Gregory Hlady’s legacy encompasses more than 80 roles in feature films. He has also directed over ten plays for theatre and performed in numerous productions. He is known for his roles in high-grossing blockbusters (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 2014), patriotic Ukrainian films (he starred as Roman Shukhevych in The Undefeated, 2000), films by celebrated filmmakers (Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room, 2015) and Russian television series (he played a crime investigator on the TV show Morozov, 2007).
Listing films which have influenced his life and career, Gregory admits it was hard to make this selection and limit it to just 15 movies. “This list would go on and on forever”, he says.
Speaking of most of the films he had picked, Gregory Hlady noted that for him personally watching those films was an essential cinematic experience. He also pointed out that by picking a single film by a renowned filmmaker, he acknowledged many other works by the same master.
Ordet (1955) by Carl Theodor Dreyer
This film is about the purpose and power of a word. I was simply stunned by the story. It’s a very disciplined work based on absolute minimalism and an incredibly economical use of resources. I hope one day to turn the story the film tells, into a theatre production.
Breaking the Waves (1996) by Lars von Trier
Watching this film left me dumbstruck. I was amazed by the fact that a movie can strike such a deep chord and create such an impressive atmosphere of mystery. I was curious how Trier, who is known for his provocative approach, achieves this.
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964) by Sergei Parajanov
I am very fond of this utterly magical film. It was made in a unique, unparalleled way. Parajanov was much more than an artist: he was, really, a Renaissance man who knew the mythology inside out. He managed to break into those, often subconscious areas, which are usually incomprehensible for the mind.
Stone Cross (1968) by Leonid Osyka
What amazes me about this film is how cohesive the imagery is. The film provokes a feeling of absolute unity with the native mythology and explores the bond between Ukrainians and their native land. Stone Cross is the most nostalgic movie I’ve ever seen. It’s pure genius, just like the works of Vasyl Stefanyk.
Stalker (1979) by Andrei Tarkovsky
Every film made by Tarkovsky holds a special place in my heart. During my first years in Canada I decided to show his films to my colleagues at work. But while we were watching Tarkovsky’s films, it suddenly struck me that the feeling of thrill and delight I experienced the first time I’d seen them – had gone. At the time I had to make some effort to prove to my friends that kind of cinema was a work of genius. I realized that my wild enthusiasm about those films was not something that could be easily shared by people with a different cultural background.
Ashes and Diamonds (1958) by Andrzej Wajda
This film is the most brilliant example of what social cinema is all about. In order to make such a powerful movie, you must feel genuine hatred towards totalitarianism. It can’t be just an intellectual concept in your consciousness. You must have it in your genes. I’ve always been looking for tools to express the idea of how evil totalitarianism is. And in Ashes and Diamonds this message is genuinely conveyed.
Nobody Wanted to Die (1965) by Vytautas Žalakevičius
This film exerts an unbelievable vital power. It’s simply alive with the atmosphere of the 40s. The viewer can feel the authentic nerve of the people the film portrays. It’s a movie that breathes, even though during the 60s, i.e. at the time it was made, things were extremely ideologically biased.
Senso (1954) by Luchino Visconti
I’ve always been interested in the musical structure of the cinema: both the music we hear in the background and the musicality of imagery. You quite rarely find a film where a sequence of images resembles music. Also, I rarely hear in films the music I adore, like Gustav Mahler in Death in Venice or Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major in Senso. This film conveys the mystical brilliance of the music.
Sátántangó (1994) by Béla Tarr
I think that Béla Tarr has outshined Tarkovsky, in the sense that Tarr achieved the purest substance in cinema. His method is not an attempt to simulate life on screen, but it itself is a proof that the parallel reality exists. In Sátántangó you can really feel the power and force of the filmmaker’s soliloquy.
Once Upon a Time in America (1983) by Sergio Leone
This film is imbued with sheer musicality. Here, the music and cast create an amazing sense of unity. Moreover, the film is filled with a powerful feeling of nostalgia.
The Shining (1980) by Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick was capable of going down to the very root of evil. He achieved this in many various genres: historical, sci-fi, futuristic and, of course, horror.
Raging Bull (1980) by Martin Scorsese
Like almost every other film Scorsese has made, this one is very convincing in bringing out the unique vision of this filmmaker.
Silent Light (2007) by Carlos Reygadas
This film is somewhat superior to Tarkovsky’s works. There’s also a clear nod to Dreyer’s Ordet. To me, all these filmmakers belong to the same circle.
The Virgin Spring (1960) by Ingmar Bergman
All of Bergman’s works are very dear to my heart. I am not normally that much into historical period drama films, as it’s quite hard to fully tap into a distant era or to find the right tools to express its reality convincingly. That’s why many historical films are quite simplistic. They often lack depth. But Bergman’s The Virgin Spring is different. Every tiny detail is thought out thoroughly. It gives you a sense of absolute presence.
The Mahabharata (1989) by Peter Brook
Quite often, when you turn a theatre production into a film, it becomes simply impossible to watch. But Brook managed to create out of this transition a harmonious piece. The Mahabharata takes art to a mystical level.
“I think we are now witnessing the so called banalization of cinema. Why, you may ask? I’d say cinema has become way too accessible. The mystery of quest is gone. People today don’t know the joy of tracking down an interesting film they are eager to watch. That’s why our perception of masterpieces is somewhat blurred”, said Gregory Hlady before rounding off the conversation.