Film Challenge 2013: some early thoughts

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Readers of this blog will know that I’ve pledged to watch all the films on the BFI’s 50 Greatest Films Ever list.

My wife suggested that I start with the films that are also on other greatest films lists and work my way down (or outwards depending on how you look at these things. Is appearing on more than one list – ie in more than one demographic sample – a good or a bad thing? Personally I would tend towards the ones that appear on only one list.). I randomly chose to have a look at Total Film’s equivalent list (it wasn’t random, it’s just that I knew they had a list) and it makes interesting reading.

For some reason they don’t appear to have published it on the web but enough people have (here, here and here) that I trust it’s a true representation of something they wrote somewhere at some point. I have no idea how the list was put together but in the absence of any proper research let’s assume it was a reader vote. The BFI one was a selection made by “846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors” (note: no film-makers were involved in the making of this list)

Total Film’s top 5:

  1. Goodfellas 1990 *
  2. Vertigo 1958 *
  3. Jaws 1975 *
  4. Fight Club 1999 *
  5. Godfather: Part II, The 1974 *

The BFI’s top 5:

  1. Vertigo *
  2. Citizen Kane *
  3. Tokyo Story
  4. La Règle du jeu
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans *

(* marks the ones I’ve seen. I know, it’s a shocking admission that I haven’t seen either Tokyo Story or La Règle du jeu but there’s no point doing this and being anything less than honest.)

My two thoughts so far:

I don’t believe there are only 3 films better than Fight Club (and Goodfellas wouldn’t be one of them). I would have hazarded a guess at around 300.

I don’t believe there are only two films better than Jaws etc.

Footnote: There’s a very useful compilation of links to the “Best Ever Films” lists on the Pendragon website including Cahiers du cinéma’s 100 Greatest Films among them (Cahiers, being French is the coolest of all the lists). The image is from FW Murnau’s Sunrise. You can watch it on YouTube here.

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