It is no secret that I gobble up shorts like there is no tomorrow. It is a fact that does not bare repeating despite the fact I do so again and again. The art of the short form cinema takes one of great talent. It is not just a format for directors to develop their visuals and craft. But short cinema can tell evocative stories, peddle some wonderfully creative and imaginative visuals. They also have a bigger history, where people would be thrilled by cinema in all its innovative glory. So, here are some classic shorts you have to watch.
And an eighties brilliant one thrown in for good measure. Vincent is a delightful grim small film from the electric haired mind of Tim Burton. Though the director is running his uniquely flared movies into tedium, he did have a couple of moments and decades where all he could produce were original excellence. He kicked off his career making shorts which including the grim Frankenweenie and this stop-animation success. Telling the story of a young boy who is obsessed with Vincent Price, the film was a black and white celebration of the old horror master while distinctively setting Burton’s visuals that would become famed later one. With this rolling narrative in deep in rhyme and Edgar Allen Poe gothicness, Vincent is an excellent.
A Trip To The Moon (1902)
It may have only been recently that I spoke about the engaging and glorious La Voyage Dans La Lune but George Melies work has been an inspiring short that has provoked filmmakers to make short films since its dawn; show cased greatly in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. The tale of astronauts flying towards the lunar body and meeting aliens was a visionary triumph for cinema. It captured a wonderful relationship between theatre, magic and cinema as well as portraying a wondrous dream like landscape with impeccable visuals. It was ground-breaking, astonishing and still gorgeous to look at.
La Jetee (1962)
One of the best things about short films is the way you can experiment. You can great a visual narrative without over-selling it, working your ideas into a smaller scale. La Jetee is one of those films. Inspiring Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, the 1962 film is told entirely in Polaroid snaps and narration. Revolving around a dystopian world where humanity is forced to live underground, La Jetee focuses on a protagonist who is sent back in time by scientists in order to find a cure to the virus that roams the land. Terrifying and disturbing at times, La Jetee is a sublime example of how experimental shorts can impact cinema.
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
Talking about experimental, here is a short film that is considered one of the first example of cult classic cinema. Of course, what did you expect when you combine the brains of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel? Nothing less than an unnerving collection of nightmarish shots and scenes that are fragmented yet powerful. It is surrealist and its disjointedness doesn’t follow conventions of cinema that even we’d find strange now. Yet it is there to provoke, to be able to take your own themes and sense of notion from the images you are seeing. The way the film leaves you and that sense of disintegration will leaving you disconcerting.
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Only ten minute long, The Great Train Robbery is a great film that is the definitive term for ground-breaking. Made in 1903 it is one of the first examples of cinema ever. Not just technical but the story structure, visuals and editing all combined for ten rambunctious minutes. Telling the tale of a train being looted by bandits, this short by Edwin S. Porter is an example of human endeavour when it comes to cinema. No, screw that. It is an example of human endeavour when art, history and the world as we know it were shaped somewhat by The Great Train Robbery.
What other classic shorts would you suggest?