David Thompson

Arts Documentary Maker

Voted for

L'Atalante1934Jean Vigo
La Règle du jeu1939Jean Renoir
1963Federico Fellini
Pandora's Box1928G.W. Pabst
GOTO, L'ILE D'AMOUR1968Walerian Borowczyk
The Conformist1970Bernardo Bertolucci
À NOS AMOURS1983Maurice Pialat
Bad Timing1980Nicolas Roeg
Persona1966Ingmar Bergman
Touki Bouki1973Djibril Diop Mambéty



1934 France

If there has to be one, this is it - magical, poetic, erotic, the film has everything that cinema offers. What might Vigo have done had he lived longer?

La Règle du jeu

1939 France

So hard to choose one film from Renoir's great decade - almost all his films from the 1930s are masterpieces in one way or another. La Règle remains his most challenging and personal.

1963 Italy, France

I re-viewed this not so long ago on a large screen, and it still blew me away with its bravura, wit and invention.

Pandora's Box

1928 Germany

Films have captured immutable images of so many great actors, but none with greater mystery and power than Louise Brooks in Pabst's remarkable Wedekind adaptation.


1968 France

Borowczyk was a brilliantly original animator who translated his vision into live action to make films unlike those of anyone else.

The Conformist

1970 Italy, France, Federal Republic of Germany

A triumphant matching of major talents – director, cinematographer, designer, editor, composer, actors – produced this always provocative and dazzling drama.


1983 France

All of Pialat's films are rich and extraordinary, but this is arguably his most humane and personal.

Bad Timing

1980 United Kingdom

One of a handful of visionary British directors who defy national clichés, Roeg has to be on the list.


1966 Sweden

However many times this is seen, Bergman's rich and complex investigation into life, art and cinema never fails to feel shocking and modern.

Touki Bouki

1973 Senegal

Of many recent discoveries that the glorious world of restoration has brought forth, Mambéty's film came as a huge shock and pleasure, as much for its visual fair as its brilliant use of sound.

Further remarks

Choosing ten has to be extremely personal; it's impossible to encompass all the pleasures I have had over more than half a century of film-watching. What, no Bunuel, Bresson or Mizoguchi? Nothing from Welles, Hitchcock, Altman or Scorsese? Alas, there are no screwball comedies, horror movies, musicals or Westerns. And no films made by women – though the numbers are growing fast. At least in an age when the long-form streamed on television threatens to close cinemas faster than a pandemic, not to mention reducing the personal vision of directors (David Lynch a proud exception), there is still a vast history of feature-film making which remains inextinguishable. In many ways it's more accessible than ever before, and perhaps it needs polls like this to encourage new generations to seek out the true gems. And – hopefully – always go further.