We all need some inspiration in our lives at some time or another and being a film student you may find yourself stuck in the unfortunate stage of hitting a blank wall in the idea’s department.
Whether you’re a writer/director looking to spark some extra imagination for a new script , a cinematographer seeking some visual flair or an editor searching for unique techniques; here are 15 movies, from the downright beautiful to the wonderfully insane, that may just inspire you in your studies.
15. Day For Night (1973, Francois Truffaut)
What’s a more perfect way to start off this list by placing Francois Truffaut’s gloriously entertaining ode to cinema and celebration of film-making Day For Night here.
Focusing on a director’s struggle (played by Truffaut himself!) to finish his movie while coping with problem after problem due to the wild nature of his cast and crew’s lives, not only does it perfectly show how a typical movie production set operates on a day to day basis but also includes vividly alive characters bursting with life, making the whole experience pure joy to watch.
Day For Night’s tag-line “A movie for people who love movies” doesn’t lie and it truly is an essential piece of cinema for any student of film to watch.
14. Love Exposure (2008, Sion Sono)
Sion Sono’s low budget magnum opus is not only one of the most absolutely crazy cinematic experiences you are ever likely to have but also a perfect movie to watch if you’re a film student. It’s utterly impossible to even give a simple synopsis for something as unique and flat-out insane as this movie .
It goes without saying that Love Exposure is certainly not for everybody, with a mammoth running time of 4 hours and a handful of taboo breaking and controversial themes such as extreme religious guilt, violent family feuds, strange young love, ancient curses, sinister cults, industrial pornography, covert cross-dressing and martial-arts-inspired “peek-a-panty” photography.
For a movie as long as this, you won’t find yourself uninterested in the slightest and it goes to show that you don’t need a huge budget to make something spectacularly joyous to watch. So if you think you’re the type of person who wants to create something truly “different”, then give Love Exposure the watch it deserves.
Whether you love it or you despise it, you’re highly likely to be inspired or impressed by its outright confidence and total awareness of its own strangeness.
13. Night and Fog (1955, Alain Resnais)
This is the shortest movie on this list, but it may actually pack the most emotional punch. Masterful and profoundly disturbing , Night and Fog is a holocaust documentary that is simple in its nature but revolutionary for cinema at the time, being the first ever feature film to showcase images or even mention and acknowledge the holocaust as a major catastrophe .
This is the closest you will ever get to the inside of concentration camps with haunting photography showcasing shots of finger scratchings on the roof of gas chambers and huge rooms that are full of nothing but women’s hair. These are images that no one shall soon forget, filmed exactly 10 years after the horrifying event.
If you’re interested in the genre of documentary film-making, this movie should be on top of your watch-list, ready to be viewed and analysed because Alain Resnais’s pure braveness should come as a huge inspiration to all film students. This is a truly heart-wrenching visual poem of a piece of history that no one should or will ever forget.
12. Loves of a Blonde (1965, Milos Forman)
Loves of a Blonde is a beautifully crafted romantic comedy that manages to blend deadpan humour and genuine scenes of drama near perfectly. Coming straight out of the Czech New Wave, this lovely and silly little motion picture from director Milos Forman is a must watch for those who want to get inspiration for something along the lines of a romantic comedy/drama movie.
The story is simple and sweet, focusing on a young girl (Andula) discovering her sexuality and lust for love. The film’s scale and size feels so utterly tiny, but the way it unfolds in such an enjoyable manner makes a small and subtle look into a teenage girl’s life much more entertaining than it sounds.
Loves of a Blonde was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967 and it’s not hard to see why.
11. Playtime (1967, Jacques Tati)
Another French masterpiece on this list is Jacques Tati’s larger than life comedy Playtime, in which a middle aged man (Played by Jacques Tati himself!) wanders around Paris in complete confusion in the age of technology reaching its creative apex.
What makes Playtime so wonderfully special is how much is squeezed into every single frame, it’s often like a live action “Where’s wally?” frantically searching around each frame to spot all the subtle comedic cues simultaneously happening.
It certainly does put modern comedies to absolute shame, proving that you do not need overly crude in your face humour to qualify in the genre, yet subtle and cleverly written physical comedy is sometimes much more affective and audience pleasing. If a movie is over 2 hours and it has almost no dialogue, but is still hilarious, you know it’s doing something very well.
So if you’re an aspiring comedic director/writer, give Playtime a watch and get some real comedic genius level of inspiration.
10. I Am Cuba (1964, Mikhail Kalatozov)
For all the aspiring cinematographers out there, Mikhail Kalatozo’s underseen masterpiece I Am Cuba (or Soy Cuba as it’s also referred to) is the movie you thought you could only have dreamed of.
Focusing on no main characters, just episodically moving from different groups of people revolting in some way or another in the final days of the Batista regime, I Am Cuba’s story or characters are not the selling point. As Martin Scorsese once said “ Kalatozov knew that the story and dialogue was not important, but the film’s imagery and poetry was “
The camerawork is a total celebration of cinematography itself, featuring some of the best shots in cinematic history. From daringly choreographed long takes and shot after shot breaking some kind of astonishing technical achievement.
This movie is a must watch for fans of cinema and film students alike, giving barrels of inspiration and ideas for you to create some equally impressive and breathtaking imagery.
9. Solaris (1972, Andrei Tarkovsky)
Andrei Tarkovsky is a director you’re bound to hear about If you are studying film, he is one of the most influential film-makers of all time and Solaris might just be his magnum opus and most celebrated piece of work he’s created.
When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is sent to investigate strange transmissions sent from a space station, he experiences the strange phenomena that affect the Solaris crew, sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his own consciousness.
It’s a mysterious, surreal experience that rewards the most patient viewers with a beautiful journey into dealing with grief and loss. Everything about this movies screams “STUDY ME, ANALYSE ME”. Each frame is packed with colours and amazing set design , the dialogue is pure poetry and the overlaying themes of love and death add a real emotional core to its heart.
If you want a deep meaningful film to study and get inspiration from, Solaris is the perfect choice .