Chris Darke

Critic

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Atalante, L'

1934

Jean Vigo

Close-Up

1989

Abbas Kiarostami

Hiroshima Mon Amour

1959

Alain Resnais

Histoire(s) du cinéma

Jean-Luc Godard

Jetée, La

1962

Chris Marker

Passenger, The

1974

Michelangelo Antonioni

Pickpocket

1959

Robert Bresson

Sherlock Jr

1924

Buster Keaton

Spirit of the Beehive, The

1973

Víctor Erice

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

“Not the easiest of tasks”, warned the letter inviting me to contribute to Sight & Sound’s greatest films poll. Which proved right, but not in the way I expected. There was my preliminary longlist of strong contenders that had to be whittled down. Should I include, say, Marker’s La Jetée and Sans soleil, thereby at least giving documentary a nod? Necessary ruthlessness prevailed, uneasily. It was just as difficult to dispense altogether with Lang, Ozu, Welles, Buñuel… the list could go on. But it was an attack of what might be called ‘canon anxiety’ that confronted me with the responsibility of choice that the task entails. This was provoked by the question of which Antonioni and Godard films to choose. The standard titles would be L’Avventura and A bout de souffle; benchmark works enshrined in previous polls and therefore already canonical. That neither of the above is my favourite film by either director wasn’t why I opted for The Passenger and Histoire(s) du cinema – the work of these two filmmakers is varied enough to include new canonical contenders. So, the rerelease of The Passenger in the last decade clinched it as regards Antonioni. As for Godard’s Histoire(s), while ostensibly about cinema’s past it is also, in its extraordinary collage of forms, very much about its future. So, a modest contribution to canon reformation, I hope.

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