse than the defeat and destruction of the South, came the Carpetbaggers, who brought more than misery to the people of the south, taking away their right of voting, imposed high land taxes and took away their homes and lands. That is why at the end of three struggling and failed marriages and never reaching her dream love, what matters the most to Scarlett is “Tara”, her land and her home!


In this political, national, historical and melodramatic American epic film, other than unseen before great Technicolor cinematography, comes to the silver screen, the great acting of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. This great actress chosen by chance among over 1,400 auditions, opened a new style of acting not only for actresses but for actors, lasting for decades and still ongoing. She continues this great emotional dramatic acting role in some of her future films such as “A streetcar named Desire” that earned her academy award again as it did in “Gone with the wind”. She has been cheered even by the critics who were critical of the film as a whole and she was hailed as “pivot of the picture” and believed her to be “so perfect in appearance and movements”, “the best to accentuate the split personality”, “effective in moments of characterization”, “suited to the role physically and the best in displaying courage and determination.”


Other than Vivien Leigh, there were other great actresses in the film such as the black Hattie McDaniel as “Mammy”, the first African American to win Oscar for supporting actress, and Butterfly McQueen as “Prissy” who did not win any Oscar, and Olivia de Havilland as “Melanie Hamilton” who won the academy ward for the supporting actress. Therefore the film stands out in the history of cinema for great performances by quite a few actresses that is rare, opposed to the male roles such as Clark Gable who were just ordinary acts. Finally the film released at the verge of the second world war, as a reminder of the casualties and futility of the wars, was not sufficient yet to stop the greed to start the fire of war and destruction. The film has so many unforgettable picturesque scenes and words that joins the life and history with the art of filmmaking. “God my witness, I will never live to be hungry again.” Scarlett O’Hara.


In closing remarks “Gone with the wind” one more time will be redefined based on the following criteria:  

  1. Originality: ““Gone with the wind” was original, innovative and heroic in, once again portraying the misery of the American civil war on the silver screen as a bitter reminder of the casualties of war beyond the physical death on the verge of the second world war. The film was original in many filmmaking aspects, particularly cinematography and more so in acting, specially of the female roles, unseen before and opening a class of theatrical dramatic role acting for actresses and even actors for decades to come.
  2. Technicality: The technicality of “Gone with the wind” is in its cinematography, Technicolor and its great acting, not produced by a director alone, but by many cast and crews.
  3. Impact Factor:Gone with the wind” impact has been not only on the other films and filmmakers, but on the art of acting, actors and actresses on the silver screen. Many future films such as “Tess” of Roman Polanski, “The House of Mirth”, “Out of Africa” of Sydney Pollack, “Doctor Zhivago” of David Lean, and “Sophie’s Choice” of Alan J. Pakula are a few great examples of the impact of Vivien Leigh on the future great actresses such as Nastassja Kinski, Gillian Anderson, Meryl Streep, Julie Christie and Geraldine Chaplin.
  1. Survival:Gone with the wind” is still fresh to view and enjoy today, lest its many re-releases, but more so in its uniqueness not to please any sequel despite a few attempts and spending TV miniseries of Scarlett. So “Gone with the wind” is still one and will remain one as “The Wizard of Oz” and ““The Birth of a Nation” are.


The Greatest films of all time: 22. The Wizard of Oz (1939)


The Wizard of Oz directed by two American filmmakers, Victor Fleming and King Vidor belongs not to one but a few genres including musical, fantasy, comedy, drama and above all a family and children film. The film is the best adaptation of a 1900 novel by Frank Baum, starring the young Judy Garland as Dorothy. A fantasy film starting in black and white sepia, matching the ordinary desert-like farm life of Kansas, soon after Dorothy’s dream of travelling to the land over the rainbow comes true, it will change to full Technicolor. This on its own alone was innovative and an achievement beyond the time. Then with its unique and meaningful characters, the munchkins, the fantasy lands, musical and even comedy makes the film an icon in American and the world cinema. Although it was a box office disappointment, despite being the most expensive production of MGM to date, its re-releases, starting after the end of the second world war, became popular by the public as it was so by the critics from the start.


An American Icon:

American cinema that was struggling in the 1930’s and during the great depression, all of a sudden right at the end of the decade and on the verge of the WWII, produces two great films, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the wind” surprise the world of cinema. The film, a fantasy to instill hope in American people who lost greatly at the time of the great depression, was not first received by the public who have not yet fully recovered from despair and had lost white hopes and not in the mood for fantasy, and apparently preferred the more realistic gloomy rival “Gone with the wind” that year, capturing not the box office but the academy awards as well. But after the war, hope and fantasy returned to the American beliefs and the film flourished truly. As Disney believed and achieved instillation of dreams and hope in a society driven by greed and profits by a few and suffering and poverty of majority, The Wizard of Oz took such a place in the Americans’ hearts and minds to be happy in their dream land if not so in their real land of free! This way Disney and frontier films such as “The Wizard of Oz” created such a fantasy genre that became one of the most popular including several great films in the following years.

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The Greatest films of all time: 21. Le jour se lève (1939)


While 1937 boasted with three greatest films of all time, “La Grand illusion”, “Pépé le Moko” and “Snow white and the seven dwarfs”, 1938 could not match so. Despite Sergei Eisenstein’s “Alexander Nevsky”, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The lady vanishes”, and quite a few other films, some on the greatest films lists or awards winners such as “Pygmalion”, “You can’t take it with you”, “Olympia”, and “Jezebel”, none were quite original, technical masterpiece or having had any impact on other films. But a year later in 1939, when the World War II breaks out in Europe, quite a few great films appear on the silver screen thatLe jour se lève” (“Day Break”) is one. This classic needs to be remembered and reviewed once again, particularly since it was not fairly appreciated like its predecessor “Pépé le Moko” both from France, and played by Jean Gabin.


While color films were already in trend, the film was made in black and white that added to its thrilling and mystery murder poetic realism impression that was the goal of the film. Marcel Carné, one of the key figure in the poetic realism movement in French cinema, born in Paris, lost his mother when only 5 years old. He started his film career as a film critic and worked for quite a few film magazines until 1933. While he was experimenting on short films by age 25, he assisted a few directors such as René Clair.


Beyond a melodramatic thriller:

The film, in story being a melodramatic thriller, that even as such was an original in the genre, had much more to offer to the audience and to the cinema as a whole for the time and over decades to come. The film simple in the story at the surface with no political content or targeting anyone directly, due to its pure bitter realism was banned a year later after release, in France in 1940 by the Vichy government on the grounds of demoralization. But after the war’s end, the film was shown again to wide acclaim in France, and in 1947 it was again suppressed by RKO Radio Pictures that wanted to remake the film in Hollywood as “The long night”! The company acquired the distribution rights of the French film and sought to buy up and destroy every copy of the film that they could obtain. For a time it was feared that they had been successful and that the film was lost, but it re-appeared in the 1950s and has subsequently stood alongside Marcel Carné’s next masterpiece “Les Enfents du paradis” (Children of Paradise).

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The Greatest films of all time: 20. Snow white and the seven dwarfs (1937)


If D.W.Griffith founded Hollywood and is the father of American Cinema, Walt Disney is the father of animation pictures and as everyone knows now the founder of Disney studio and any Disney theme parks and more. All these started by Walt Disney with a life risk taking adventure in 1937 in making “Snow white and the seven dwarfs”, the first full-length animation feature. Although the film was directed by David Hand and a few others and written by quite a few more, the mastermind behind the first animation feature that has so many re-releases and has been the gold standard of all feature animations, has been Walt Disney himself who deserves an introduction, despite being well known to all.


The Man behind all Animations:

Born in December (5, 1901), died in December (15, 1966) and released his and the first feature animation in December (21, 1937), Walt Disney is the founder of cartoons and family entertainment. Despite not being a filmmaker, he stands beside D.W.Griffith and Charlie Chaplin in American Cinema. He holds the record for the most academy awards of 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. Born in Chicago with an early interest in drawing, started a job as a commercial illustrator at 18, he moved to California in the early 1920s and set up the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. He developed the character of Mickey Mouse in 1928, his first highly popular success, in short animation, a predecessor for his masterpiece, Snow white and the seven dwarfs in 1937. But his adventures and creation of feature animation did not stop there, but continued for years to come in his life time with “Fantasia” and “Pinocchio” both in 1940, “Dumbo” in 1941, “Bambi” in 1942, “Cinderella” and “Treasure island” in 1950, “Alice in Wonderland” in 1951, “The story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men” in 1952, “Peter Pan” in 1953, and finally “Mary Poppins” in 1964, two years before his final farewell.


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The Greatest films of all time: 19. Pépé le Moko (1937)


Pépé le Moko” is the only masterpiece of the French filmmaker, Julien Duvivier whom, the great French director, Jean Renoir has called “a great technician, rigorist and a poet”. The film is a great classic example of “poetic realism” of 1930’s and has often been considered an early predecessor of “Film Noir”. The English author, Graham Greene, who was twice in 1966 and 1967 shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in literature and wrote the script for the “The Third Man” has claimed Pépé le Moko as “one of the most exciting and moving films I can remember seeing…it succeeds raising the thriller to a poetic level”. This great early classic that unfairly has been missed from many lists of great films, despite its undoubted direct and indirect impacts, admittedly and none on many future films and filmmakers, will be revived here into the memories of film lovers, students of cinema and filmmakers.


A Classic unlike any:    

Pépé le Moko” is a unique classic that when it is seen today for the first time would surprise the viewer of how many times, it has been adapted directly and indirectly in the future films, even some popular classics. Due to the significance of the film and its impact on many other films and filmmakers, it will be reviewed from its four important following aspects (or 4 Ss: Stage, Story, Script, and Screen creation):

  1. The Stage:

The stage of the film is not in studios, but the town of Casbah in Algeria, a town unlike others, that on its own is the best ready made studio for any thriller or action films. This place Pépé, a jewelry thief at large and the main protagonist of the film played by Jean Gabin, calls it home and it is his hide out from the French law and the police. Casbah is mysterious, of a high and a low sections, like a vast staircases where terraces descend stepwise to the sea. Its dark winding narrow streets twist and overlap to form a jumble of mazes perfect for a thriller. This multicultural town homes people of many nations, from Africans, to Arabs, Chinese, Gypsies, Spaniards, other Europeans and stateless. Pépé hides among these people who many have a similar situation, hence help and protect him form the French law. The crowded cafes, bazars, houses with roofs on top of each other is the best refuge haven for Pépé and his allies, in the best natural film stage. There are even natural shades, silhouettes, dim day and night lights and else that the camera and cinematography need for thrills and actions. Casbah naturally begs for a story and script like Pépé le Moko, and so makes it a winner at the start.    


  1. The Story:

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The The Greatest films of all time: 18. La Grand Illusion (1937)


“The Grand illusion is story of people like you and me, thrown into this terrible adventure that we call war.” These are the words of the French creator of the film, the great Jean Renoir, years after in the re-release of the film. In relation to the story and content of the film that held through beyond the world war I, that the film is about, into the horrible world war II, Vietnam, Korean and now Gulf wars, Renoir continues to proclaim “The question that we ask our agonized world today closely resembles the question that Spaak (the screen writer), myself and many others, put to ourselves when working on The Grand Illusion…that things are as relevant today as it was at the time.” 


“We should all be grateful for.” that is what Martin Scorsese comments on the film, and “If I had to save only one film in the world, it would be Grand Illusion” claims Orson Wells, the creator of Citizen Kane. What has made “The Grand Illusion” such an icon of cinema? The film, one of the masterpieces of French Cinema by one of the frontiers of the French film art, Jean Renoir, is a film about world war I, but without any war or killing scenes that is customary in such genre. Instead the film’s theme is the class distinction and relationship among humans at the time of war in a prison camp. Through such story plot, Renoir two years before the start of another world war, conveys his anti-war message that humanity goes beyond territorial and economic conflicts, race and nations. The film truly depicts that the ordinary men or soldiers are not in fact at war, and that still connect as humans with common interests. But before discussing further about the film, lets see who was its creator.

Jean Renoir: A Born Artist

Jean Renoir was the second son of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the renowned French painter, while his older brother was a stage and film actor. He was mainly raised by his nanny, Gabrielle Renard who introduced him to puppet shows and “She taught me to see the face behind the mask and the fraud behind the flourishes. She taught me to detest the cliché.” During the World War I, Renoir was serving in the French cavalry, and was injured by receiving a bullet in his leg, that led him to serve as a reconnaissance pilot. His leg injury left him with a permanent limp, but allowed him to discover the cinema, and the works of D.W.Griffith and Charlie Chaplin. After making several silent films, in the mid 1930’s when Germany and Nazis were preparing Europe and the whole world for a full fledge war, and Spain was burning for freedom from right wings and dictatorship, he like many other intellectuals joined the popular front to fight and resist fascism that was on rising. 

 As the artist needed the right social and historical circumstances to create, Renoir made his first masterpiece “La grand Illusion” in 1937 with great acclaim, then shortly after at the brink of second world war in 1939, his second masterpiece “The Rules of the Game”. Both of his great films were seized by France occupying German armies and banned until the end of the war. Both films have been regarded one of the best films ever made collectively by the world most renowned critics, film historians and filmmakers alike. After the war in 1940, Renoir moved to the United States and Hollywood, where he could not create as he did at home. In 1975, Renoir was granted the lifetime achievement award by Academy Award and the rank of commander in the Legion d’honneur by the French government. He died on February 12, 1979 in Bevelry Hills, but his body was returned to his homeland, France and was buried beside his family. 


The Great Illusions:

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The Greatest films of all time: 17. Modern Times (1936)


It was 1936, in the midst of the great economic depression, unemployment and poverty all across the western world, particularly the United States. Chaplin after making two other great films, “Circus” in 1928 and “City Lights” in 1931, takes a break and travels Europe, where he observes not only the impact of the great depression, unemployment and poverty, but the inception of other major events. Spain was fighting for socialism and democracy, and Germany was preparing to take his lost power in the first world war back by empowering his Nazi’s party and his leader, Adolf Hitler. When Chaplin returned to Hollywood and created “Modern Times” in 1936, the civil war in Spain between the social democratic republicans who held the government for almost a year (the first such in Europe out of Russia) and the rightists or phalanges had already started. At the same time Hitler, the head of the Nazi party, the largest elected party in German’s history, targeted his nation’s economy towards war and achieved a staggering reduction in the country’s unemployment of 6 millions in 1933 to 1 million in 1936. He withdrew from the league of nations and the world disarmament conference that was created after the World War I, signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement with Britain, ordered Goring to implement a four year plan to prepare Germany for war, and assisted the dictator Franco of Spain to defeat the socialists and republicans against a universal attack against the growth of socialism.  


Chaplin who had already shown his keen and critical eyes in observing the world in his earlier films such as “The Kid” and “The Gold Rush” through his comedy, knew that this time he needs to go farther. Before making the impossible “The Great Dictator” in 1940 and mocking Hitler right in the middle of World War II (a task that nobody else dared to do), he decided to show the world the slavery of labor by capitalism that would soon take the world to the brink of war. This warning was well achieved in “Modern Times” through laughter and tears, the unique style of Chaplin. A glance through the films made in 1930s, even the acclaimed ones such as “Grand Hotel”, “Cimarron”, “Frankenstein”, “Cavalcade”, “Scarface”, “Baby face”, Duck soup”, “42nd Street”, “L’Atlante”, “The 39 steps”, “The informer”, “The Bride of Frankenstein”, “A night at the opera”, “Top hat”, “The Great Ziegfeld”, “Camille”, “Swing time”,…one wonders what other filmmakers were doing at the gravest time of all in the modern history! No one portrayed the great depression, unemployment and poverty all over the western world and at the center in the United States of America, no one alerted the world of the inception of the second world war in Europe and burning of Spain for freedom. Obviously no one, how great they were in entertaining people, did not feel the duty and responsibility of using the film medium to enlighten and inform people of what is happening in real. Therefore this is a proof that Chaplin was not only the greatest of all in his own art of comedy, acting, directing, composing,…but the greatest in having such duty and responsibility carrying such mission single handedly on his shoulder for the rest of the world of cinema. He was the only one able to dare and to make “Modern times” and later on “The Great dictator”, and nobody could even touch him or hurt him for depiction of the dark reality, as he was Charlie and made everyone laugh even reportedly Hitler when he watched his own mockery, and made everyone cry at the same time and above all think!


Chaplin the Legend of World Cinema:

Whatever could be said and have been said about Chaplin does not yet deserve what he has done for the art of filmmaking. Federico Fellini, the great Italian director has called Chaplin “a sort of Adam, from whom we are all descended”. The great French filmmaker, Jacques Tati has said about Chaplin “Without him I would never have made a film”. René Clair, another major French director has praised Chaplin “He inspired practically every filmmaker”. Billy Wilder, the great American Filmmaker commemorated him as “Chaplin not only wrote the scripts, he directed , acted in, and composed the music scores,…Chaplin, up to the moment he started writing dialogue, was an absolutely unique genius. He was a God.” Vittorio De Sica, the maker of “The Bicycle thieves” and a great actor has called himself the successor of Chaplin and how much he was influenced by him. 


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Picking the Good Tomatoes Among the Rotten Tomatoes

Rottentomatoes.com is a website ranking movies based on aggregate of film reviews. Since the website accumulates and aggregates the film reviews, it is a popular and relied one for measuring the quality of films. At the same time, this website is a window that through it one can see how film reviews are, many without sufficient or no research into the film, its subject, and else, but solely based on personal preference. In the following, first the 100 greatest films of all time on this website by aggregate of the film reviews will be discussed. Since the website is mostly relied on the number of reviews than the number of 100% positive reviews, then the films with higher reviews (that are mostly modern era films as they are more reviewers now than in the past), will get a higher ranking. But films with 100% positive reviews if they have lower number of reviews, such as old films as you will see, they will get lower rankings and many great films do not appear on this list of the greatest 100 films of all time, but some mediocre recent years films  with more number of reviews appear in the list. 

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