TOP TEN (Part IV)


In 1992, Sight & Sound magazine added a Directors' poll in addition to the long-established Critics' Top Ten. Surprisingly, they had little in common. It seems likely that all the selections would make the Top 50 in both categories, but only a few made both groups' Top 10. First, the Critics' poll: The Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll: 1992

Critics’ poll

  • 1. Citizen Kane (Welles)

  • 2. La Regle du Jeu (Renoir)

  • 3. Tokyo Story (Ozu)

  • 4. Vertigo (Hitchcock)

  • 5. The Searchers (Ford)

  • 6. L’Atalante (Vigo)

  • 6. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)

  • 6. Pather Panchali (Ray)

  • 6. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)

  • 10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)

Well, Singin' in the Rain dropped out, as did The Magnificent Ambersons, The General, 8 1/2, Seven Samurai, and L'avventura. Half the list was gone! But Vertigo and The Searchers saw their positions move up dramatically. Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953) vaulted into the rarefied air of the top three films of all time! For me, Ozu is one of the true greats of world cinema. His minimalist style is both subtle and resonant; his employment of understatement can be as emotionally devastating as that found in a story by Hemingway or Ray Carver. Below is a recommendation by A.O. Scott from the New York Times.

Jean Vigo's wonderful L'Atalante (1934) was restored, remastered, and rereleased in 1990 and won over a good number of voters. The wonderfully eccentric Michel Simon plays Le pere Jules, a first mate on the barge owned by Jean (Jean Daste) and his new bride Juliette (Dita Parlo), who is bored with barge life and has her eyes on the lights of Paris. L'Atalante examines the struggles of two young lovers with different temperaments and different aspirations. Michel Simon was memorable in two Renoir films, La Chienne (1931) and Boudo Saved from Drowning (1932). Below is the poster for the re-release and a brief clip including a bit of Maurice Jaubert's memorable score. Equally compelling was Boris Kaufman's cinematography, the same Kaufman who came to America and filmed such classics as Twelve Angry Men and On the Waterfront.














Once again, in 1992, two silent films made the list--Battleship Potemkin, and Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), with the iconic performance of Falconetti as the young martyr. See below:










I must confess that I have never seen Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali (1955). Don't really know how I've missed it all these years. This film, one of three that comprise the Apu trilogy, stands at the forefront of Indian cinema. I've seen a number of Ray films. I'll try to get to this one sometime soon. Finally, I must express joy at the appearance of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I remembered my conversations with Tony Macklin in 1971-72 about this film, and to see it finally validated as a Top Ten pick was more than a little gratifying. Stanley, of course, was some sort of god. I was an impressionable high school student when the film was released. No film has ever had a more profound effect on me. I saw the film seventeen (count 'em, seventeen) times in theatres. The best was a new print in an armchair cinema with quintaphonic sound. Once, I sat through it three times in a row in a most uncomfortable college auditorium. My back still aches. I couldn't understand why the critics in 1968 were largely lukewarm about it. Amazingly, virtually all the special effects look glorious even today--almost entirely without computer-generated assistance. The Blu-Ray release is stunning. Below find a clip of Stanley at the 2001 opening in 1968, an introduction to the film's highlights and themes by Terence Davies some 20 years ago.

Below find the original extended trailer. The 1992 Directors' choices next...