April 23, 2016

Watch: 100 of the Most Iconic Shots from the Last 100 Years of Cinema

If aliens came to Earth and asked the human race what this thing called cinema was, this is the video we should show them.

This supercut by Jacob T. Swinney looks back at the last 100 years of cinema and chooses 100 of "the most memorable shots from each year." But understand, this is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill supercut — it's a powerful, powerful piece that actually became an Official Selection at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

I cried watching this supercut — and I really have to ask myself why, because I think that holds the key to why it's such an impactful piece. Was it the shots Swinney used? Sure. Was it the music? Yeah, that probably played a role. Is it the fact that I love the history of cinema? Well, of course that's a part of it. I kept wondering about this on my second and third viewing until it occurred to me — "I feel like I'm watching my child growing up before my eyes."

The work of the forefathers of cinema, D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and F.W. Murnau flickering in black and white, the 1000-yard stare of Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc, the magical special effects in Metropolis — it's like watching your kid smile for the first time, or say its first words, or take its first steps.

It got me thinking, if these early silent films are cinema's first steps and words, what does Furiosa collapsing to her knees in the desert in Mad Max: Fury Road represent in the timeline of cinema? Is it cinema learning to ride a bike? Is it cinema's first kiss? Are we recording cinema carefully pinning a boutonniere to their nervous prom date? 

Then again, cinema isn't even 130 years old — and assuming those cinephilic aliens aren't coming to destroy the planet, it'll be here for a long, long time. So, maybe cinema's not even in its teenage years. Maybe it's not even in its infancy. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, the past 130 years was just our lovely child taking its first breath and opening its eyes for the first time.     

Your Comment

18 Comments

The Matrix ?

April 23, 2016 at 8:12PM

0
Reply

100 years of great American cinema. But there is much more, much more

April 24, 2016 at 1:30AM

0
Reply
avatar
NoOne
Film
140

WOW. I EMAILed these people on a compilation I made and these shows up. SMH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_aVgLgnkZk

Judge for yourself. Mine is Worldwide.

April 24, 2016 at 1:50AM

0
Reply
joel
76

learn modesty

April 24, 2016 at 4:20AM, Edited April 24, 4:20AM

0
Reply

I judged, yours is worse. And I'm not American.

April 24, 2016 at 6:48AM, Edited April 24, 6:48AM

0
Reply
avatar
Gerbert Floor
DP / Director / Camera / Editor
304

April 24, 2016 at 8:37PM

1
Reply
joel
76

Wasnt as good.

April 23, 2017 at 2:50PM

0
Reply
avatar
Bumdog Torres
Bum/Writer/Director
84

Well done Jacob, and thanks for sharing NFS/V.

The shots and the cinematic nature of Jacob's selection are quality, for sure.

I'll echo NoOne and Joel in the sentiment that this is mostly American and other than the Persian emissary kicked down the well in 300, entirely white.

Looking to the next 100 years...

April 24, 2016 at 9:28AM, Edited April 24, 9:28AM

0
Reply
Zac A. Clark
1st AC & Cinematographer
81

As an editor I really love this, I'm working on a project much like this. I think it's interesting how cinema evolved and is evolving. I love how you link the evolution of cinema to a kid growing up because it's true, and for all we know this is just the ultimate beginning of cinema as a whole.

There were a couple of scenes, Iconic scenes I really missed but you can't put everything that has some kind of greater meaning into a relatively short movie so that's understandable. Nonetheless loved watching this cut. My editor-hearth is filled with joy and love for cinema, creativity and creating things in it's own.

April 24, 2016 at 11:38AM

0
Reply
avatar
Marty V.
Editor
81

I love this article. It reminded me of a lot of great old movies. Thank you :)

April 24, 2016 at 1:01PM

0
Reply

It's a nice compilation, but so predominantly American. Most of them are important films, but it's like British, Russian, French cinema doesn't exist in the 20th century, so you have to resort to "Mission Impossible" and "The Avengers"...Where's Godard? Tarkovski? Mike Leigh? I know you can't fit everything, but the current choice turns out to be an American cliche. Still enjoyable, just somewhat cheesy.

April 24, 2016 at 1:26PM

4
Reply
Gleb Volkov
Director of Photography
290

*Most Iconic Shots* ... Many of these shots are not iconic at all. These are just some shots of some iconic Americans Movie.

April 24, 2016 at 7:58PM

4
Reply
avatar
t.
Colorist / Magician
74

Arguable.

April 25, 2016 at 12:18PM

0
Reply
Daniel Wiles
Writer
161

Great composite. I could name most of them, but maybe like many, not all. We needed titles and years for more watchable flow.

April 28, 2016 at 10:45PM

0
Reply
Roger Smith
Screenwriter, actor
74

Did you notice how it got noisier the closer it gets to present time ?

April 30, 2016 at 9:00AM

0
Reply

Unimpressive.
It is an unfortunate by-product of the digital age. History is too easily rewritten, shaped, and spewed out in to the cyber-world to be ingested as fact.

Not even the 'most iconic' shots from some of these films.
At least try putting them in chronological order?
The Avengers (twice?)?? But yet, not a one from some of the most beautifully shot scenes like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzinPgsxokE (Deakins).

I cringe at the thought of what these so-called "official selections" will look like in 20 years. Yikes!

May 2, 2016 at 1:10PM

0
Reply
Michael Ryan
Editor
88

I remixed it a bit - mostly just changed the music - and I think the results are interesting. If you are curious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFThuD0yAeU

June 10, 2016 at 10:10PM

2
Reply

This really inspired my own tutorial on Compositions. In fact I downloaded this and took some out.

https://vimeo.com/191408912

April 23, 2017 at 2:52PM, Edited April 23, 2:52PM

0
Reply
avatar
Bumdog Torres
Bum/Writer/Director
84