1910s & 1920s

One Week (1920)

Marriage is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all package, as Buster Keaton so amusingly illustrates in his silent short One Week, demonstrating a level of comedic genius in his architectural inventiveness, creative framing, and wildly physical stunt work that explores the unique cinematic potential of visual comedy in the early days of film.

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

The Adventures of Prince Achmed would still be a great feat of filmmaking even if it were the hundredth or thousandth feature-length animation, but the fact that Lotte Reiniger’s imaginative Middle Eastern fable of magic, adventure, and shadow puppetry is the first of its kind is simply remarkable.

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La Roue (1923)

In drawing on the philosophies of his literary idols, Abel Gance crafts a breath-taking piece of epic cinematic poetry in La Roue, breaking the shackles of conventional silent filmmaking to explore the weight of obsession, guilt, love, and death on a man’s conscience over the course of his mortal life.

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Robert Wiene creates the look of a demented, Edvard Munch-like painting brought horrifically to life in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, expressing the nightmarish disorientation of an authoritarian society slowly driving everyone insane.

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Nosferatu (1922)

Gaunt-faced, wide-eyed, hunched over, the mere profile of Count Orlok strikes a terrifying image that has persisted in our collective consciousness for almost a century, and yet through F.W. Murnau’s sharp, expressionist lighting, Nosferatu still holds up as being more than just one remarkable performance.

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