Editorial – The Greatest
We’re just a few days away from the big reveal of this decades Sight & Sound poll. The one deemed worthier than most and as the definitive measure of the current cinematic climate. The next two weeks worth of editorials will be dedicated to this rather exciting event.
While the eyes of the world looked towards London on Friday evening, this week the world’s collected cinephiles will turn their eyes to another fine London institution the British Film Institute, and the decennially-produced list produced by their journal, Sight & Sound. Such is the definitive nature of those polled by Sight & Sound that their poll has come to be recognised by most as the most authoritative, and, as Roger Ebert put it “the only one most serious movie people take seriously” (I). The Sight & Sound poll, alongside André Bazin, was amongst the first wave to re-evaluate Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, leading to its placing at number 1 in their 1952 poll, a position in which it has remained ever since (although one expects it to be displaced by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo this time around, given the current climate). Waves and trends have seen the likes of Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana Story and Eisenstein’s Ivan The Terrible pop up over the years, but more often than not an old guard consisting of the Welles movie, Jean Renoir’s The Rules Of The Game and Fellini’s 8½ holding up the front end.
While the top spot itself might seriously be up for the taking by a non-Welles film this time around it’s another area of the list that introgues perhaps the most. Will there be any new movies that make the cut? While both David Thomson and Philip have mooted that Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood might be the ideal candidate for inclusion, some have predicted the achingly recent Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life as appropriate (the aforementioned Ebert included it in his own submission to the poll), while there has long been talk of the more left-field likes of Edward Yang’s Yi Yi or even an Apichatpong Weerasethakul flick making the cut. And what of those national cinemas which have seen a mammoth rise over the last few years? What of Iran, or Portugal? If any of these countries or filmmakers has made enough of a collated impression remains to be seen, but we look forward to finding out. The list will be revealed on Thursday, August 2nd, stay tuned to the site and our Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute information and commentary.
The politics of “Greatest” versus favourite are long and varied. Here’s my own top ten greatest list, feel free to put your own in the comments section below.
Note the lack of anything not French or American. Terrible, isn’t it? Putting together such a list is no mean feat (you don’t know how painful it was for me to have to omit King Vidor’s The Crowd, or make no mention of anything by Powell & Pressburger or John Ford).
Elsewhere in this weeks instalment of Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second, and on a similar London note we’ll be continuing our HitchLies24 project with the directors The Lodger and Frenzy. The two represent the beginning and the end of the career of Hitchcock, with the latter’s inclusion tying in with the release of a formidable new book on the production of the work (II) and the former coming under scrutiny in the wake of it’s recent reevaluation thanks to last weeks screenings of the beautiful new restoration (III).
Adam Batty – Editor-In-Chief
[Apologies for the quiet week, I've had a few days holiday]Further reading - (I) The Best Damned Film List Of Them All – Roger Ebert (II) Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy: The Last Masterpiece (III) The Lodger Restored Sight & Sound Top Ten Archive Also… My entry for last weeks IndieWire Critics Survey on the film screening that meant the most.