10 Classic Films Every Film Student Needs to See

Emily Bateman ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
You know how to work a 60D. You’ve mastered three point lighting. You know all the Avid shortcuts. Now it’s time to learn from the masters. If you haven’t seen the films below, you’re missing a very important part of your Film School Education. Below is a list of ten classic films every film student needs to see.

1. Singin in the Rain

If you’re getting into the movie business, there’s no better movie about the movie business than Singin’ in the Rain. It follows Hollywood big shot Don Lockwood, played by the film’s director and dancer extraordinaire Gene Kelly, as he and his friends try to adapt to the addition of sound in movies. An intriguing story about the cutthroat world of showbiz that’s full of song and dance numbers, we can only hope the real world ends as happily as it does for Don.

 2. Citizen Kane

As many must-see lists as this film is on, there is no better film technically for a film student to learn from. Director and actor Orson Welles made the film when he was only 25. The film was technically inventive for its use of transitions and its innovation of deep focus.

3. Breathless

Jean Luc-Godard’s classic Breathless, also known as A bout de soufflé, tells the storyof a brash French thief and an American writer. Considered by many as one of the first indie films, the film uses an unusual production and editing style. The film was entirely handheld, and features quick nonlinear cuts. The reason for this was because the film was too long and Godard needed to find a way to shorten the movie and discovered that these quick cuts allowed him to still say everything he wanted to say.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey

An incredibly ambitious film for its time, 2001 is widely considered Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece. This film was innovative for its use of miniatures and special effects and even won an Oscar for its groundbreaking Special Effects work.

5. It Happened One Night

Ellen Andrews, played by Claudette Colbert, is a pampered upper class socialite who crosses paths with a newspaper reporter named Peter  Warne, played by Clark Gable, when she tries to escape from her rich father. The two, while initially are opposites that cannot stand each other, eventually form a loving relationship through numerous mishaps on their journey together. A movie that is surprisingly still full of laughs, It Happened One Night is the original screwball comedy. It even paved the way for romantic comedies such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pretty Woman.

6. The Kid

Directed, produced by, and starring Charlie Chaplin in his most iconic role of The Tramp, The Kid follows The Tramp and an orphaned child. The more thievery and mischief the two end up in, the more The Tramp sees of himself in the child. The film is on display at the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically significant.” The film beautifully blends a light comedic tone with a more serious and sentimental subject matter. The Kid will simultaneously warm and break your heart.

7.The Graduate

It’s impossible to be in college without relating to drifting directionless loner, Benjamin Braddock’s post-grade life. He comes home and can’t get away from the inevitable question: “What are you going to do with your life?” He begins an affair with family friend, Mrs. Robinson. The film is not only relevant by subject matter, but also technically, as it was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards. It is the classic story about finding yourself and coming-of-age.

 8. Psycho

None has mastered the thriller genre quite like Alfred Hitchcock. I would suggest seeing all of his films, but as far as constant shocks and edge-of-your-seat suspense, none can match Psycho. The film shows Marion Crane, who escapes to a hotel after embezzling money from her work and escapes to Bates Motel where she gets more than she bargained for.

9. Metropolis

One of the first science fiction films, Metropolis tells the story of the rebellion of the lower class in Germany. The film was a technical achievement in its day and remains on a grand epic scale even today. Miniatures were made of the entire city in order to shoot a wider scope of the set. The German expressionism style emphasized here, later influenced the film noir style.

10. Double Indemnity

Speaking of film noir, there is no better example than Billy Wilder’s classic Double Indemnity. A technically impressive achievement based solely on cinematography, this film has come to epitomize the film noir style. In the film, an insurance rep is suspected of murder and must solve the crime to clear his name.

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