The ten films that changed the world

The ten films that changed the world

MALE AND FEMALE, 1919

But then came movie stars and, in particular, Gloria Swanson. Half forgotten now, she was a Hollywood star in Capital Letters. It wasn’t Swanson on her own who changed the world, but Swanson reflected in the mirror of her times. As Cari Beauchamp tells me in my film, in the 1910s and 1920s, people lived in bell jars. Most didn’t travel more than 100 miles from their homes. But at night they went to see a film like Male and Female, in which Cecil b Demille directed Swanson. She plays Lady Mary Lasenby, dressed in feathers and furs, a creature unlike any that most women had ever met. She travelled and sinned, and women projected their wanderlust, their explorer instincts, on to her. In one scene in this movie, Swanson lies down as a lion paws her. Freud would have had a field day. Films like Male and Female gave to the 20th century, images of decadent, adventurous women that changed women’s inner lives.

THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, 1935

It...
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