Jos Oliver

Film critic and distributor

Spain

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Acts of the Apostles

Roberto Rossellini

Histoire(s) du cinéma

Jean-Luc Godard

In a Lonely Place

1950

Nicholas Ray

Limelight

1951

Charles Chaplin

Only Angels Have Wings

1939

Howard Hawks

Pyaasa

1957

Guru Dutt

River, The

1951

Jean Renoir

Sansho Dayu

1954

Mizoguchi Kenji

Sunrise

1927

F. W. Murnau

Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse, The

1960

Fritz Lang

Comments

These are obviously – at least these ones on their own – not the best films of all times; they are probably not even the best films by their respective creators, but taken as a whole they reflect some of the fundamental aspects of classic cinema, western classic cinema above all, which counts because of its tradition built on a consolidated set of values. Three names synthesise the evolutionary arch of this cinema. The incarnation of the most universal myth of the 20th century, Chaplin, represents better than anyone else the artistic splendour of his creative plenitude, whilst Rossellini’s realist gaze contemplates history from a purely humanist perspective; and the work of Godard, admirer and tributary of both, delves in greater depth into cinema’s own self-reflection. Hawks and Ray, both utmost exponents of the auteur theory, represent two opposite poles of the cinematographic activity. The powerful, pragmatic intelligence of Hawks transforms his oeuvre into an unquestionable moral proposal, whilst the personal fragility of Ray transmits the maximum poetic intensity to his oeuvre. The films by Mizoguchi, Renoir and Lang, in their human and artistic development, represent the expressive and thematic summit of their fully realised works, whilst the truncated careers of Guru Dutt and Murnau blossom as if in almost premonitory bursts of tragic emotion. Undoubtedly, some other films such as Dreyer’s Ordet or Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, and auteurs such as Hitchcock, McCarey or Bresson, could figure in this list too.

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