Nevena Dakovic

Professor, Film Theory/Film Studies, University of Arts, Belgrade

Serbia

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Bicycle Thieves, The

1948

Vittorio de Sica

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Godfather: Part I, The

1972

Francis Ford Coppola

Imitation of Life

1959

Douglas Sirk

Ivan's Childhood

1962

Andrei Tarkovsky

Jules et Jim

1962

François Truffaut

Singin' in the Rain

1951

Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly

Tokyo Story

1953

Ozu Yasujirô

Underground

1995

Emir Kusturica

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

This list is the result of my multiple and conflicting roles: as a professor of film studies and not-so-active critic, as well as someone who is an unconditional fan of melodrama (the theme of my PhD). The list is therefore a hybrid one, patchworked from different perspectives and, all in all, a sort of elusive compromise that includes: the canonical films I am not allowed to skip; my favourite films – those that determined film studies would be my professional domain – that I would not like to skip; and the films that dominate contemporary production through various forms of intertextuality (references, citations, allusions, homage, tributes). Bicycle Thieves is neo-social realist melodrama that verges on tragedy, a document of devastated post-war Italy. Its delicate treatment of the (cinematic) space is recognised both in Bazin’s and Deleuze’s writings. Even today, stolen bicycles pass through world cinema from China to Belgium (Gamin a velo). Is it possible to make list top ten list without Citizen Kane? Daring, innovative, a turning point in many ways, it is still fascinating and fresh even after 70 years, thanks to its mise en scène, narrative structure and self-consciousness. The contrast of cultures and relativisation of the American Dream is most emotionally resonate in the first part of Coppola’s family saga The Godfather. However, the majority would rightfully choose Godfather: Part II. Imitation of Life is definitely a must see. It’s probably the best melodrama of 20th century (comparable perhaps only with Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm) and the peak of Sirkian irony. It is an inevitable point of reference in dealing with melo EDQUESTION – WHAT? and central to the dense intertextuality of the genre. Eventually, it is a metaphor for cinema itself. Ivan’s Childhood is a poignant story of the little soldiers, echoing lost childhoods from Sciuscià to 400 Blows. Its emotionalism puts the ideology under erasure, EDQUESTION – WHAT? sketching the eternal otherness of eastern Europe. Jules et Jim is Truffaut’s masterpiece. Its essential Frenchness EDQUESTION – CUT SENTENCE HERE THAT MADE NO SENSE comes through in cinematic images. The refrain of the title song of Singin’ in the Rain echoes as far as A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick), while the narrative structure and meta-dimension are mirrored in The Artist. One of the best tributes to classical Hollywood and an entertaining musical. Transcendental style and minimalistic cinema can be found in the Japanese melodrama Tokyo Story. It strikes a delicate balance to become a subtle, poetic work of offscreen space. Underground is the cinematic text of barbarogenius EDQUESTION – WHAT? A visually opulent and metaphorically multilayered summary of Balkan history, it is densely saturated with references and homages to world cinema history from Vigo to Tarkovsky, Fellini and Sasa Petrovic. Furthermore, it has been an influence on, mainly, European directors of later generations. Another title to be found on similar lists is Vertigo, the ultimate psychoanalytical work about obsession, illusion, guilt and fear. It is immortalised, also, in theoretical analysis as the narrative film offering ‘visual pleasure’.

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