Top 10 British Films That Changed Cinema Forever


Move over, America. These Brit flicks redefined the movie industry. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll
be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Movies Which Changed Cinema Forever. For this list, we take a look at some of the
British masterpieces that have influenced cinema worldwide and forever changed the way
we experience movies. There had been attempts to bring Ian Fleming’s
007 to the big screen before this, but “Dr. No” is the first Eon Productions effort,
and widely regarded as the first true Bond movie. Introducing Sean Connery as the iconic super
spy, Bond has become one of the world’s most recognisable and influential film characters. And ever since this historic introduction,
the secret agent has battled larger than life villains, with guns, gadgets, cars and catchphrases
to shape the series – and define the spy-thriller genre, in general. Laurence Olivier’s “Hamlet” still sets
the benchmark for any cinematic Shakespeare adaptation. This version of the famous play is one of
the most firmly planted in popular consciousness, particularly noted for Olivier’s tense rendition
of the “To be or not to be” monologue, as well as some lavish settings and stand-out
performances from the entire cast. The Bard still stands as inspiration for storytellers
everywhere, and Olivier was a master at translating the playwright for film. The
Beatles certainly changed pop music forever, and they impacted film, too. “A Hard Day’s Night” rewrote the boundaries
between music and the movies. Capturing the Beatles at the height of their
fame in a whirlwind of cinematic inventiveness, Richard Lester directs an all-encompassing
extravaganza giving fresh insight on the Fab Four, as they travel from Liverpool to a televised
gig in London. Hilarious shenanigans ensue – and
the soundtrack’s second to none! Alfred Hitchcock reached the peak of his fame
while working in the US, thanks to classics including “Rear Window” and “Psycho”. But Hitchcock’s work began in Britain, and
“The 39 Steps” could be considered as the apex of the first half of the director’s
career. Regarded as a masterpiece by the likes of
Orson Welles, the edge-of-seat story of espionage and murder proved one of the most important
and influential thrillers of the century, becoming Hitchcock’s first great spy movie. From famed Ealing Studios, the home of classic
British comedy, comes one of the wittiest, most brilliant and best-known productions
in the genre, often described as one of the greatest British films ever made. Sporting an exceptional cast, including fan
favourite Alec Guinness and the legendary Peter Sellers, “The Ladykillers” follows
the misadventures of five oddball criminals and the old lady from whom they’re renting
rooms, by pretending to be musicians. A laugh-out-loud black comedy, it has inspired
countless films since. This essential historical drama, based on
the life and writings of T.E. Lawrence, an esteemed British officer in World War I, is
a first port of call for fans of British film. David Lean, who at the time of shooting had
already directed another great British war epic, “The Bridge on the River Kwai”,
builds upon the complex man at the centre of his story with grand visuals and masterful
performances from a star-studded cast. It’s an epic and then some! Michelangelo Antonioni’s finest foray into
British cinema makes for one of the most beautiful and unnerving films ever set in London. A complex and challenging piece of art, with
its explicit depictions of sex and drug use, this film directly contributed to the abolition
of the Production Code in America – a set of moral guidelines for US movies, which stood
until 1968. Charting a day in the life of a fashion photographer
who believes he may have captured a murder on film, “Blow-Up” proved counterculture
perfection, and remains a favourite for cinephiles worldwide. Of all the masterclasses that the Powell and
Pressburger duo have given us, this was probably the most controversial – at least at the time
of release. Earning heavy disapproval from the 1940s UK
government, which didn’t understand its particular shade of patriotism, “The Life and Death
of Colonel Blimp” remains an unparalleled parable on love, friendship, war, and what
it means to be English. It’s probably not as well known as “The
Red Shoes” or “Black Narcissus”, but Powell and Pressburger ranked it as one of
their best. And we wholeheartedly agree. A watershed moment for mainstream cinema,
“A Clockwork Orange” is at its core a very British film. True, director Stanley Kubrick was American,
but by ’71 he was working exclusively in Britain, also going on to make one of the
UK’s finest period dramas, in “Barry Lyndon”.[1] But “Clockwork Orange” gives a grotesque
and unique focus to violence, freedom and control which, though it was banned for decades,
brought a brand new emphasis and direction to film. A wide-ranging rule-breaker, it forced international
conversations on censorship, and the relationship between crime, psychology and the media. Universally recognised as a definitive film
in its genre, “The Third Man” is the epitome of film noir. Written by Graham Greene, one of the most
English authors of the twentieth century, and directed by Carol Reed, it stars Orson
Welles in one of his most memorable (and menacing) performances. Set in post-World War II Vienna, “The Third
Man” sports an expressionist black and white look which would go on to inspire generations
of film noir cinematographers, as well as countless contemporary classics.

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