The 5: Smaller Films With Big Impact
This Week on The 5: Five Small Films That Changed Filmmaking
In every decade there is at least one major film that blows audiences away with it’s fresh take on a specific genre or style of film making. Cinema classics such as ’2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Blazing Saddles’ wowed viewers with their visual effects and interesting narrative. But before those came smaller films that inspired writers and directors for years to come with their innovative film techniques and original ideas when it came to storytelling. Below are 5 innovative films you may not have heard of that changed the industry.
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- Metropolis (1927): The German silent film is considered to be the first science fiction film ever made and was a pioneer for the genre. The films depicts a world set 100 years into the future where clashes between the working class and city planners make it difficult for the son of the city’s mastermind who has fallen in love with a woman from the working class. The film was applauded for it’s special effects and use of miniature sets, which combined with the Schüfftan Process, made it seem like the actors were really occupying the futuristic looking sets. At the time of it’s release it was the most expensive movie ever made with a budget of five million Reichmarks (two-hundred million today). Scroll down for the trailer or watch it here.
- Forbidden Planet (1956): With the idea of space travel and exploration on the minds of nearly every American, the 1956 film ‘Forbidden Planet’ was an eye-opener thanks to it’s new ideas of space travel and special effects. The story of starship crew investigating the silence of a planet’s colony wowed audiences and critics alike before space travel was even a reality. The film showed audiences things they had never seen in a movie before including humans traveling in a ship of their own design, and being set on a completely different planet from earth. Gene Roddenberry, creator of ‘Star Trek’ has cited ‘Forbidden Planet’ as having a major influence on him and the ‘Star Wars’ character of Roddy the Robot can easily be seen as an inspiration for ‘Star Wars’ characters R2-D2 and C-3PO. Scroll down to watch an example of special effects in the film or click here.
- Putney Swope (1969): While many would think of Robert Downey Jr. as the most talented member of his family his father, Robert Downey Sr., is responsible for writing and directing one of the most influential comedies of all time. After the ‘token black’ man is accidentally put in charge of a giant advertising firm, he renames it ‘Truth & Soul Inc.’ he sets out to change the system and the way things are done. With blatant jokes and bits done about sex, race, and other social taboos, it’s shocking to see such themes put onto film in 1969. A strange movie filmed in black-and-white (except for the commercials made by Swope’s as agency), there really is no plot, just a collection of themes and vignettes. What is even more bizarre is that the lead character of Putney Swope, played by Arnold Johnson, has all of his lines dubbed in by Downey after Johnson couldn’t remember them while filming. A true cult classic with themes that still ring true today make this film a must-see. Scroll down to watch a fake commercial from the film or click here.
- The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976): The film debut of the thin white duke was an interesting one as he starred in the British sci-fi film, ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ a movie that is still talked about today. Bowie plays a humanoid alien named Thomas Jerome Newton who comes to Earth in search for water that he can bring back to his home planet, which is suffering from a deadly drought. This film took one of the biggest musical stars of it’s time and put him in a largely experimental film that didn’t follow the same guidelines as most sci-fi films. Bowie’s character uses his intelligence to patent several inventions that make him very wealthy which allows him to fund his spacecraft needed to ship the water back to his planet. The overall message of the film is a criticism of the over-commercialization of society and Bowie’s alien character is just used as a way to show how someone can ruin their own success by losing track of what’s important and giving in to the vices around them. This polarized audiences who weren’t expecting such a visual film that explored our cultures values and morals. Scroll down to watch the trailer, or click here.
- Blair Witch Project (1999): The first ‘found footage’ film before the idea was ran into the ground by Hollywood, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ scared audiences more than a film had in years. The movie follows three student filmmakers as they travel to the black hills to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The film had the added benefit of being released in the modern age of the internet and is considered to be one of the first films to benefit from a viral marketing campaign that featured fake police reports and newsreel style interviews which led some people to believe it was a true story. This movie also broke horror story guidelines by never giving the audience a clean visual reveal of what was actually hunting the three students and relied on a the simple sound of crackling sticks and a shakiness to the camera to keep audiences on the edge of their seat from start to finish. Scroll down to watch the final scene, or click here.
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Special Effects From Forbidden Planet
Fake Commercial from Putney Swopes
Trailer for The Man Who Fell to Earth
Final Scene from Blair Witch