Cable-TV Alert: TCM's The Story of Film

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If you're a film fan and you've got no plans for this holiday weekend, you might want to spend it cleaning out your DVR, because Turner Classic Movies is about to blow your mind.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the cable channel is running a 15-week series, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which promises "to tell the history of cinema through a global lens." Those documentary episodes are only 75 minutes, but alongside them, on Mondays and Tuesdays, TCM is running relevant films — an astonishing line-up of 119 films, plus shorts, from 29 countries.

A quick look at the exhaustive schedule shows many, many rare and unsual films, in addition to some familiar classics, that no discerning cinephile should miss.

Week 1 begins Mon., Sept. 2, and covers 1895-1918. It includes some of the very first films made, such as shorts from Edison, as well as influential full-length features, including four from D.W. Griffiths. Following episodes cover everything from European silents, early Asian cinema, the establishment of genre films under the studio system, the rise of world cinema after World War II, French New Wave, spaghetti Westerns, Third World cinema, the rise of "new American cinema" and "radical cinema" in the 1970s, and right up through today's concerns (digital filmmaking, post-9/11 cinema).

Some of the greatest films ever made that you may never have seen will be broadcast: The full schedule is here. I'm not sure it's humanely possible to actually watch every single film (they run into the wee hours on Mondays and Tuesdays), but if you did, you would know a LOT about cinema — and have fun learning.

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