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The 10 Best Movie Trilogies of All Time

04 November 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Vitor Guima

The Godfather (1972)

Trilogies are something that’s very recurrent in the history of film. As a way of telling a longer story or simply connecting a particular theme in different narratives, some of the best films in history are part of a trilogy and many acclaimed directors have one in their filmography. With that in mind, here is a selection of some of the best trilogies ever made.

As always, it is never too late to remember that many things interfere in the choice of the trilogies on this list, but the main factors are memory and especially personal preferences. If you think any other trilogy could be on this list, please leave it as a recommendation in the comments section below.

So, here are the 10 best film trilogies of all time.

 

10. The Before Trilogy

Movies: Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight (2013)

We gotta have some romance mixed up with existentialism on an article like this.

Directed by Richard Linklater and starred by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (who are also screenwriters alongside Linklater on the second and third films), The Before Trilogy follows a couple that meets on a train over the course of almost 20 years through encounters and mismatches, through happiness, and also through some very somber existentialist conversations and moments.

Taking place – almost – in real time, the three films explore deeply the characters’ personas in very different moments of their lives. From their first meeting when they are all about expectations of the future to their meeting nine years later when they start to face the many difficulties of adulthood (and seeing those expectations might not have happened as they imagine), and finally when their marriage is in crisis in the last film of the trilogy.

This trilogy is so full of iconic moments – especially regarding dialogue – that it definitely deserves a place on this list. To give some examples, the “phone conversation” in “Before Sunrise,” the talk Céline and Jesse have on the cab on “Before Sunset” or the argument about infidelity they have on “Before Midnight” are all great moments in these films that are almost entirely based on dialogue.

For its great leading characters, great dialogue and of course, its romantic and existentialist approach, The Before Trilogy definitely deserves a place on this list.

 

9. The Apu Trilogy

Movies: Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956), The World of Apu (1959)

Pather-Panchali

This trilogy directed by master Satyajit Ray is a milestone in Indian cinema and it is not rare to see one or more titles of this trilogy cited among the best films ever made.

Probably the most interesting aspect of these films is the fact that Ray is capable of capturing not only the atmosphere of the place the characters are at, but especially because he is able to build a narrative that seems to understand and respect the timing of life itself.

These movies, which are based on the novels written by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, are some of the most important in the Parallel Cinema movement and are so unique that they definitely should be watched by any cinephile. For its astonishing visual and powerful story, this trilogy directed by the brilliant Satyajit Ray definitely deserves a place among the best of all time.

 

8. The Road Trilogy

Movies: Alice in the Cities (1974), The Wrong Move (1975), Kings of the Road (1976)

Kings Of The Road (1976)

The road is an element that is present in some of the most acclaimed works of German director Wim Wenders and, from 1974 to 1976, the director dedicated three films to explore this element in The Road Trilogy, comprising three amazing movies starred by great actor Rüdiger Vogler.

The important thing in the films is how the road is a place of change and a place for new perspectives. And it’s truly amazing how the landscapes and the encounters are explored in these three films, which are definitely among Wenders’ best.

The relation of the characters with art – the writers in “Alice in the Cities” and “The Wrong Move” and the projection-equipment mechanic in “Kings of the Road” – makes this trilogy even more interesting in connecting these people played by Vogler with cinema itself.

Being some of the greatest films in Wenders career – and let’s not forget that he is an artist responsible for “Paris, Texas” and “Wings of Desire” – and for being some of the best road movies ever made, The Road Trilogy is without a doubt among the best in cinema history.

 

7. The BRD Trilogy

Movies: The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Lola (1981), Veronika Voss (1982)

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979)

German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the most prolific filmmakers in history. Directing around 40 films in less than 20 years, not to count the more than 20 plays and the television series, Fassbinder also has a trilogy of his own: The BRD Trilogy.

BRD is Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the official name of West Germany after the end of World War II, and these three films follow the story of three different women living in the country in the years that followed the end of the war.

Telling the story of a widow in “The Marriage of Maria Braun,” a woman who works in a brothel in “Lola” and an actress on “Veronika Voss,” Fassbinder’s humanistic approach is as present as possible. It is definitely amazing to see how his interest in exploring his characters goes as deep as the astonishing aesthetics of his films.

The BRD Trilogy is composed of three films that are alongside the best made by one of Germany’s greatest masters, and definitely deserves a place on an article of the best movie trilogies ever made.

 

6. The Trilogy of Faith

Movies: Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), The Silence (1963)

Winter Light

Emotions are one of the key elements to understanding Ingmar Bergman’s filmography. More than human relations or his interest in life itself, his interest in portraying emotion in his films is one of the things that makes the movies of this Swedish master so unique.

In The Trilogy of Faith, Bergman takes this interest in the human soul to a whole new level. The approach on silence and the subtle nuances of the acting are things that truly scream out in these films that, deep down, are talking about the relationship we all have with our own existence.

Even though these films sometimes do not get the praise they deserve in Bergman’s filmography, we have here not only three masterpieces from one of the best directors of all time, but really three valuable filmmaking lessons from one of the best artists who ever lived.

 

 

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  • Zwei

    -The Apartment Trilogy: Repulsion,Rosemary’s Baby,The Tenant.

    -Rossellini’s War Trilogy: Rome Open City,Paisan, Germany Year Zero

    -The Human Condition Trilogy

  • Hal Jordan

    Lord of the Rings, best trilogy of all time

    • Maria Jose Castellon Villaman

      LOL

  • Sean

    The Police Academy Captain Harris Trilogy: Back in Training, Citizens on Patrol, Assignment Miami Beach 😀

    • tommyturner

      Awesome post…….just awesome.

    • Captain Harris was not in Back in Training. That was Captain Mauser. Captain Harris was in City Under Siege and Mission to Moscow as well as the first film.

      • tommyturner

        Not awesome enough that someone posted about the greatness of police academy, but that someone would know enough about police academy facts that they would correct the original poster, is simply stupendous!

        • Well, I grew up on those films and have the same love for those films equally to the films of Kurosawa, Bergman, Bresson, and anything else that is great.

  • jdougs

    Without The Human Condition as #1, I find this list to be meaningless, despite having some of the best trilogies ever on it. That’s how good The Human Condition is. That they made this list without it blows my mind.

    • Rass

      It’s meaningless because a film you like isn’t on it? Idiot.

    • Ricardo Correia

      It is a terrific triology, but Antonioni’s trilogy is deservedly at number 1, all them are brilliant

  • lamarkeith

    You really don’t think any of Theo Angelopoulos’ three different trilogies deserve a mention in the top 10 of all time? Trilogy of Borders is easily a contender for a top 3 spot — and if the two other films in Trilogy of History were as a good as The Travelling Players then I would have to include 2 Theo trilogies on my own list, haha.

    Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life is definitely deserving of top 10 as well.

    Fortunately, Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights isn’t considered a trilogy, or else I would bump The Before Trilogy out to make room for it, as much as it would pain me to do so, ha.

    Though, I agree with not including von Trier’s Depression Trilogy: even though I love it and think it’s amazing, it’s still not as strong as the 10 on you’re list here.

  • Yolanda Anne Brown

    I would not put The Godfather Trilogy on this list. The 3rd 1 was a hot mess with Sofia Coppola’s listless acting that it brought the series down.

    • I agree. I love Sofia Coppola but even she doesn’t rate the third film highly and thought her performance in that film sucked ass.

      • Yolanda Anne Brown

        The other thing? I missed Robert Duvall. He dodged a bullet on this film, but I think that at least he could have elevated it a tad as Tom, instead of the casting of George Hamilton.

        • Mortimer

          If Robert Duvall and Winona Ryder were cast instead of Hamilton and Sofia at least movie would be slightly better.

          • Yolanda Anne Brown

            Totally agree.

        • Duvall was supposed to be in the third film as the plot was supposed to be about this power-struggle between Michael Corleone and Tom Hayden. Duvall didn’t do the film because of money because he wanted to be paid the same amount that Al Pacino was getting as Duvall deserved that big paycheck. That didn’t happen and Duvall chose to not be in the film.

          • Yolanda Anne Brown

            I heard that. And that would have been a much better plot, especially watching Tom Hagen go up against Michael. In Part 2, Michael told him that he was the only one that he could trust. It would have crushed Michael to see Tom turn traitor.

          • Indeed even though it was Hagen who was forced to stay as Michael threatened to unravel aspects of his life including revealing that Hagen has a mistress to his wife. It was blackmail that forced Hagen to stay as he knew that Michael had gone out of control as Michael would end up committing the great sin in having his own brother killed.

  • Rass

    This article is SO poorly written. Isn’t any proofreading done on this site?

  • Ricardo Correia

    Great first choice
    What is The Godfather and the Dollars Triology doing here?

  • Movie Eater

    The ultimate trilogy is Sion Sono’s “Hate” trilogy consisting of Love Exposure, Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance. Nothing can beat this. All taboos are broken.

  • Josh Lee

    The Thing, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness