Light in August

From Criterion’s no-frills Eclipse label comes “Jean Grémillon During the Occupation,” a collection of three of the most celebrated films by one of the most difficult and stylistically diverse directors of the French cinema. “Remorques,” begun before the German invasion but completed after it, subscribes to many of the tenets of French poetic realism with its elegantly doom-laden tale of a salvage captain (Jean Gabin) and his married lover (Michele Morgan); “Lumière d’Été” (1943) seems at first a sort of “La Règle du jeu” set in the white mountains of Provence but evolves into a densely metaphorical, musically structured symphony of signs and meanings; while “Le ciel est à vous” (1944) turns a haute Vichy fable of “work, family, fatherland” into a love story of Borzagian intensity overlaid with trenchant observations about the limits of personal and political freedom. There is, of course, much more of Grémillon’s work to be discovered — for starters, the eternally astonishing “Daïnah la métisse” (1931) — but the Eclipse set makes a superb introduction to a brilliant filmmaker who has yet to find his deserved place in the Pantheon. My New York Times review is here.

124 comments to Light in August

  • Alex Hicks

    What a wonderful piece of film history, criticism and “heads up” we have here!

    On the trove whence the revealed treasures come:
    Two excellent French releases of the Vichy era that I’ve seen but imagine to be about as hard to see as today’s Grémillon trio are M. Tournier’ « Volpone,» and L’Herbier’s « La Nuit fantastique. » A good one is Clouzot’s “The Murderer Lives at Number 21.”

    Anyone have anything to say about the availability (or merits) of the following films, which I’ve never caught? Jean Delannoy’s « L’Éternel Retour » Bresson’s « Les Anges du Peche, » not to speak of Tournier elusive « La main du diable » ?

  • Barry Lane

    Dave,

    My late and beautiful French wife was a child during the period of occupation. Normally, I would not make this purchase but the sensitivity of your comments and my own reality have created a need that should be fulfilled by this time next week. Thanks.

  • Rich Deming

    Dave,

    Thanks for the NYT Review – which I read with great interest when it arrived.

    After a short blurb about Lumiere D’ete this spring in the NYTimes, I watched it at Lincoln Center. I figured that this gem was just something that I had missed along the way, but upon going home and searching IMDB I could see that this has been a hidden gem for far too many for far too long.

    I don’t want to ruin Lumiere D’ete for anyone, but I really loved the story, humor and drama and enjoyed the rather rich and interesting symbolism. True, there are a couple of odd moments that a larger budget for the film would undoubtedly improve, but overall quite the film gem leaving me to wonder why this film is not more popular and more highly regarded.

  • nicolas saada

    The fact that these films are now avalaible in the Us but NOT in France gives you a fairly good idae of a certain state of the carelessness towards filmhistory here. Blame it on somewho own these films but do notreally know how to handle them in the “market”. Meanwhile Criterion is doing the job. Hopefully REMORQUES is available here. But the other two not. Dave, Dainah La Metisse is indeed beautiful : Tourneur meets Cocteau on a boat. With some Duke Ellington on the soundtrack (who wrote that CAT PEOPLE wasone of his favorite films)

  • Alex

    nicolas saada,

    If you can access hulu.com in France –and why not?– you can stream all three of the Grémillon film currently highlighted by Dave K.

  • A superb piece on Jean Grémillon by Dave. I had the pleasure to revisit some of Grémillon’s films a month ago in Bologna, including REMORQUES, which this time struck me with its affinity with UGETSU MONOGATARI and VERTIGO (the lure of the woman who may be a spirit of the sea). I haven’t seen all of Grémillons films but I admire him for his documentaries (CHARTRES, LE SIX JUIN A L’AUBE), his visual excellence in the late high point of the silent era (GARDIENS DE PHARE) and his psychological insight in the sound period (including GUEULE D’AMOUR with one of Jean Gabin’s finest performances).

  • dan

    A beautiful article, Dave. So happy Criterion released this set of amazing films. I wonder if his earlier, wilder and more mysterious, string of works will be next in line – LA PETITE LISE, MALDONE and the aforementioned DAINAH LA METISSE.

    It seems to be suggested by many that his last films were disappointments, but i recently rewatched the PATTES BLANCHES and THE LOVE OF A WOMAN and found them incredibly moving. Were they also part of the recent Gremillon tribute in Bolongna?

  • jbryant

    Would love to see these, as well as Gueule d’Amour. I have seen no Gremillon films.

    Unfortunate typo in the caption for the pic of Vanel and Renaud — “Charles Venal.” It wasn’t even corrected in the correction. :)

  • Tony Williams

    Great review, Dave. I have REMORQUES but not the other two that I’ve ordered for our library. Nicolas’s 12:34 comments also parallel what a Hawaii Institute for Vietnamese films tells me about the current state of film history there. Many working in archives have never seen films such as WHEN THE TEN MONTH COMES, KARmA, and THE ABANDONED FIELD that have been seen here. So, the problem is global and not another facet of “Blame the French.”

  • Michael Dempsey

    Alex Hicks:

    “Les Anges du Peche” was released in France by Gallimard/Synops. I got it two or three years ago from a French website whose name I no longer have. The box includes a single DVD containing the film (the available subtitles are in English, Spanish, German, and Italian) along with an interview with Robert Bresson and testimony from the film’s lead actresses Renee Faure and Jany Holt (these supplements aren’t subtitled, as I recall).

    Also included is a French language paperback of the film’s screenplay by Jean Giraudoux. The cover reads “Bethanie” [the film's original title] “d’apres le scenario original de Robert Bresson” and (in smaller print) “Conseiller religieux R.-L. Bruckberger” (a Catholic priest who was a consultant on the project).

    As for quality, “Les Anges du Peche” — about a murderess (Holt) who hides from the law by assuming the identity of a postulant in a convent and then falls into an intense, frequently hostile relationship with a saintly nun (Faure) — has been slighted as melodramatic, at times glamorized (a protracted death scene) and thus, by what we think of as normal Bresson standards, not a truly “rigorous” picture.

    There is some truth to this, but so what? In my view, speaking as one who was heavily involved with Roman Catholicism during the first two-plus decades of my life, “Les Anges du Peche” is a penetrating and moving examination of the traps within the sanctity demanded by religious orders. Which means that it is firmly linked to the director’s lifelong concerns and, for this and other reasons, as much a must-see as any and all of Bresson’s other works.

    Memories of a long-ago theatrical screening of “Le Ciel Est A Vous” indicate that, though details are a blur at this distance, the film was a heady and elating experience. It’s good to have it (along with its companions) back on the radar for more screenings.

  • jbryant

    Michael: Yeah, I’m not even Catholic and I thought LES ANGES DU PECHE was great. As you suggest, it’s more “accessible” than the average Bresson, which may have led to it being underrated. I saw it on a double bill with LES DAMES DU BOIS DE BOULOGNE a few years ago at LACMA.

  • Dan (July 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm), I saw PATTES BLANCHES in Bologna: a strange and dark movie with Jean Anouilh as co-screenwriter.

  • dan

    Antti, its definitley strange and dark, a bit in the spirit of his early works, but also extremely sad and weirdly moving, don’t you think?

  • There was recently a good feature on Gremillon and 30s French cinema in Cahiers (Dec. ’11), where the editor Delorme describes Gremillon as being “le meilleur” and “maudit”. The piece on Gremillon accompanied a Gremillon retro at the French Cinematheque (“aux trois quarts vide”) and a book of Gremillon’s published writing, “Le Cinema? Plus qu’un art!”.

    I like the term “la grand large,” as watching Remorques I was especially impressed with it’s painterly landscapes, where the water scenes reminded me of Ford, and the beach scenes to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. These 40s French Boat Movies with their small figures facing the natural elements in grim social settings, seems to be the closest thing the French had to Westerns.

  • Alex Hicks

    Re Dave K’s fascinating amd pregnant reference to “haute Vichy fable of “work, family, fatherland,” I suggest a looks at Robert Gildea’s “How to Understand the Dreyfus Affair” in a JUNE 10, 2010 number of the NYRB as a very rich take on French conservatism in the first half of the Twentieth century. (Just Google “Dreyfus new york review of books” for a surprise perspective on Vichy.)

  • The BBC news is announcing — in UK primetime, no less — that Vertigo has finally toppled Citizen Kane in the Sight and Sound decennial poll.

  • Jim Gerow

    Wow! Sight & Sound’s website is overloaded at the moment and I can’t get in, but from other sources the top ten list is Vertigo, Citizen Kane, Tokyo Story, The Rules of the Game, Sunrise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Searchers, Man With a Movie Camera (first time in the top 10), The Passion of Joan of Arc, and 8 1/2. One blog commenter noted that Vertigo has some very apt pupils.

  • The Sight & Sound Top Ten 2012

    The Critics’ Top Ten Greatest Films:
    1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
    2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
    3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
    4. La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939)
    5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)
    6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
    7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
    8. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
    9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
    10. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

    The Directors’ Top Ten Greatest Films:
    1. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
    =2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
    =2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
    4. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)
    5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)
    6. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
    =7. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
    =7. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
    9. Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)
    10. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)

  • David Cohen

    Taxi Driver, as opposed to Raging Bull? Would anyone have expected that?

  • Puya Yazdi

    Wow best sight and sound poll in a while. Vertigo new number 1 and Historie du Cinema is in the top 50!!! That makes me very happy. Only complaint is that Chaplin isnt higher.

  • Alex

    Pretty good, but I’ll take the realist results of 1952 and the art film ones of 1962-72.

    At last, Scorcese/Schrader’s TAXI DRIVER over Michael Chapman’s RAGING BULL!

    But how long before REAR WINDOW surplants VERTIGO?

    And where’s Grémillon?

  • Alex

    VERTIGO question.

    How does recent suicide feigner Madeleine get home from Scottie’s after she slips away from his place while he’s on the phone?

  • Oliver_C

    Another ‘Vertigo’ question:

    Would it still be #1, or indeed anywhere on the list, if the studio hadn’t forced Hitchcock to back down from his eleventh-hour decision to remove Kim Novak’s pivotal flashback?

  • A couple of comments on the S&S list.

    1) Commentators have expressed surprise that there are silent films — three of ‘em! — on the top ten list. I think this is a function of DVD availability; can’t speak for Britain (where I assume many of the voters hail) but there are two DVDs available in the US, both with celebrity score/orchestras (Nyman and Alloy), of MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, plus a very beautiful Criterion (albeit projected too fast) of PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (also with a beautiful score). I think those discs have a lot to do with those films placing so high. And would SUNRISE have done so very well without a disc available?

    2) Conversely, someone commented that KANE and MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS both ranked very high in early S&S lists, but that the latter is almost forgotten. Again, I would point to DVD (un)availability, here in the US, at least until very recently. And the recent DVD release of AMBERSONS attracted little attention. The same, even more emphatically, applies to GREED. If a gorgeous Criterion had existed of GREED for the past decade, then it too could be residing in the upper brackets. (Note: Somebody goofed: there were Criterion lasers of both AMBERSONS and GREED.)

  • Barry Putterman

    Which once again proves what our studios have always known Gregg; you’ve gotta send out those mailers if you want to win the awards.

    By the way, who was in the room to hear Charles Foster Kane say “rosebud” when he died? For the answer to this and other superfluous questions….

  • Tony Williams

    DVD availability is very important since many of these classics are not shown on broadcast stations on which many of us got to see them for the first times or even that vanishing breed of art cinemas now concerned about revenue. Such a format allows the option of democratic choice not the theatrical product studios want us to see. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS needs a better DVD release with the audio-commentary and features that were available on the laser disk version.

    I don’t know if any of you have heard this rumor but a manager of DVD company ASIAN CULT CINEMA has recently sent a circular stating that DVD and Blu-Ray will be phased out by 2015 like VHS in favor of direct streaming to computers and monitors by companies who want viewers to see only the product they select with no alternatives.

  • jbryant

    I’ve seen at least one assertion that the number of silents in the top ten is partially due to the success of THE ARTIST. I would place its influence somewhere between zero and 0.5 percent.

    While I would never get upset at the results of such polls, I’ve always thought CITIZEN KANE was the perfect consensus poll-topper because it contains multitudes. It’s innovative, influential and stunningly well made, with a rich story and a pace that’s friendly to younger viewers. I’m thinking VERTIGO will prove to be much more divisive. Get ready for lots of “But it’s just so slooooooooow” type remarks. On the plus side, we should get a number of strong defenses for it, too.

  • Barry Putterman

    Yes jbryant, but VERTIGO is in COLOR!!

    I agree about CITIZEN KANE being the perfect chart topper. It is the answer I always give when somebody asks that most dreaded question; “what is your favorite movie?” Who is going to give you an argument on that one? Sort of like saying that your favorite rock group is the Beatles.

    I hadn’t heard about the circular to which Tony refers, but that time frame sounds about right to me. The up side is that I still have a few years to figure out how to do what tech saavy folks are already doing. AND, once I have figured it out and learned to live with it, a lot more shelf space gets freed up in the apartment.

  • Marilyn Moss

    Alex,
    Madeleine flags down a taxi after running out on Scottie, easy to do in ’50s San Francisco. Or she walks home (don’t forget, she doesn’t live on Nob Hill). Best answer: it doesn’t really matter much.

  • Peter Henne

    Alex, I always figured it was a testament to Madeleine’s allure and the implied civility of San Francisco that she would find a way home. Take some bills from Scottie’s proverbial bedside table, where every gentleman leaves his cash at home, slink out and hail a cab. Or, without cabfare in hand, play the lady-in-distress card on the roadside and a conscientious citizen will whisk this high-born-looking woman home.

    Here’s a picture of Scottie’s bedroom for reference:

    http://thinkinpictures.visualsociety.com/files/2008/04/vertigo_3.jpg

    Barry, Superfluous as in unimportant? In that case, I hope you’re kidding. It is the handling of jumps in logic like this that divides a great film’s poetry from a meager effort’s incompetence.

  • Marilyn Moss

    Yes, better still that M/J would take cash from Scottie’s bedside table. As a single gentleman in ’50s S.F. Scottie probably would have many deliveries made to his front door (restaurants, drug stores, liquor stores and the like) and would need change and a few bills lying around for tips. Cannot take the Judy out of the Madeleine!

  • Barry Putterman

    Peter, so who IS in fact in Charles Foster Kane’s room to hear his dying word?

  • Barry Putterman

    Hint, somebody does in fact claim to have heard Kane’s last word as he spoke it, but it can’t be visually verified.

  • Alex

    “Peter, so who IS in fact in Charles Foster Kane’s room to hear his dying word?”

    Welles’ dying words like that last closeup of the burning sled are beyond the film’s otherwise pretty rigorous use of character point of view: either some omniscient viewer, or simply (to court post-modernism) Welles, Toland and cinematography crew.

    “Madeleine flags down a taxi after running out on Scottie, easy to do in ’50s San Francisco. Or she walks home (don’t forget, she doesn’t live on Nob Hill). Best answer: it doesn’t really matter much.”

    Yeah, it doesn’t really matter much, but then there’s the absurdity of the film’s creaky background plot mechanics, a focus of VERTIGO’S early bad reviews (Crowther, Kael, and lots of everyday ’58 film viewers like my Hitchcock loving father). most central and encompassing is Elster’s absurdly elaborate and risky scheme for offing his wife and scapegoating Scottie, a mainstay of VERTIGO’S early bad reviews (Crowther, Kael, and lots of everyday ’58 film viewers), For me these are still blemish enough on me Hitchcock’s most emotionally engaging portrayal of obsession to make me rather prefer the flawless REAR WINDOW (if not the wonderfull well grounded SHADOW OF A DOUBT or the supremely clever friviolity of NxNW).

  • Yann Heckmann

    No films from the last 30 years in the top ten? And even in the top 50 they are few and far between and the choices are pretty left field. There seems to be a huge disconnect here – or maybe it just takes a couple of decades until people are able or willing to acknowledge greatness?

  • Puya Yazdi

    I love Kane but prefer Vertigo. I also think that Vertigo at number 1 is the final victory of cahiers du cinema. Kane has perhaps the greatest script in film history. Even an average director could have made a great film just by leaving a stationary camera and capturing the acting, the dialog, story and character structure. Vertigo is pure cinema. Cinephilia is making a comeback. Also, Godard having 4 pictures in the top 50 was another wonderful surprise.

  • Peter Henne

    Exactly. It’s conceivable it could be the nurse, too, though she’s seen rushing in as though after the fact. The dreamlike imagery here makes mapping out a strict timeline daunting. But, after seeing CITIZEN KANE, what is a rigorous sequence of events, anyway? Maybe the film makes spatial continuity, linear time and causation look a little too highly-touted. KANE is one of those films hallowed for asking about the nature of the world. One of my favorite capsules for this line of questioning comes from Myrtle Gordon in Cassavetes’ OPENING NIGHT, “I seem to have lost the reality of reality.”

    This passage from the first edition of Robert L. Carringer’s “The Making of Citizen Kane,” pp. 98-99, under a still of the process shot of the nurse entering the room, might be relevant:

    “Xanadu is a compositional contradiction. On the one hand, there is a strongly unified sense overall-it is literally an image of a monument and literally a monumental image. On the other hand, the individual elements not only fail to cohere, but they are radically incompatible. In short, Xanadu is what the film says its protagonist is-distant, remote, inaccessible, a romantic image of a unified whole, but at the same time possibly no more than an empty parade of stylistic fluorishes and gestures. The theme of a physical structure that reflects its principal inhabitant is common in literature and films as well as in architecture, and there is enough of it in the film that we know it was constantly on Welles’s mind.”

  • Johan Andreasson

    RAYMOND (the Butler):
    See what I mean? He was a little gone in the head – the last couple of years, anyway – but I knew how to handle him.
    (rises)
    That “Rosebud” – that don’t mean anything. I heard him say it. He just said “Rosebud” and then dropped that glass ball and it broke on the floor. He didn’t say anything about that, so I knew he was dead – He said all kind of things I couldn’t make out. But I knew how to take care of him.

  • Barry Putterman

    Peter, so jumps in logic dividing poetry from incompetence only applies in certain cases?

    Alex, the difference between Kane’s last word and the revelation of what it actually represents is a question of total opposites. Every character in the film is supposed to know what the former is and none of the charcters are supposed to find out what the latter is.

    But come now. At the end of Raymond the butler’s story of Kane’s destroying Susan’s room and stopping short when he comes to the glass ball (at which point he says “Rosebud,” we go back to Thompson and Raymond in the present. Thompson says something like “Is that all you know about Rosebud?” And Raymond replies something like “Yeah. Except for that other time. He just said ‘Rosebud’ and dropped the glass ball. That’s when I knew he was dead.” So, supposedly, Raymond was in the room with Kane. But we never see him there.

    So, no songs or dances are necessary. No alternate realities need be proposed. It’s in that great script that Puya speaks of. The one that anybody could have made a great film from.

  • Barry Putterman

    Aha! Johan!! I KNEW I could count on you!

  • Peter Henne

    I had considered extending the quote from Carringer anyway, so this portion might prompt re-thinking that the script is what makes a KANE great film:

    “If shooting a film was like playing with a giant toy train set, as Welles once maintained, special effects must have seemed to him a veritable magician’s bag of tricks. One informed estimate is that more than 50 per cent of the film’s total footage involves special effects of one kind or another [reference cited]. [Linwood] Dunn [who operated the optical printer] says that in some reels the percentage of optically printed work is as high as 80 per cent. So much of this is so artfully done, however, that even the most sophisticated viewer can miss it. A cliche of film criticism since Andre Bazin is that ‘Citizen Kane’ is a, if not the, supreme example of photographic realism. It seems to me more to the point to recognize the film for the masterpiece of subtle illusionism that it is. In a sense, it is a kind of ultimate realization of Welles’s magic act.”

  • Brian Dauth

    1. I will go for VERTIGO over CITIZEN KANE (though I would take MARNIE over both). VERTIGO is for me the more capacious work of art which can be approached in multiple ways. The KANE I watch today gives the same pleasure I received when I first watched it as a teenager (thank you Million Dollar Movie). VERTIGO seems to become more complex and profound as I grow and mature, and my engagements with it are more complicated, even contentious. I always admire KANE, but have never argued with it.

    2. I remember Andrew Sarris commenting when VERTIGO resurfaced that he now realized that Elster — even knowing what had happened to Scottie — could not be assured that Scottie would not be able to climb the stairs of the bell tower.

    3, Judy writing the letter is for me one of the five greatest sequences in all of film — I can never tire of it.

    4. “Cannot take the Judy out of the Madeleine!” — my new motto!!

    5. I think it does take years/decades of watching a film and living with it before a person can tell if it should be on a list. Exceptions might be the late films of a filmmaker whose work a person has watched/engaged for a long time.

  • Yann, so which films of the past thirty years would be on YOUR list?

    Bearing in mind Brian’s wise dictum, “I think it does take years/decades of watching a film and living with it before a person can tell if it should be on a list.” So even if I wanted to, alas, no recent Nolans or Finchers.

    I’m pretty pleased with most films on the top 50. But if you swapped the numbers 11-20, 21-30, 31-40 or 41-50 with the top ten I’d be just as happy. Indeed, I’ll go with whatever tranche had THE GENERAL.

  • Peter Henne

    “which films of the past thirty years would be on YOUR list?”

    Ah, heck, I’ll take a stab at this.

    NOSTALGHIA and THE DEATH OF EMPEDOCLES have held on my own for over a decade. I’d say they’re both hard to rival for pristine beauty in color. UP/DOWN/FRAGILE, THE GREEN RAY, THE DAY OF DESPAIR, NOUVELLE VAGUE, LOVE STREAMS, and A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY would be serious contenders too.

  • “Even an average director could have made a great film just by leaving a stationary camera and capturing the acting, the dialog, story and character structure.” So what you’re saying is that the quality of the acting was in the script? Not even Pauline Kael would go that far.

    About the top 50 list: although each individual list might be very diverse and fascinating, the final top 50 is, to me, boringly conventional, the mainstream of “art cinema”. Nothing by Michael Powell, Mikio Naruse, Vincente Minnelli, Joseph H. Lewis, Sam Fuller, nothing from Africa, nothing from Australia, nothing from China. But four films by Godard? Please. Where’s Rivette and Rohmer?

    Since this is the sum total of many lists it’s sort of the lowest common denominator at work here. The films that end up in the final list do that partly because they have been seen by the largest number of people. “Everybody” has seen VERTIGO and CITIZEN KANE so they’re bound to get more votes. But how many have seen HUMANITY AND PAPER BALLOONS?

    A reason why few recent films ended up here might be that there are too many of them. Each person making a list might have listed two recent films, but each person listed two different films, so even though potentially hundreds of recent films were listed, neither gathered enough votes for it to matter.

  • Junko Yasutani

    What is purpose of list? Because to make more people interested to see those movies? Then NINJO KAMI FUSEN should be on list as Fredrik has written.

    Saying that, many good movies on list, so someone could select from list and see good movie.

  • Barry Putterman

    Oh yes, Junko. “What is purpose of list?” Would that more people would ask that and insist that others answer it.

  • Brian Dauth

    I will be interested to get a granular look at the list and see how votes were distributed by director and time period. For instance: maybe 8 1/2 got more votes that any film by Keaton, but Keaton got more votes that Fellini.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Mizoguchi has taken a big fall from grace. Sansho the Bailiff was once in the top 10, not longer in the top 52; Chikamatsu was top 20 last time, with as I recall both Ugetsu and Sansho getting lots of votes. Now Ugetsu is the best, tied for 50th,

  • I agree with Fredrik Gustafsson (August 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm). The individual lists of the critics and the directors will be interesting to study when they are published during the month. The newest film on the top ten is from 1968, and the spread of films made during the last 44 years will be the greatest. There seems to be greater consensus about the top silent films, three of which made it into the list; the silent era lasted less than 40 years; the reign of the silent feature film less than 20 years.

    Suggestions after 1968: A TOUCH OF ZEN, THE COLOUR OF POMEGRANATES, MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S (1969), DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE FOREST, THE CONFORMIST, THERE WAS A SINGING BLACKBIRD, THE RED CIRCLE (1970), THE CEREMONY, SZINDBAD, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, W.R.: MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM (1971), EIGHT DEADLY SHOTS, THE GODFATHER, HAPPY GO LUCKY (1972), AMARCORD, ILLUMINATION, SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE (1973), CELINE AND JULIE VONT EN BATEAU, CHINATOWN, THE GODFATHER PART II (1974), JEANNE DIELMAN, NASHVILLE, MIRROR (1975), KINGS OF THE ROAD, JONAH WHO WILL BE 25 IN THE YEAR 2000, THE ASCENT, TAXI DRIVER (1976), ANNIE HALL, HITLER: A FILM FROM GERMANY, PROVIDENCE (1977), BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (1980), SANS SOLEIL (1982), SHOAH (1985), SHADOWS IN PARADISE (1986), HOTEL TERMINUS, WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOME?, THE DECALOGUE, YEELEN (1987), WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO (1988), TWIN PEAKS SPECIAL PILOT (1989), EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), BATMAN RETURNS, MALCOLM X, THE STORY OF QIU JU (1992), SHORT CUTS (1993), PULP FICTION (1994), TOY STORY (1995), SECRETS & LIES (1996), HISTOIRES DU CINÉMA (1989-1998), REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000), MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001), A SEPARATION (2011)… it gets more difficult the newer the films are because there are so many to select from.

    When my cinephilia started in the late 1960s and the early 1970s there was already a trend of minimalism, long takes and long shots in films by Jancsó, Snow, Akerman, Warhol, Angelopoulos, Tarkovsky and many experimental film-makers. Recently many of the best serious film-makers have favoured their versions of starkly reduced aesthetics. It takes time to decide which ones are “the best”, and even the question seems irrelevant.