15 Most Visually Astonishing Films Of All Time

The Fountain It's hard to overstate just how important visuals are to the quality of a film. The aesthetic of a film has to be thought out just as much as the screenplay as it is essential in setting the desired mood, just as in genres such as film noir, where the black and white visuals and use of shadows help establish the tone for the entire film. When taken to the next level, visuals can be more effective in telling a story than actual dialogue would be. Take Pixar's Up as an example, and the incredible wordless montage at the beginning of the film - try to imagine how it would have worked if the filmmakers had emphasized dialogue over visual storytelling. The result is hardly as inspiring as that utterly devastating sequence. The standards for this list included how well the individual films manipulated both natural scenery as well as special effects, how well a film incorporated set design, and the overall visual composition of the film. One caveat is that a director could only have one entry in order to prevent certain filmmakers from monopolizing the list. Crucially, the rankings didn't take into account how good the rest of the film as a whole was, although every movie on here is excellent, only the visuals and how they added to the movie were considered.

15. Apocalypse Now

Kurtz Owner of one of the most troubled productions in film history, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, an adaption of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, has since become one of the most well regarded war films of all time, conveying the sense of purposelessness felt by many over the Vietnam War. Apocalypse Now deals with a U.S Army special operations officer who is dispatched to the heart of the Vietnam Jungle in order to hunt down renegade Colonel Kurtz. The film establishes itself as a visual marvel early on with a haunting opening montage of helicopters napalming a jungle while The Doors song The End plays in the background. The big highlight of the movie is a battle scene later in the movie where a group of helicopters attack a Viet Cong held village, which again is a visually stunning set-piece that few war movies can even aspire to recapture. In addition to its large scale scenes, Apocalypse Now is loaded with more subtle visuals that make a similarly huge impact on the film. Colors are heavily saturated, fog is prevalent, characters are frequently covered in shadows, and it all comes together to make one of the most affecting movies ever made.
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