Epics

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Epics

Postby Attrage » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:34 pm

Apologies if there's already a thread on this one but I've scrolled through 7 pages in Movies and I couldnt see one. What are your favourite "epic" films? From the old to the new...swords and sandals to crime sagas and everything in between. Here's a few of mine (in alphabetical order) to get the ball rolling...

Alexander
Apocalypse Now
Braveheart
Fall of the Roman Empire
Gladiator
Godfather I and II
Heat
Kingdom of Heaven
Last of the Mohicans
The Last Samurai
Lawrence of Arabia
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Master and Commander
The Mission
Mountains of the Moon
The New World
The Patriot
Red Cliff
Robin Hood
The Sand Pebbles
Spartacus
The Thin Red Line
Troy
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Re: Epics

Postby Ptolemy » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:58 am

So how are you defining 'Epic' - lots of good movies on your list, but I personally wouldn't call all of them Epics. The Mission and The GodFather movies for example. Great Movies, but for me, not Epics. Oh, and good call on Red Cliff!
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Re: Epics

Postby Dan Mancini » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:47 am

See, I would call the Godfather films epic because they span eras and generations. Heat? Not so much. It has a long runtime, but it's not an epic.
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Re: Epics

Postby Paul Kile » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:58 am

How The West Was Won
And if we are including TV miniseries:
Roots
Shogun
The Martian Chronicles (I will forgive them for using a DC-3 control yoke in the spaceship)
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Re: Epics

Postby Andrew Forbes » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:12 am

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Re: Epics

Postby Attrage » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:14 pm

Ptolemy wrote:So how are you defining 'Epic' - lots of good movies on your list, but I personally wouldn't call all of them Epics. The Mission and The GodFather movies for example. Great Movies, but for me, not Epics. Oh, and good call on Red Cliff!

Yeah I see your point with The Mission but I have a pretty broad scope for defining "Epic" I guess so I a few on my list might not actually qualify *technically* as epics. With the Godfather I and II I sort of see those as one movie, and as it has such an operatic, massive scope I see it as an epic story.

I actually just finished watching Red Cliff for the second time today (the extended 4.5 hour version), and developed even more appreciation for it's more subtle moments (the first time I was too blown away by the visuals and battle scenes).
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Re: Epics

Postby Gabriel Girard » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:14 pm

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World ;-)
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Re: Epics

Postby hoytereden » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:33 pm

Lawrence of Arabia would be tops on my list. Now, if only it would get a Blu-ray release. :(
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Re: Epics

Postby yellow ledbetter » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:10 pm

Kingdom of Heaven and Last of the Mohicans for sure. I also dig Lonesome Dove, 300, Dances With Wolves, Watchmen and Gangs of New York. One of the best epics I've ever seen without a doubt though is Schindler's List
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Re: Epics

Postby Mach6 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:36 pm

Superman (1978): Richard Donner & Co. could’ve taken the easy way out & camp it up like the 60’s Batman show, but they were ambitious. I saw Superman about a week ago, & was still impressed with the performances & how most of those special effects & scenes have aged well without any CGI. There are several superhero movies that are better but none as epic as the 1st SM.
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Re: Epics

Postby Attrage » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:06 am

yellow ledbetter wrote:Kingdom of Heaven and Last of the Mohicans for sure. I also dig Lonesome Dove, 300, Dances With Wolves, Watchmen and Gangs of New York. One of the best epics I've ever seen without a doubt though is Schindler's List

I forgot Dances with Wolves. That would also make my list for sure.
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Re: Epics

Postby tucco » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:33 am

I'm in a rush, will think about it later....
But...

RAN ......is about as epic as they come...
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Re: Epics

Postby yellow ledbetter » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:58 am

agreed, Ran is friggin awesome
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Re: Epics

Postby Steve T Power » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:06 am

Generally speaking, my criteria for epic:

- A running time that's longer than average. The starting point for me is typically the 150-160 minute mark. Some are shorter.

- Narrative criteria is more of a grey area; true epics span a larger frame of time, with more characters and interaction, and a broader focus. Or otherwise a tighter all-encompassing focus on a single character.

- Whether based on actual events or not, an epic should strive to set a convincing stage. If not historically accurate, an Epic should be immersive. If you spend 3 hours questioning the validity of an epic, you either shouldn't be watching it to begin with, or it isn't trying hard enough.

- Immersion is paramount - Proper epics have the uncanny ability to transport you to another time or place in ways most other genres can't. The very best of the genre make it so three hours or more feels like 10 minutes.

- Setpieces. Epics play with their action the same way they play with narrative. The very best epics have jaw-dropping scenes of spectacle. A 45 minute battle sequence means so much more when it follows 2 hours of buildup. Epics aren't necessarily action packed, but you know a setpiece when you see it.

It's tough to choose, as the "period epic" is by far my favorite genre of film, but a few of my favorite epics in no particular order:

- Kingdom of Heaven (Director's cut) - In its pure form, this one is a lavishly beautiful film. While hardly accurate, the film applies just the right balance of contemporary idealism to allow us as an audience to gather some idea of what the mindset of the time may have been like. The characters are given space to breathe, the sets, costumes, and performances are all pitch perfect, and by God the siege of Jerusalem is one hell of a spectacle. Just a beautiful film.

- Lawrence of Arabia - Put aside for a second, the fact that the film was made in 1962, and yet outside of the opening credits feels like it could have been filmed a year ago. This is quite simply a stunning portrait of an individual who had a huge impact on one particular corner of the globe. Beautifully shot, and brilliantly acted, this is practically the definition of "epic". For set pieces there's the siege of Aqaba, attacks on trains, and the road to Damascus. A near perfect film for which Peter O' Toole was royally robbed of Oscar gold.

- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Falls 10 minutes shy of the 150 mark, but an epic in every sense of the word. From the opening moments, the film sucks you into its world, and if you give yourself over to it, you won't want to leave, even after the credits start to roll. Crowe gives what I consider the best and most assured performance of his career, and the entirety of the supporting cast shines.

- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - Leone's masterpiece. Sure he made other, longer films later in his career, but this remains the only film in my opinion to really have the feel of an epic. From the crosses and double crosses early on to the Civil War backdrop later in the film, to the final, epic three-way standoff. This isn't just another western.

- Seven Samurai - Oft imitated, never duplicated. It's 207 minutes long, subtitled in Japanese, and black and white, and yet it is relentlessly entertaining. Kurosawa's masterpiece combines visual flair and memorable characters with a meaningful narrative and one hell of a fantastic action sequence. Like so many other classics, the plot is deceptively simple, but the ideas are something a little deeper. Just a great flick.

- Saving Private Ryan - From the harrowing opening sequence to the amazing final act, SPR is about the finest, most entertaining and most flatteringly imitated portrayal of the Second World War in Europe that's been laid to film. I'd also call it the single finest effort in Spielberg's illustrious career, and Hanks' best on screen performance. It's one of those flicks that just transports you completely. Some have problems with the bookends, but they're a decidedly Spielberg-ian touch, and it wouldn't be the same film without them in my opinion.


Some other notables that I love:

- Gladiator
- Alexander - Screw the haters, I thought Stone did a bang up job (avoid the original theatrical cut though).
- Fall of the Roman Empire
- A Bridge Too Far
- Avatar (yes, i said it)
- Braveheart - Hasn't aged as well as i'd like, but still a great effort.
- The New World
- Heat
- The Last Samurai
- El Cid
- Robin Hood
- The Thin Red Line
- The Lord of the Rings
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Re: Epics

Postby Attrage » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:40 pm

Just a few comments in response to Steve’s post above

Alexander – definitely seek out the one called “Alexander Revisited”. Some say it’s too hard to follow due to the narrative skipping between numerous time periods at a moment’s notice, but I never found this to be the case. It just requires (shock, gasp!) concentration, and actually, you know, paying attention to the film you are watching. Alexander also features some of the more visceral and brutal battles I have seen in any epic film, especially the one towards the end in India, featuring elephant-skewering. I can happily watch human beings punctured like pin-cushions (ala 300) but ram a spear through an elephant and suddenly I start to squirm.

Master and Commander – has one of the best opening sequences I’ve ever seen, perfectly demonstrating the utter terror of naval warfare of that period. A wooden ship being hammered by giant balls of iron travelling as fast as bullets...enough said. But another thing about M & C is I love the way that you never see the antagonist; the captain of the French ship is only seen glimpsed through the lens of a telescope. There’s one shot where Crowe is scanning the deck of the Acheron with his scope, and comes to rest upon the French captain also doing the same thing. The moment is chilling. And the kid – his name escapes me but he’s one of my favourite characters in the film – he loses an arm during the attack at the beginning of the film, but is inspired when Crowe’s character gives him a copy of a book about Lord Nelson (a famous British naval officer who also lost an arm in battle) and he ends up being one of the bravest (and coolest) characters in the film.

And Avatar – I left this one off my list but I have now watched it three times and I am enjoying it more each time I see it. Despite things as trite as “Unobtainium” and the villain who practically has “walking cliché” tattooed on his forehead, the film is a big, bold adventure and I think it’s great. (I prefer the original theatrical beginning though as opposed to the one on the extended edition).
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Re: Epics

Postby Gabriel Girard » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:40 pm

Since no one mentionned it yet and becauseI've seen it recently I have to add Patton.
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Re: Epics

Postby Attrage » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:47 pm

Gabriel Girard wrote:Since no one mentionned it yet and becauseI've seen it recently I have to add Patton.

Okay this is way OT but the Simpsons spoof of Patton (complete with glove-slapping incident) is a brilliant piece of comedy. Back on topic, Patton is a movie I definitely have to watch again soon, havent seen it for close to 20 years.
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