Sunday, 13 February 2011


Now that my series of still and trailers from film masterpieces is well under way I thought it might be a good time to have a word about the thoughts behind this new feature. One of my regular correspondents wrote and actually challenged - in a good natured way - my choices, saying they were "predictable" and "unimaginative". Well, what can I say to that except I plead guilty on both counts. The films I have picked are films that I consider the greatest achievements of the cinema, true works of art in every respect. I'm not picking films that I think are Good or even films I think are Great - I'm picking twenty-five films which are to me the creme de la creme of films. Now in answer to my friend's challenge I will say that to a film fan of my generation there will not be too many surprises in my choices. It really doesn't need me to point to these films as Masterpieces because time and the opinions of many fans, critics and film-makers have recognised them as such. I am sure that everybody's list would be different and that is fine. Nobody's evaluation of the worth of a film is the final one and everybody has the right to make their own list. But it is worth remembering that when polls of the greatest films of all time are held there is probably a very good reason why CITIZEN KANE usually comes somewhere near the top. I do not consider myself to be a critic, I am at best a reviewer, an enthusiast, a fan. I enjoy exploring all types of films from the sort of films I've picked for this list down to the modest b-movies, exploitation films. I like talking about films, I listen to what other people say and the films they think are worth seeing. One of the films on my list, Jean Vigo's L'ATALANTE, I only saw for the first time about two weeks ago - a film director friend sat me down and showed it to me - I will forever be grateful as I would probably never have gotten around to it on my own. Likewise a review of the Russian film THE CRANES ARE FLYING on the excellent website FILMS DESERVING OF GREATER RECOGNITION has made me eager to see that film because of the enthusiasm of the person writing about it. I know there are people out there who only really care about the latest blockbuster that Hollywood throws at them and that is fine - they probably have no interest in exploring the classics of the past. That is up to them - but for me I want to enjoy both.

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I don't think any list of film "masterpieces" can be much of a surprise. As you say, you're not doing "great" films but instead "masterpieces" which are far thinner on the ground. "Masterpieces" so-called are generally agreed upon by almost everyone so the interesting part of your list is not which films you think are masterpieces but instead which masterpieces you choose to make your list of 25. Frankly, anyone who comes up with a list of film "masterpieces" that are surprising and "unthought-of" is probably a list which is a little suspect; the film probably isn't actual masterpiece but is chosen for the list for other reasons i.e. to bring more attention to a really great film. But it's probably not an actual "masterpiece" in the terms you've set out for your list. After all, Michelangelo's Pieta is a masterpiece; am I unimaginative for pointing that out. I think the real value of your "masterpiece" list is for those who may be reading your blog who haven't seen as many films as you and may not have seen all the "masterpieces" you listed -- I for one haven't seen a couple of them -- and will henceforth seek them out. We can't all have seen everything under the sun. . . and it's here I think your list is actually quite a valuable thing.