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greatest trilogy ever?

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I was about to sign off on my Return of the King review when it occured to me that "the greatest movie trilogy ever made" might not be quite so accurate. I don't think there's any question that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is better than the Matrix and Back to the Future trilogies, and I am quite prepared to argue that it's better than the Star Wars trilogy (though of course Lucas didn't have the advantage of starting with such great source material), and I do not consider the Indiana Jones series a "trilogy" in the first place -- it's just a series of films that happened to stop at three -- but it occurs to me that art-house directors like Bergman and Kieslowski have made movies in groups of three that might qualify as "trilogies". So I'm revising my statement to "the greatest mainstream movie trilogy ever made."

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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Roger Ebert touches on this in his current Movie Answer Man column, specifically mentioning Bergman's "Silence of God" trilogy and Ford's "Cavalry" trilogy. But he also points out that these "trilogies" are united not by common characters and a single story-arc but by theme and motif. He also mentioned Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy," unseen by me (does this one have common characters and a common storyline, or is it one of the other sort?). Another one, of course, is Kieslowski's "Colors" trilogy.

Perhaps we might call thematic projects unconnected by story and characters "triptychs" rather than trilogies? At the very least, they're two different sorts of "trilogies."

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What are the films that make up the "Silence of God" Trilogy?

-s.

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He also mentioned Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy," unseen by me (does this one have common characters and a common storyline, or is it one of the other sort?).

Apu is the name of the central character, a little boy ... I haven't seen it either, though.

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What are the films that make up the "Silence of God" Trilogy?

Ebert lists them as "Through a Glass Darkly," "Winter Light," and "The Silence." Clearly, though, it's also a major theme in "The Seventh Seal."

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Too bad they made ROCKY IV and ROCKY V, or The Italian Stallion Trilogy coulda bin a contender.

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FWIW, Stephen Snyder of Zertinet Movies calls LOTR "probably the best American trilogy ever made."

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SDG wrote:

: FWIW, Stephen Snyder of Zertinet Movies calls LOTR "probably the best

: American trilogy ever made."

Well, I guess a few of the actors WERE American, even if most of them were faking British accents ... apart from that, though, the films were written and directed by New Zealanders, they were based on a book by a Brit, they feature lots of British and Australian actors, and the music was composed by a Canadian. Oh, I suppose the MONEY for these films was put up by Americans, but um, does that make these "American" films?

BTW, what do people make of the term "quadrilogy" for the Alien series? I once heard Daniel Amos's Alarma! Chronicles referred to as a "tetralogy", but while DA definitely intended to tell a four-part story, the Alien series has basically been, to re-word an old saying, just one damn film after another (more inter-connected than the James Bond or Indiana Jones films, but less connected than the Star Wars or Matrix or even Back to the Future films).

Oh, and are the three Godfather films a "trilogy"? Francis Ford Coppola says it was his idea to call the second film "Part 2" -- which kicked off the trend in the late '70s and '80s of tacking numbers onto the ends of your movie titles whenever you made sequels -- because he really believed that the first two movies were THAT connected. But he wanted to call the third film The Death of Michael Corleone because, although it featured the same characters, he didn't feel it was as connected to the first two films as the first two films were to each other; however, by that point, he had lost his box-office clout and, now that the numbering system was an established tradition, the studio forced the more conventional title on him.

One reason I ask is because I believe the Godfather films represent the only series apart from The Lord of the Rings in which the sequels have been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, with Part 2 being the only sequel to actually WIN the top prize.

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Mad Max is the best trilogy ever.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Mad Max is the best trilogy ever.

More evidence that Leary excels in English only to struggle in math. smile.gif

-s.

Edited by stef

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Posted · Report post

We have already had this discussion.

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When you say "we," do you mean me and you, or you and someone else here? Because one plus one plus one plus one does not equal three, at least not here in America.

-s.

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(M)Leary wrote:

: Mad Max is the best trilogy ever.

Is it really a trilogy, or is it just a series of films that happens to stop at three?

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2004)

-s.

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All three films are calculated to work as three. It works so well as a trilogy for any number of reasons:

1. Society characterized by presence of the female (matriarchal)

2. Society characterized by presence of the male (patriarchal)

3. Society (going to be) characterized by a perfect balance of both (egalit.)

1. The Urban is the natural order ("Christian" Capitalist Myth)

2. The task of Survival is the natural order (Darwinist Myth)

3. The Organic culture is the natural order (The Romanticist/Literary Myth)

1. The ethics of justice = morality

2. The ethics of survival = morality

3. The ethics of hope/love = morality

1. Man depends on "civilization"

2. Man depends on basic "commodities"

3. Man depends on "myth"

Etc...

So there are all these philosophical triads that mark the transitions of each film. The fourth one, although being written by the good Dr., will only serve to tip this balance one way or the other. At the same time there is descent in terms of culture, there is an ascent in terms of the character of the central figures in the narrative. I honestly don't think Mad Max is the best trilogy ever, I threw it out in jest. (Though it is remarkably marginalized as cheesy apocalypticism.)

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That's interesting, (M)Leary. It kind of reminds me of how I have used to say that the Pixar films could be neatly categorized as Rural (A Bug's Life), Urban (Monsters, Inc.) and Suburban (the Toy Story films); Finding Nemo kind of transcends those categories by being about a Journey. I am not really sure where Pixar can go from here, without repeating themselves; that new super-hero movie looks like a Suburbanization of an Urban archetype (super-heroes being urban, family men with beer bellies being suburban).

BTW, it occurs to me that another unconventional "trilogy" or "triptych" we might want to consider is Baz Luhrmann's "Red Curtain" thing, or whatever it's called (Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!).

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I honestly don't think Mad Max is the best trilogy ever, I threw it out in jest.

I knew this, which is why i was so quick to discard it the way i did. Partially in jest as well.

(Though it is remarkably marginalized as cheesy apocalypticism.)

I know this, too, but i really would like to look closer at it someday and see the films in the better context you refer to. What was the site previously posted that had that brilliant article we once referred to? And when are you going to write a brilliant article on it?

-s.

Edited by stef

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I am not really sure where Pixar can go from here, without repeating themselves; that new super-hero movie looks like a Suburbanization of an Urban archetype

This is really really insightful stuff PTC, have you written this up yet? One could then wonder if the destiny of Pixar is to go through the rural to the urban to the suburban...and then to land in the endless loop of gentrification. The continual commodification of the suburban in the first two motifs.

BTW, it occurs to me that another unconventional "trilogy" or "triptych" we might want to consider is Baz Luhrmann's "Red Curtain" thing, or whatever it's called (Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!).

Oh man. If we were really going to vote on a "trilogy" list, this would be way way at the top for me. It would be tough to argue for this as a trilogy in the same sense as FOTR (which is one story) or the Silence of God Trilogy (which is three stories with very common elements). It is more of a trilogy that exists on a common aesthetic arc. (In this sense Moulin Rouge! is such a great film, a fitting end to the trilogy.)

I think we could argue that all three films deal with the theatrical nature of the human condition. All three films are overtly dramatic productions and share common themes in terms of color and rhythm. They all seem to have the same goal or purpose that links them together. Even though I have never articulated this, maybe someone else can better. In some way the commonality of all three films is the lengths they go through to transport you to something that is intentionally parabolic, but at the same time intentionally entertaining. Or something like that...

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(M)Leary wrote:

: This is really really insightful stuff PTC, have you written this up yet?

No, actually. I'm afraid I don't have any deep thoughts about the whole urban-suburban-rural thing in general, and it's not a subject I have done much reading on -- I just noticed, as the films came out, how each one took place in a different milieu.

One other thing I noticed, though, was that the two CGI-ant movies of a few years back had very, very different visions of ant-hill life. In Antz, the ant-hill is basically a Big City full of anonymous strangers, whereas in A Bug's Life, the ant-hill is basically a Small Farming Town -- and what's especially interesting is that that film's main character is a technological innovator whose happy ending is realized when the entire town begins to use his harvesting machines. So, modernization is the solution in A Bug's Life, but it is the problem in Antz.

: One could then wonder if the destiny of Pixar is to go through the rural to

: the urban to the suburban...and then to land in the endless loop of

: gentrification. The continual commodification of the suburban in the first

: two motifs.

Sounds like an interesting theory! smile.gif

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Posted (edited) · Report post

What about Sergio Leone's 'Man with No Name' trilogy, I wonder. I saw the first two films last night, and I'm probably going to see the third film tonight, and I can certainly see how, from one point of view, this may be that rare trilogy where each film is better than the last. (Like I say, I have not seen the third film yet, but it does seem to be the most famous or iconic of the bunch.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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How about Ken Burns' The Civil War, Baseball, and Jazz, all of which he says he made to explore American race relations?

(But then he had to go and make Jack Johnson.)

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Hiroshi Inagaki's and Toshiro Mifune's Samurai Trilogy, based on the novel Miyamoto Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, perhaps Japan's equivalent to The Godfather Trilogy or even Gone with the Wind. The three film titles are, Miyamoto Musashi (1954) - Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) - Duel on Ganryu Island (1956). Breathtaking, even for those not into samurai films.

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Could anyone seriously argue that LOTR beats the Godfather trilogy? I mean... really?? If we're judging an American trilogy by its effect on American culture, I think anyone that's honest has to put even the Terminator trilogy ahead of LOTR. If we're judging based on the quality of the films... well, I can't think of a single trilogy that's made up of three superb films.

Still, I'm prepared to put the recent Infernal Affairs trilogy ahead of LOTR despite the fact that I haven't seen the third IA film.

Also unmentioned has been the A Better Tomorrow trilogy, though I'm not sure where this ranks in the history of cinema. (My guess is low, since only the first film is known.)

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Maybe not the greatest, but definitely worth a nod... Back to the Future Trilogy.

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