the awesome/terrifying freedom

out here, somewhere, figuring it all out.

a visual representation of my movie watching

since announcing my film literacy project in late september, i've been steadily watching the history of film, in a roughly sequential order. my original list of 500-some movies gradually grew to a current list of 751. the original master list compiles the following lists:
  • roger ebert's 'the great movies' (films added as he adds them to the list)
  • richard maltin's top 100
  • afi top 100
  • imdb top 250 (i wanted popular films, not just critical successes)
  • best picture oscar winners
the interesting thing that started to happen was that after watching a lot of silent films, i began to understand the language of silents and wanted to seek more out - so i'd go searching for another list that would add a few more silents, but would also pepper in other films throughout the list.

then after reaching the films of the 1940's, i started to realize that by now, adding in another list isn't really going expand it by much (there is a lot of overlap), so i added a few more in.

i wanted to see foreign film history unfold, so i added:
  • all winners of the best foreign film oscar
  • movieline's top 100 foreign films
i chanced on this list online, saw it had some new films in it, and added it to the list as well:
  • totalfilm's most influential films
after adding these, i felt it was time to stop adding. if the list gets too big, i'll never get through the whole thing. i need to complete the list as is first, and then add into it afterwards. but then i realized a key list was missing:
  • the 100 all time box office adjusted for ticket price inflation
this list added a fascinating new element: audience hits, but critical failures. no picture of the history of film can be complete without exploring that.

and so, 752 films. all data is kept on an excel spreadsheet, which was once online, but i'm working on updating the data (google docs incorrectly imports colored cells, which screws up my system for tracking what i've watched, so keeping the list up to date online has been a pain). in excel it's easy to scale your page to fit the screen. because i color-code the films i've seen, zooming way out shows you just how much of the 'bible' i've 'read.' here's the visualization in a strip:

the top of the strip is 1895 and the bottom is 2008. the blue area represents films that i've seen and the white is films i've yet to see. i've seen nearly all of the 162 film on the list before 1950 (which is that big block of blue at the top). the giant gap in my viewing is the period from 1950 to 1980. there are nearly 100 films in each decade, and i can't wait to see how history, american culture, and film technology evolve during that period. i can't wait until i can look at one giant, big blue block of seen films.

i feel like i'm done adding for now. i'm still not totally opposed to adding new lists, but a compelling argument must be made for how its inclusion would inform my reading of the other lists. but once i finish this project in its present form, i will probably seek to double the size of the list, adding in any esoteric collection i can possibly find.

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  • 5: the man of genius

  • 4: blunders & absurdities

  • 3: conservative after dinner

  • 2: what lies below

  • 1: where there is no path

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