Luke McKernan

Moving Image Curator, British Library

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

aveugle de Jérusalem, L'

1908

Louis Feuillade

Battle of the Somme, The

1916

J.B. McDowell/Geoffrey Malins

Big Swallow, The

1901

James Williamson

Free Radicals

1958

Len Lye

Lady of the Dugout, The

1918

W.S. Van Dyke

Le village de Namo - Panorama pris d'une chaise à porteurs

Gabriel Veyre

Me at the Zoo

Yakov Lapitsky

Roundhay Garden Scene

1888

Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince

Spare Time

1939

Humphrey Jennings

Topsy-Turvy

1999

Mike Leigh

Comments

I no longer know what makes a great film, nor how a film can stay great, since so many that I once revered have dulled through familiarity, while others previously spurned suddenely startle with unexpected brilliance when seen again. The films I have chosen are not so much the ‘best’, rather films that I could not imagine being done any better. Each is innovative in its own way, which may explain the bias towards early films – all the good ideas were fresh then. The earliest title in my selection is a motion picture older than film itself that ushered in a new way of seeing the world. The newest was the first title to appear on YouTube, the symbolic moment when the medium reinvented itself beyond ‘film’.

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