Ann Turner

Hammers Over the Anvil; Celia

Australia

Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for

Bicycle Thieves, The

1948

Vittorio de Sica

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Conformist, The

1970

Bernardo Bertolucci

Don't Look Now

1973

Nicolas Roeg

Ivan's Childhood

1962

Andrei Tarkovsky

Nashville

1975

Robert Altman

Night and Fog

1955

Alain Resnais

Pather Panchali

1955

Satyajit Ray

Seven Samurai

1954

Akira Kurosawa

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

Bicycle Thieves: I can still remember the sheer thrill of experiencing Italian neo-realism for the first time when I saw this as a 19-year-old film student. Poignant, life-affirming – De Sica captures the essence of humanity. The simplicity of the bicycle and yet its utter relevance to the characters’ lives and the dilemmas thrust upon them when it is stolen resonate. Superb cinematography, wonderful characters and extraordinary performances from the non-professional actors. And a brilliant ending.

Pather Panchali: I saw this film as a student in the late 1970s too and have been haunted by it ever since. The directorial skill is brilliant in capturing the sensuality of India and the wonder of Apu’s world and all the characters – the small joys of life, the father’s thwarted ambition, the mother’s feud with the auntie, hope and poverty. Little Durga’s death is so poignantly depicted, her lie of the necklace theft and the truth about it discovered – and then discarded – by Apu after fever has taken his sister is a storytelling twist that resonates long after the film is over. I can still see Apu and Durga running around the Bengali countryside.

The Seven Samurai: Groundbreaking cinema that set the standard for action films, weaving great characterisation, a strongly crafted story and stunning cinematography to ultimately offer a compelling philosophy about the nature of violence.

Vertigo: Always a favourite of mine, its haunting tale of obsession gets deep into the mind as one watches. Jimmy Stewart’s performance is rich and nuanced, Bernard Herrmann’s music fits to perfection. The screenplay, choice of shots and use of locations are so well-crafted to the tale as to form an inseparable bond that takes the film almost into dream territory.

Citizen Kane: Visual storytelling so absorbing and effective it remains a truly great and inspiring cinematic experience after all these years. Its deep focus shots, low angles and use of montage are still extraordinary. Unfortunately, media moguls in this day and age don’t lock themselves away – at least not voluntarily.

Ivan’s Childhood: Horrors of war, depicted through the eyes of 12-year-old Ivan and his passionate hopes, beliefs and memories, is visual storytelling both poetic and shocking. The powerful dream sequences, images of bodies hung in trees, acts of kindness in the face of trauma, the way in which we discover Ivan’s death at the end, the attention to small details throughout the film, make it a compelling experience.

Night and Fog: Although only 32 minutes long, this documentary about the Holocaust remains for me one of the very finest films exploring and depicting violence at its most horrific. The rawness of filming at Auschwitz only ten years after the war, the stark archival images and probing narration, juxtaposed with Hanns Eisler’s lyrical score, transports the sickening horror into the soul and raises fundamental questions about human nature that stay with you forever.

The Conformist: Bertolucci’s epic tale cuts deep into the psyche that allows wars to flourish but also gives insight into the type of political behaviour we see every day. Sumptuously shot and designed, beautifully directed, with fine, archetypal casting. A film I can watch over and over and find inspiring.

Don’t Look Now: A brilliant example of 70s filmmaking with outstanding editing. The love scene as Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie prepare to go out remains a classic sequence. Venice is captured so well as both a location and state of mind. Dealing with the loss of a child, woven in with psychic ability and a mass murderer on the loose, its story is greater than its parts, and is both creepy and thoroughly enjoyable. The film’s greatest strength for me is its mood of loss and impending doom.

Nashville: Putting the tenth film on the list was the hardest as I had at least another 30 (or 100) that I could equally place here. A personal favourite for its use of sound and music, the freewheeling story that is wonderfully scripted by Joan Tewkesbury, the casting, performances and politics – Altman’s direction brings everything together in such a satisfying way.

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