Oliver Schmitz

Mapantsula; Life, Above All

South Africa

Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968

Stanley Kubrick

Apocalypse Now

1979

Francis Ford Coppola

Breathless

1960

Jean-Luc Godard

Dancer in the Dark

2000

Lars von Trier

Funny Games

1997

Michael Haneke

Kagemusha

1980

Akira Kurosawa

Lawrence of Arabia

1962

David Lean

Pulp Fiction

1994

Quentin Tarantino

Taxi Driver

1976

Martin Scorsese

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

Vertigo: Seemingly effortlessly, Hitchcock paints his canvas. A movie that I saw only in my 20s, got under my skin and stayed there. The film is as layered as it gets and the use of colour is brilliant.

2001: A Space Odyssey: I have seen this film more than any other. Kubrick took paperback science fiction and turned it into a paleontological opera, man in the cave, man playing God when creating HAL and staring at his own image in its reflection. The movie for me has survived 1970s esotericism and is simply sublime.

Lawrence of Arabia: David Lean and JG Ballard raise issues of empire, colonialism and the individual on a platform of cinematic reflection. The screenplay by Bolt is brilliant. The characters, O’Toole… The epic nature of this film has for me never been topped.

Apocalypse Now: For me, it’s the ‘Redux’ version that is the one. It stands up there with other great war/anti-war films like Paths of Glory but its cinematic ambition and achievement make it one of a kind.

Kagemusha: It’s hard to choose a best Kurasawa film but Kagemusha translates by its sheer operatic virtuouso into any language and culture.

Taxi Driver: Scorsese brought the rough aggression of film noir back into American and film culture with Taxi Driver – brooding, oppressive and violent in a way that opened new visual frontiers.

Pulp Fiction: Tarantino carried on the great tradition of American pop culture commenting on and feeding on itself, opening again the eyes of cinema-goers that were drowsing off from boredom.

Dancer in the Dark: Relentless, claustrophobic, the best movie about capital punishment as far as I’m concerned. Von Triers tortures the viewer with the impending death of his protagonist in an extremely harrowing way.

Breathless: To my mind, Godard’s best and a film that changed everything, freed actors, scripts, the camera but held it together with romance and nostalgia.

Funny Games: European cinema is often a small thing that does not rise above the everyday. Von Trier does, Haneke does. Funny Games scrapes and scratches at the thin veneer of society and scares us out of our comfort zone. The best film he ever made.

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