Ian Christie

Film historian, Birkbeck University


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

?' Motorist, The


Robert Paul



Martin Scorsese

Diary for Timothy, A


Humphrey Jennings

Ivan the Terrible


Sergei M Eisenstein

Matter of Life and Death, A


Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

mépris, Le


Jean-Luc Godard

Rainbow Dance


Len Lye

Sun, The


Aleksandr Sokurov



F. W. Murnau

Tokyo Story


Ozu Yasujirô


I didn’t look at my last choice of ten years ago, but I think this is almost the same, apart from Sokurov and Ozu butting in. I wonder if this is influenced by having been in Japan last year. I also notice that the music of Le Mépris is quoted in Casino, which may reveal some subterranean connection. There’s a great deal wrong with this list: I’ve simply baulked at selecting from the riches of Hitchcock, despite becoming more and more interested in his work as a whole. Likewise Ford: how to chose from such a career (but I do feel it’s time to treat The Searchers as the obvious canonic Ford, and pay more attention to earlier work). And what about Lang (especially after seeing the magnificent restoration of Metropolis) and Renoir? And Bergman and Antonioni, both dying at the same moment: how could any self-respecting list of the ten greatest omit these? Animation and documentaries never stand a chance in these lists, so I persist with my somewhat English choices, although there are certainly more hard-hitting documentaries than Jennings, but none so evocatively poetic. And of course there’s more ambitious animation than Len Lye’s Post Office ad, but I love its cheeky experimentation with what were then new techniques. I realise that two of these, A Diary for Timothy and AMOLAD, are both about getting over World War II; so maybe, as a post-war baby, I’m making generational (and romantic) choices. But I did toy with Von Trier and Malick…

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