Epic

Cecil B. DeMille – The Sign of the Cross (1932)

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Synopsis:
A tale of the fall of Rome at the hand of the half-mad Emperor Nero, who sets fires throughout the city, blaming the Christians and sentencing them to death. The selfish Empress takes revenge when the object of her desire spurns her for the love of a Christian woman. 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 »

Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina – Chronique des annees de braise AKA Chronicle of the Years of Fire (1975)

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Quote:
As exciting as any Hollywood epic, Chronicles of the Years of Embers follows a poor peasant from his drought-stricken village through his first encounters with colonialism, his service in the French army in World War II and finally his participation in the nascent Algerian resistance movement. Rich and inventive, this wide-screen epic is an ambitious historical fresco of the years leading to the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence. A rare treat this gem of world cinema has not been previously released commercially and has not been made available on video in the United States.
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Akira Kurosawa – Shichinin no samurai AKA Seven Samurai [+commentary] (1954)

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Quote:
In 16th century Japan, protracted feudal wars have created a prevailing sense of lawlessness. Bandits have organized into formidable armies that scavenge the countryside in search of villages to loot. One morning, a band of thieves arrive at the outskirts of a farming community, but is persuaded to delay their attack until the barley has been harvested. A peasant farmer overhears their plan, and summons the villagers for a town meeting. The farmers seek counsel from the village elder (Kuninori Todo) who advises them to hire “hungry samurai” who would protect their village in exchange for meals. But the task of finding formidable samurais who will accept such a meager compensation proves to be a difficult task. One day, the farmers witness a middle-aged ronin (masterless samurai) named Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) single-handedly rescue an abducted child by relying solely on his cunning intelligence and precise technical skill. Kambei has grown weary of fighting, but the plight of the farmers wins his sympathy, and he agrees to take up their seemingly hopeless cause. Read More »

L. Krishnan – Raden mas (1960)

Quote:
Between the end of the Second World War and the early 1960s, the Cathay Organization and Shaw Brothers produced a string of films in Singapore, that were made for the Malay-speaking audience in what was then called Malaya. Both companies are today better know for their Cantonese Kung Fu flicks and other genre movies, that they started to produce when they moved to Hong Kong after Singapore separated from the Malay federation and became an independent, Chinese-dominated city state in 1963. This was the end of this “Golden Age of Malay cinema”, since it became difficult to distribute Singapore-made films in Malaysia due to political pressure. Read More »

Grigoriy Aleksandrov & Sergei M. Eisenstein – Staroye i novoye aka The Old and the New aka The General Line (1929)

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The horseless Marfa Lapkina, together with the local agronomist and other poor peasants, organizes a dairy farm in the village. However, local kulaks are actively resisting the project and any success it could provide. Old poor people also resists, not understanding the meaning of camaraderie and what their unification could bring to them… Read More »

Lav Diaz – Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino AKA Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004)

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An intimate
made with uncompromising and austere seriousness, Lav Diaz’s “Evolution of a Filipino Family” patiently and methodically observes the collapse and hopeful revival of a poor farming clan, meant to symbolize a nation’s history spanning 1971 to 1987. Ten-hour running time, radically slow pace and hyperminimalist mise en scene will excite international cinephiles at the most daring fests and showcases, which are the only conceivable venues outside of homevid. Read More »