J.M. Tyree

Writer-at-large, Film Quarterly; author, BFI Film Classic on Salesman

US

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Brief Encounter

1945

David Lean

Chronicle of a Disappearance, A

1996

Elia Suleiman

Cleo from 5 to 7

1962

Agnès Varda

Lady Vanishes, The

1938

Alfred Hitchcock

Last Train Home

2009

Lixin Fan

Nanook of the North

1922

Robert J. Flaherty

Salesman

1968

Albert Maysles/David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin

Sans Soleil

1982

Chris Marker

Tokyo Story

1953

Ozu Yasujirô

Walkabout

1970

Nicolas Roeg

Comments

Starting with the 1920s, I have selected one film per decade (with the exception of the 1960s). Such a gallery must be personal, but mine does contain a theme that feels timely to me: journeys of various kinds that connect the personal and the historical, the national and the global, with an increasing lack of triumphalism. In my view, one element that makes these films so durable is, oddly, their strong attachment to their own era. In their specific manner of being dated rather than timeless, they project the feeling that, as Alain Robbe-Grillet put it in From Realism to Reality, “in truth everything is constantly changing and there is always something new.” New technologies might seem to threaten the empire of ‘film’ but many of these productions also suggest the unpredictable formats that emerge during moments of bewildering change.

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