The Most Beautiful Shots in Cinema History: Scenes from 100+ Films

If you’re an even mild­ly enthu­si­as­tic film­go­er, these two short com­pi­la­tions from The Solomon Soci­ety will get your life flash­ing before your eyes. They trans­port me to my ninth birth­day screen­ing of The Night­mare Before Christ­mas; my VHS view­ings of Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off at home sick from school; the obses­sion with Blade Run­ner that put me on the road to cinephil­ia; the thrill I got in high school from aes­thet­i­cal­ly dar­ing yet cine­plex-screened major motion pic­tures like Fight Club and The Cell; my induc­tion into auteur cin­e­ma through Stan­ley Kubrick­’s Bar­ry Lyn­don, 2001: A Space Odyssey (seen at Seat­tle’s space-age Cin­era­ma in the actu­al year of 2001), A Clock­work Orange, and The Shin­ing; the sur­prise pub­lic debut Paul Thomas Ander­son­’s The Mas­ter — which hap­pened to fol­low a revival screen­ing of The Shin­ing.

Of course, you’ll expe­ri­ence a flood of dif­fer­ent movie-relat­ed mem­o­ries than I did. Maybe these videos will bring back the exhil­a­ra­tion of see­ing Quentin Taran­ti­no’s Pulp Fic­tion, or even Reser­voir Dogs, back in the nineties. The sto­ry of my own cinephile life could hard­ly be told with­out ref­er­ence to ear­ly Wes Ander­son pic­tures like Rush­more and The Roy­al Tenen­baums.

But per­haps you’ve felt more of an impact from the lat­er, even more visu­al­ly intri­cate work of his that appears here, like The Dar­jeel­ing Lim­it­ed or The Grand Budapest Hotel. Or you could be a movie-lover of a dif­fer­ent stripe alto­geth­er, for whom noth­ing sat­is­fies quite like a clas­sic block­buster, be it the orig­i­nal Star Wars or a long-acclaimed dra­ma like The Shaw­shank Redemp­tion.

The sec­ond of these videos begins with a clip of an inter­view with no less an auteur than Orson Welles. Asked where he got the con­fi­dence to make Cit­i­zen Kane, he replies, “Igno­rance. Sheer igno­rance. There is no con­fi­dence to equal it. I thought you could do any­thing with a cam­era that the eye could do or the imag­i­na­tion could do. And I did­n’t know that there were things you could­n’t do, so any­thing I could think up in my dreams, I attempt­ed to pho­to­graph.” It’s safe to say that none of the dozens upon dozens of shots col­lect­ed here could have been cap­tured by film­mak­ers over­ly con­scious of the impos­si­ble. But how­ev­er strik­ing they look indi­vid­u­al­ly, they’re all even more pow­er­ful in their prop­er con­text: their con­text with­in not just the film, but also the life of the behold­er.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The 100 Most Mem­o­rable Shots in Cin­e­ma Over the Past 100 Years

The Cin­e­matog­ra­phy That Changed Cin­e­ma: Explor­ing Aki­ra Kuro­sawa, Stan­ley Kubrick, Peter Green­away & Oth­er Auteurs

How Famous Paint­ings Inspired Cin­e­mat­ic Shots in the Films of Taran­ti­no, Gilliam, Hitch­cock & More: A Big Super­cut

Sig­na­ture Shots from the Films of Stan­ley Kubrick: One-Point Per­spec­tive

The Great­est Cut in Film His­to­ry: Watch the “Match Cut” Immor­tal­ized by Lawrence of Ara­bia

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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