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BFI greatest films


Has no one turned this into a meme yet? Then allow me… At the beginning of the month, Sight & Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute published its list of the 50 greatest films. It caused a little bit of a stir because Vertigo bumped Citizen Kane from the top spot, a position it’s held for fifty years.

Anyway, meme – you know what to do. Put it in bold if you’ve seen it, italics if you own it but have yet to watch it.

1. Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock, 1958
2. Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, 1941
3. Tokyo Story, Ozu Yasujiro, 1953
4. La Règle du jeu, Jean Renoir, 1939
5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, FW Murnau, 1927
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968
7. The Searchers, John Ford, 1956
8. Man with a Movie Camera, Dziga Vertov, 1929
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Dreyer, 1927
10. , Federico Fellini, 1963
11. Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein, 1925
12. L’Atalante, Jean Vigo, 1934
13. Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960
14. Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola, 1979
15. Late Spring, Ozu Yasujiro, 1949
16. Au hasard Balthazar, Robert Bresson, 1966
17= Seven Samurai, Kurosawa Akira, 1954
17= Persona, Ingmar Bergman, 1966
19. Mirror, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974
20. Singin’ in the Rain, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951
21= L’avventura, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960
21= Le Mépris, Jean-Luc Godard, 1963
21= The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, 1972
24= Ordet, Carl Dreyer, 1955
24= In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-Wai, 2000
26= Rashomon, Kurosawa Akira, 1950
26= Andrei Rublev, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966
28. Mulholland Dr., David Lynch, 2001
29= Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979
29= Shoah, Claude Lanzmann, 1985
31= The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola, 1974
31= Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese, 1976
33. Bicycle Thieves, Vittoria De Sica, 1948
34. The General, Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, 1926
35= Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927
35= Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock, 1960
35= Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles, Chantal Akerman, 1975
35= Sátántangó, Béla Tarr, 1994
39= The 400 Blows, François Truffaut, 1959
39= La dolce vita, Federico Fellini, 1960
41. Journey to Italy, Roberto Rossellini, 1954
42= Pather Panchali, Satyajit Ray, 1955
42= Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder, 1959
42= Gertrud, Carl Dreyer, 1964
42= Pierrot le fou, Jean-Luc Godard, 1965
42= Play Time, Jacques Tati, 1967
42= Close-Up, Abbas Kiarostami, 1990
48= The Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966
48= Histoire(s) du cinéma, Jean-Luc Godard, 1998
50= City Lights, Charlie Chaplin, 1931
50= Ugetsu monogatari, Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953
50= La Jetée, Chris Marker, 1962

I make that 36 I’ve seen out of the fifty. There are also some of my favourite directors on there too, like Tarkovsky, Hitchcock and Antonioni. There are a few I’m surprised not to see, such as Antonioni’s Red Desert; not to mention works by directors such as Kieslowski, Sirk, Lean or Herzog. I also note that only two sf films make the list – 2001: A Space Odyssey and Metropolis.

3 thoughts on “BFI greatest films

  1. What do you count La Jetée and Stalker as?

    I reckon I’ve seen maybe about a third to a half of the list. Most recent film from it I saw was The Passion of Joan of Arc which is heart breaking.

  2. Vertigo? I never really enjoyed that film, and Jimmy Stewart is out of his depth there.And omitting Lawrence of Arabia? Well as you said, it’s a matter of opinion.David Lean by the way is the first (with 7 films mentioned) in BFI’s 100 British films. I am glad though that John Ford is honored with the inclusion of The Searchers, but that only shows how opinions swing with time. It was “only a western” yesterday. I’m not sorry for Citizen Kane, for it always bored my classes–and me with it. Gosh!

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