One of the first films to confront the horrors of the Holocaust remains one of the most powerful. Suffused with the visceral dread of a waking nightmare, Distant Journey draws from director and Holocaust survivor Alfréd Radok’s own experiences to tell the story of a Czechoslovak Jewish family—including a young doctor (Blanka Waleská) and her gentile husband (Otomar Krejča)—whose lives are torn apart by the terrors of the Nazi occupation, leading them inexorably to a grim fight for survival in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Blending expressionistic cinematography with archival documentary footage (some drawn from Triumph of the Will) to potent effect, this harrowing vision of human atrocity was banned in its home country for more than forty years, only to reemerge as urgent and impactful as ever.
This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red(Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema.
The Hong Kong crime drama was jolted to new life with the release of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, a bracing, explosively stylish critical and commercial triumph that introduced a dazzling level of narrative and thematic complexity to the genre with its gripping saga of two rival moles.
The release of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows in 1959 shook world cinema to its foundations.