Epic

Roberto Rossellini – Atti degli apostoli aka Acts of the Apostles (1969)

from the imdb comments:

The second in a series of historical films begun by Roberto Rossellini in the late 1960’s was this sublime movie for Italian television which traces the spread of Christianity in the thirty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, according to the accounts of Luke. Most of the first part deals with the successes and failures of Peter in spreading the good news of Jesus and presents an almost documentary view of the first Christian community, the trials before the Sanhedrin, the martyrdom of Philip and Stephen. Most of the second half of this five-hour+ film follows Paul from his conversion en route to Damascus, his work with Barnabas in Antioch of Syria, his debates on the old law versus the new, his arrest. The film ends with his imprisonment in Rome. Read More »

Youssef Chahine – Adieu Bonaparte AKA Farewell Bonaparte (1985)

Quote:
In 1798, Napoleon lands his army in Egypt, defeats the Mameluke warlords (the remnants of Ottoman rule), and goes on to Cairo. Three brothers, who are Egyptian patriots, chafe under Mameluke rule and reject the prospect of French domination. Bakr, the eldest, is a hothead, quick to advocate armed rebellion; Ali is more philosophical and poetic; Yehia is young and impressionable. One of Napoleon’s generals, the one-legged intellectual Caffarelli, wants to make Frenchmen out of Ali, Yehia, and other Egyptians, opening a bakery where their father works, becoming a tutor, and declaring his love for them. Is tragedy the only resolution of these conflicting loyalties? Read More »

Mircea Dragan – Columna AKA The Column (1968)

The Roman Emperor Trajan has just murdered all the local men of Dacia and holds a military stronghold in what will later become Rumania. He places a Roman centurion in his place to occupy his latest conquest. After lopping off the head of the Dacian warlord, the soldier uses his blood-stained hands to dine on cheese and bread, unable to suppress his laughter. The centurion has a change of heart when he is put in charge of the region, freely dispensing justice and forgiveness to the conquered inhabitants. When the peace is threatened by marauding barbarians in masks of fur, the locals help the Romans fend off the invasion. Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky – Andrey Rublyov (1966) DVD

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Presented as a tableaux of seven sections in black and white, with a final montage of Rublev’s painted icons in color, the film takes an unflinching gaze at medieval Russia during the first quarter of the 15th century, a period of Mongol-Tartar invasion and growing Christian influence.

Commissioned to paint the interior of the Vladimir cathedral, Andrei Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn) leaves the Andronnikov monastery with an entourage of monks and assistants, witnessing in his travels the degradations befalling his fellow Russians, including pillage, oppression from tyrants and Mongols, torture, rape, and plague. Faced with the brutalities of the world outside the religious enclave, Rublev’s faith is shaken, prompting him to question the uses or even possibility of art in a degraded world. After Mongols sack the city of Vladimir, burning the very cathedral that he has been commissioned to paint, Rublev takes a vow of silence and withdraws completely, removing himself to the hermetic confines of the monastery. Read More »

Gerardo de Leon – Jose Rizal’s “Noli me tángere” (1961)

Quote:
A multi-awarded film by Filipino National Artist Gerardo de Leon, based on a novel written by martyr-hero Jose P. Rizal, and which trigerred the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Produced in 1961 for the national celebrations commemorating the birth centenary of Rizal, the film considered lost for almost two decades until its recent restoration by German Archivist. Read More »

Kar-Wai Wong – Dung che sai duk AKA Ashes of Time Redux (1994)

Two years after forming his own production company, Jet Tone, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai released ASHES OF TIME, a martial-arts epic based on THE EAGLE-SHOOTING HEROES, a series of novels by Louis Cha writing under the pseudonym Jin Yong. The film was set in jianghu, an imaginary world with its own views of good and evil. In 2008, unhappy with the many alternate versions of ASHES OF TIME available, Wong reedited and restored the film, working with the original negative and soundtrack, which were in severe disrepair. Read More »

Carol Reed – The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) pulls Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) from his life’s work making sculptures to instead throw a fresco up on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, a dreary building the Church can’t afford to tear down. Michelangelo hates painting and does everything he can to dodge the assignment, but stays on thanks to the counsel of the Contessina di Medici (Diane Cilento), a married woman who can’t understand why the artist prefers his work to her company. Michelangelo drags his feet while architect Donato Bramante (Harry Andrews) tries to have the commission shifted to his favorite, Raphael (Tomas Milian). Read More »