By Carter Phillips
What are the top 5 films everyone should see? That is a daunting task that I’ve been assigned and partly created for myself. The cinematic medium is subjective and has room for all opinions and tastes. What should make one film more mandatory than the other? If somebody prefers horror to comedy then do they have to watch Modern Times (1935)?
Well, I think it’s healthy for people to open themselves up to things they aren’t familiar with, including movies. In exploring new-to-you areas of cinema, you may discover your new favorites. A category in film that I think is all but forgotten by the mass public is classic cinema, so why not put together a guide of films that everyone should see? Not all these films will be for you, as I picked many which vastly contrast each other in tone, style, decade, genre, and country.
Before I begin the list, I should explain why some expected films may not be present. My reasoning for that is, you’ve most likely already seen them or have already been told multiple times that you need to. So, to make it a little more fun for myself I’ve excluded a couple obvious choices, those being:
Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Wizard of Oz (1939), the original Star Wars trilogy, Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981), and Ghostbusters (1984).
The following films are five which I think everyone should see but most likely haven’t. Five isn’t a big enough number for the breath of classic cinema, so I’m sorry for the cinematic blasphemy. This is my humble curation of five films that, in my opinion, everyone should see.
It may be contradictory for me to pick a film hopefully everyone has seen, but it is at number 5! I consider it to be a good introduction as it’s probably the most approachable film of this list.
If you know the film but haven’t seen it, the movie takes place in the fictional town of Amity. It’s known for its shores where locals and tourists can swim, fish, or tan by the beach; however a sudden spree of shark attacks leave blood in the water.
Police Chief Brody tries to shut the beaches down, but the mayor has to remind him that Amities economy relies on it. As the attacks continue a plan to hunt the shark arises. An unlikely group made up of Brody, an experienced fisher man named Quint and an oceanographer called Hooper sail out to kill the shark.
Keep in mind that this is a horror, so it has a fair bit of blood and scares. So, this may not be a film for those who have squeamish stomachs. I should also mention that there is a brief skinny dipping scene (no nudity is actually shown).
Part of what makes Jaws great is that it’s an example of a technique referred to as “show don’t tell”. It leaves much to the imagination, which inevitably is far scarier than anything that could be done with special effects. The effects are still impressive, as Roger Ebert stated when it first came out, “Some of the footage in the film is of an actual great white shark. The rest uses a mechanical shark patterned on the real thing. The illusion is complete. We see the shark close up, we look in its relentless eye, and it just plain feels like a shark.”
#4 Throne of Blood
Set in the Edu era of Japan, Throne of Blood is a unique adaption of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Again, for those who are squeamish at the sight of blood, this is a bit of a violent film for its time.
Through a mist of thick fog, dense woods and further too; stretches of empty dirt lies Spiderweb Castle (of which the film is named after in its country of origin).
A patriotic soldier and his somewhat meek comrade come across a demon who lurks in the forest. The demon tells that they are near distinct futures: one that the patriotic soldier will rule the throne and that his friend, Miki will be commander of the first fortress and that afterwards his son will become lord of the Spider Web Castle.
They laugh it off, skeptic of the prediction but as the first comes true a dreary foreboding envelopes their emotions. The patriotic soldier named Washizu wants to stay loyal, and in doing so can’t foresee himself getting the throne. His wife leads him astray, and in doing so he betrays his advisories for a cost seen later in the film.
Throne of Blood is a film about fate, greed and the path that takes people down. It also queries whether or not one is truly in control of they’re future or if they are simply destine for it instead. It’s a morality tale which I think should be learned by everyone.
#3 Wild Strawberries
Wild Strawberries is an inmate film that takes place during the climax of a life. The life is of Isak, an elderly man who is journeying to his honorary degree. He’s a man who seems to be loved by those around him, but despised by those nearest to him. It’s about the people he meets along the way, whether for the first time or for perhaps, the last. Its about him accepting that his days are dwindling and that he can’t change what happened in his past.
Through his sunken eyes, the audience relives his memories and experiences his dreams. In those sequences, the viewer learns more about him, than those which take place in the contemporary. The concept of limbo plays a big part in the film as Isak finds himself wandering in and out of reality, like a dementia victim saying goodbye to his memories for the last time.
[This paragraph has spoilers, skip it if you have yet to see the film]
The film has what I would describe as prolific innuendos, for instance a scene in a car that in each row, sits stages of love: In the back sits the young who are optimistic, in the middle a slowly aging couple who are sick of each other and in the front are the embers of a dead relationship. (That’s a scene which might have drawn inspiration from the Japanese travelogue drama, Mr Thank you.) Isak who’s wife had died years previous and his daughter-in-law who is abandoning her husband. Or another scene in which one of the friends Isak makes along his journey asks him if he is religious. He glances at him for a moment, and then continues recounting a poem of Swedish lore. Why doesn’t he answer? Is it that he is afraid to admit he is? Or has he lost his faith? The answer may be obvious to some viewers but likely varies.
Maybe what makes the film great is not just how his past hangs over him, but how those who he embarks his journey with remind him of either himself, or those he once knew. The film is an arthouse endeavor into melancholy, regret, nostalgia, and philosophy; told through the lens of surrealism and blank neo-realism.
Set in the nazi occupied Casablanca (a city in Morocco), the film defines the golden era of Hollywood. Nobody but nobody wants to remain in Casablanca, they want to flee into America, the epitome of a new world, and therefore a new life.
The film is an allegory for America’s transition from anti to pro war with the lead character Rick representing The United States. He says that he, “Sticks his neck out for no one.” The shooting began only six months after America joined the war.
Rick is played by one of my favorite actors: Humphrey Bogart. Bogarts characters were the coolest in they’re movies. They were also men who’s emotions fluttered recognizably in the most subtle of expression changes.
Bogart was cast alongside Ingrid Bergman, a Swedish actor who became a star after moving to America. She plays an old love of Bogarts who is now in a relationship with an important politician, played by Paul Henreid (also well known for his role in Now Voyager) who is vital for the war effort.
The problem is that the old lovers still have emotions for each other, as the song suggests, “The fundamental things apply, as time goes by.” The song in question is sang by Dooley Wilson who is the piano player known as Sam, as well as Ricks best friend. He’s a black character who is treated equally by those around him, making the chemistry between the characters, as well as a lack of stereotypes refreshing during a time when Hollywood focused on attractive white people.
The plot thickens when Rick is able to get two plain tickets to America, those being a mcguffin in Casablanca. He has to choose between leaving to America and taking Bergman’s character with him or letting her go without him and taking the politician instead. The climax of the film is one of the most iconic in cinema history.
What makes Casablanca more essential over other greats like Citizen Kane or 2001: A Space Odyssey, films which I consider to better, is that it is much more approachable for a less mature audience. It’s not likely to bore as those would and yet it can still be appreciated.
#1 King Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World
The story of King Kong is that of a filmmaker who ventures into the mysterious Skull Island after hearing rumors of a giant beast whom the natives worship. So with him he brings a moderate sized crew and a young woman named Anne Darrow.
The film depicts the all to real circumstance of a woman’s choices in 1930’s America being decided not by herself but by the men around her, the screenplay after-all was written by a woman whom had been on many voyages exactly like the one in the movie (however with a less interesting destination). The misogynistic crew members are shown but aren’t celebrated. The film takes place through Anne’s perspective and is a somewhat early example of a box office success that has a female lead. Other examples include: The Story of Temple (1933), Jezebel (1938), Dark Victory (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone With The Wind (1939)
King Kong is a film about a man who cares more about making money than the safety of other people. He represents all the engineers who’s rollercoasters failed and all architects who’s ships sank with passengers on board. The film too, is about forbidden love, also unrequited love; a common trope of genre films from the era such as: The Phantom of the Opera (1925), The Mummy (1932), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Mad Love (1935),.
The film balances many different genres, some which shouldn’t clash well but yet do. It’s at times a Romance, at other times an Adventure, even a Horror; but most of all it’s a Fantasy film. It’s a grand spectacle with innovative special effects that although not as convincing today, as still impressive and complex.
Its most known for its stop motion, but it also used matte paintings, rear projection, front projection, mirrors to alter the image, animatronics, sound effects in reverse, miniatures and an early green screen equivalent in which what wasn’t meant to be shown was wrapped in black velvet. All of which was achieved in 1933 years before technicolor (a major color process) was perfected and popularized. Often times several of the techniques were all used in the same frame.
In most of the skull island scenes, the special effects team would layer the scene by putting matte paintings (glass which is partially painted to create a realistic image) in front of the miniatures and also behind. That created depth. They would often too, have to project live action footage, frame by frame onto tiny projection screens where the people were supposed to be.
The five films presented are not chosen just because they have good reviews, or because they may be famous. They are chosen because in them an audience can observe the human condition. Through the eyes of the camera you can see history, culture and art; most of all you see a portrait of humanity playing in the realms of fiction. Each film is an emotion, and after its watched, it’s also a memory. I hope I have given a unique list and perspective of the films. That I think, is part of what makes cinema great, all films are subjective and bring with them an infinite amount of opinions and emotions yet they all consist of the same memory.
By Jacob Fisher
Students at Sheyenne have recently attended their first Wednesday under an open school model, where learning at your own pace in the classes you want is the norm. Roaming the halls will give you a sense of how massive a change this model is: students are arriving back after buying a pizza for their friends, groups are congregating in the halls to talk about their future plans while working on homework, and a few individuals have even cast AirPlay onto the lunchroom TVs to play Subway Surfer. Some students, however, are focusing a bit more on their classes and extracurriculars.
Stephon Blanchard and Sam Widjaja of the Esports Club express positive comments about the change while playing League of Legends to practice for the next game. “[It was] confusing for the start, but, honestly, I think we’ll get used to it.” Sam exclaimed, going back to gameplay with Stephon.
One student who was working on homework in the FTLA, Anabel Routleedge, mentioned that the new Wednesday plan has helped her catch up on school work. “I have had time to talk to teachers for anything I don’t understand, and [they] can help improve what you are doing for homework and make sure you are doing things correctly.” She planned to go to AP US History later.
In Mr. Kurtti’s room, students were busy working on their English papers. One was Bailey Grinde, who was doing the same with a large coffee sitting next to her. She, along with most other students, experienced the opposite change last Spring: full online learning without much motivation to get anything done. Due to the difficulties of working at home, she ended up failing the last semester of English I and is now taking it in the same semester as English II. It was safe to say she hated the online schedule. “You weren’t in person so the teacher couldn’t explain anything and it was hard to understand. It was hard to figure things out for yourself.” However, she is loving the new Wednesday schedule. “It helps me because it gives me freedom of what I need to do. I get an hour, or however long I need, and I get to sit with the teacher and get help and turn in missing assignments. I wish everyday school day was like this.”
Isabel Wedding, another English II student, also chimed in with similar thoughts to Mr. Williams, saying that the encouragement to raise your grades to not attend Wednesdays sounded effective. “I think this will push students to get their grades up so they don’t have to come in. They will say ‘Oh, I can sleep in!’”
Wednesdays should be spent at home for many students in the future if their grades are proficient.
By Carter Phillips
If you’re a senior you’re likely familiar with the profile of a graduate procedure but may be bewildered by it. That said, who better to explain it than a freshman? Actually, this freshman sat down with Assistant Principal Nate Schleicher and Assistant Superintendent Allen Burgad to find out more.
According to Nathan Schleicher; assistant principal at Sheyenne High School,”The purpose [for it,] is for students to reflect back on their education and recognize their own growth not just in math, reading, or science, but as a citizen in our community. We want our graduates and citizens in our community to be well-rounded people with skills to succeed in whatever path they choose.”
For those wondering where the idea came from, he responded, “The federal government passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. This legislation allowed states to adjust the way that schools and school staff are evaluated. In North Dakota, the State Department of Public Instruction (DPI) decided that we want students who graduate to be “Choice Ready” meaning that students are prepared for any path they want to choose: college, career, or military service. The state of North Dakota worked with school and community leaders to determine that in order for students to be “Choice Ready” they have to demonstrate skills that best help in our rapidly changing world.” These skills (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Compassion, Reflection, Resilient and Responsibility) are what now constitute the Profile of a Graduate, which many seniors are reflecting upon in their Profile of a Graduate website. These website becomes part of the required “capstone presentation, where the student reflects on all their learning in school and is able to explain that learning and growth to an audience.”
West Fargo Public School’s Assistant Secondary Superintendent[PC1] , Allen Burgad says that such a capstone project is something being established in other schools. He shared that, “many schools not only in the area but in the region and the United States” are embracing more reflection on the education experience. According to him, “people are becoming more thoughtful [about] that [and in regard to], how do students learn? How do students socially interact well? How do students succeed in college beyond just having a good ACT?”
Schleicher, when asked about how the skills apply to life after high school, commented,” The Profile of a Graduate skills are life skills. They are important now and will always stay important. For the presentation: Think about a job interview. People can spend years learning and preparing for a specific job. In the end, an individual will or will not get that job based on his/her ability to communicate that he/she has the skills necessary to do the job well.”
In other words, he suggests that this procedure is not simply necessary because it may help students achieve in they’re future careers, but that it examines important traits in a personal life. This procedure shows that to get a job which fits your interest, you are also required to be a good co-worker, who is reliable, collaborative, and a professional communicator.
Nonetheless, it begs the question: If this procedure is new and people have had success prior to it, why is it necessary?
Dr Burgad responded by saying, “Its hard to measure these skills and I think [that] the description is somewhat defined by what communication looks like and what collaboration looks like so I’ll adventure to state that students that are successful in college probably have a strength- or these characteristics or attributes of profile of a graduate.” As he puts it, the skills have been present all along, now students are being asked to think about them more intentionally in the hopes more will leave high school with these tools for success.
He later added, “These skills here are something that I always have to continue to go back to once a month and do better in my job. You have to be very thoughtful because it’s changing. You can’t work in isolation anymore; relationships are so big and it takes effort and it takes reflection on those skills that are important to [be successful]. I think it’s beyond just being an individual in college and graduating.”
On the surface, this might seem like another project or another requirement, but as Schleicher and Burgad explained, it is rooted in the skills students will take with them to college or the workforce. For seniors, the profile of a graduate should be a system of pride, in which students can mark they’re best qualities.
The Mustang Post
All feature news content is produced by students in the Newspaper program at West Fargo Sheyenne High School.