Epic Movies

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Andrew_Sch, Aug 25, 2002.

  1. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    Watching Ben-Hur for the first time last night, I came to the realization that I really love epic movies, especially those about the Roman period. Despite its nearly four-hour run time and the fact that it was made with an entirely different audience in mind, I was never bored for a second. I guess I just really like stories of people who are torn down and then build themselves up to something even greater than they were to begin with. Yeah, Heston is guilty of hamming it up a bit, but that's the fun of it all. Besides this, I also loved Spartacus, Spartacus-lite Gladiator, and Braveheart. I've got the Ten Commandments in my Netlix queue as well. What else am I missing out on?
     
  2. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    Having just watched the 200-minute Dr. Zhivago last night, I'm reminded why it's one of my favourite films. It's epic in all aspects, and while it's not swords and sandals, fur and snow lend themselves to the epic format, too.
    Check it out, if you haven't. It looks marvelous on DVD.
     
  3. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    Oh yeah, there's one I forgot because I was thinking more along the lines of way back-there in time epics. I've seen LOA too (well most of it, I actually fell asleep), and started a rather inflamatory thread about it way back when. However, that was a while ago, and I've since gained a new appreciation for the non-story elements of movie-making and I think I brought the wrong expectations of the movie with me. Hopefully it will make a better impression on me the second time around, when I see it at the Senator on the big screen this September.
     
  4. Michael Taylor

    Michael Taylor Stunt Coordinator

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    1.) The Greatest Story Ever Told (also with Charlton Heston and Max von Sydow)
    2.) Lawrence of Arabia
     
  5. Werner_R

    Werner_R Stunt Coordinator

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    I can also recommend El Cid, another great epic with Charlton Heston. But why does it take so long to get released on dvd ! gimme gimme gimme [​IMG]
     
  6. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Welp, i'd better say it before Tino does [​IMG], James Cameron's Titanic is my favorite.
    Second is definatly The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
    Third would be Saving Private Ryan.
     
  7. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    For Roman-era Epics there are two more very good films I could recommend. (neither are in the same league as Ben-Hur/Spartacus though)
    Demetrius and the Gladiators 1954 - out on DVD
    Fall of the Roman Empire 1964 - Same basic story/characters as Gladiator without the Gladiator fights. Has a stellar cast including Alec Guinness as Marcus Aurelius, Christopher Plummer as Commodus, Sophia Loren as Lucilla, Stephen Boyd (Ben-Hur), James Mason and Omar Sharif. Not on DVD though.
    For a Medieval Epics:
    Rob Roy 1995 - out on DVD
    The Vikings 1958 - out on DVD
    and of course the Samurai Epics:
    The Samurai Trilogy 1954-56 - Criterion DVD's
    Chushingura 1962 - Tale of the 47 Ronin - out on DVD
    Kurosawa's Ran, Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo & Sanjuro - out on DVD
    Kurosawa's Kagemusha, Throne of Blood - not on DVD
     
  8. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    For true epicness try Monty Python and the Holy Grail, makes Ben-Hur look like like an epic, ni![​IMG]
    Ben-Hur (1959) is numero uno in my super epic list, unbeatable, that chariot race gets me every time.
    El Cid is huge too, great battles, superb score by Miklos Rozsa. Actually if you watch the big battle at the end of 'El Cid' you can spot a white truck moving in the background, yep is true, I hope we get a suitably epic remastered DVD of this great film next year, than we can all use the zoom function and have a good look at that pesky truck.[​IMG]
    Lawrence of Arabia is the very definition of epic, great great movie, and if you look carefully you can spot a camel moving in the distance...
     
  9. DavidDeane

    DavidDeane Extra

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    What makes a movie an epic? Is it the historical subject matter? The long running time? The production values? The size of the cast? The exotic locations?

    Someone mentioned Saving Private Ryan; a good war movie, but not, IMO, an epic.

    I think Dr. Zhivago was probably the last of the old school, Hollywood studio epics (or one of the last).

    I'm unsure whether to classify Titanic as a "new school epic" given its smaller cast, and limited scale - all the action takes place aboard a single ship over a very short time period. I think there is something about vast horizons and massive scale which are necessary to make something an "epic"; Titanic is actually just a love story in an historical setting, whereas your classic epic may have love story/stories, but these are always subordinated to the overall storyline, rather than becoming the exclusive storyline.

    LOTR (whether just FOTR, or the entire series) is definitely an epic; apart from the fantasy element instead of the historical element (and the fantasy is actually an imaginary history rather than pure fantasy), LOTR has all of the classic elements of the old Hollywood epic: massive production, "cast of thousands", scores of exotic location shoots, huge sets, long running time (three and a half hours if you count the extended cut).

    I can't think of any recent films which match LOTR in terms of these epic qualifications: there are lots of other recent big budget films, but none of them have the epic "feel" to them that LOTR does. The Star Wars series comes close, but its cast is rather limited in comparison to LOTR, and its just a bit too slick (IMO) and too fast paced, to give me that undefinable "epic" feel (again, IMO). Probably Star Wars does not feel like an epic because it was patterned after the classic B movie serials Lucas grew up enjoying, rather than being patterned after classic Hollywood epics.

    LOTR definitely gives me the kind of massive, large scale, sprawling epic sensation the movies like Dr. Zhivago give me. I can't think of any recent movies besides LOTR that do (although I don't go to the cinema that much, so who knows).
     
  10. Wayne W

    Wayne W Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm not sure what exactly qualifies an epic. But some good movies I would consider epics:

    Lawrence of Arabia
    The Bridge on the River Kwai
    Empire of the Sun
    Braveheart
    Dances with Wolves
    Once Upon a Time in America
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    So far no one has mentioned what many would consider to be the American epic: Gone with the Wind.
    M.
     
  12. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    Here's one that hasn't been mentioned:
    Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi" starring Ben Kingsley. It too is a long one at 190 minutes with crowds of real people not computer-generated ones.
     
  13. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    While it's not on DVD yet (and it should be!), check out the 1925 silent version of Ben-Hur. It's on VHS

    I actually find it to have an edge to the 1959 remake.
     
  15. John Gates

    John Gates Second Unit

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    It's hard to define "epic," but when I hear the word I usually think of scope of the production and scenery, lenth of the feature, and the time span of the feature.

    Ben Hur is a good example. It's a long movie, takes place over many years of struggle, and was set in several "lands."

    OTOH, I also consider Dances with Wolves an epic. This qualifies because of the pure grandeur and scale of things.

    Found this in an online dictionary and thought it interesting:

    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos word, speech, poem -- more at VOICE
    Date: 1589
    1 : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic
    2 a : extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope b : HEROIC
    - ep·i·cal /-pi-k&l/ adjective
    - ep·i·cal·ly /-pi-k(&-)lE/ adverb
     
  16. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    My favorite Epics are as follows, in no particular order:

    Ben-Hur
    The Ten Commandments
    Star Wars
    Gladiator
    Braveheart
    Dr. Zhivago

    My definition of epic is a film with a story told on a huge scale and with a large cast. Epics also tend to have sweeping scores. It's too early to tell if LOTR will join my favorites list, but it's a good probability.
     
  17. Nick_Scott

    Nick_Scott Second Unit

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    I just recently watched "Agony and the Ecstasy" (also with Charlton Heston).
    I was very impressed. Beautifull Cinematography, and it seems very 'epic-like'.
    I've tried to find the DVD, but it looks like it doesnt exist. Amazon does list a VHS, but it doesnt say its AR.
     
  18. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    AGONY AND THE ECSTASY was shot in Todd-AO with an AR of 2.2:1....I don't think any video versions have been mastered from the 65MM negative, so even the widescreen laserdisc and widesceen broadcasts on AMC would have the 2.35:1 ratio of the 35MM printdown.
     
  19. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    Hmm. Does that mean Star Wars, particularly Empire Strikes Back is an epic? [​IMG]
    I would say you can't define an epic except by example. It's too 'wooly' an item.
    I'd also suggest that it may not be possible to suggest any modern 'epics' because hasn't the term come to mean a period of cinema as much as a type of film?
    I'm interested here. What do others think?
     
  20. Lee_eel

    Lee_eel Second Unit

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    Blair Witch was an epic. Oh sorry, it just seemed to last for hours!
     

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