|Picnic at Hanging Rock
|Death in Venice
|Dogs in Space
|A Clockwork Orange
|The Talented Mr. Ripley
|Don't Look Now
|The Wicker Man
Picnic at Hanging Rock
The essential mystery of cinema, that otherworldliness on which the illusion depends, is captured here as nowhere else. John Jarratt tells me that it was almost accidental, that cast and crew had no idea they were making something so important.
Vertigo is at once a story, a puzzle and confession. Kim Novak's use of plastic surgery to try to keep her face looking the way it did then is the finishing touch with Hitchcock could not have anticipated, but he knew what it mean to capture and idolise the image of a woman on the screen, eclipsing the real thing.
One of those films which lifts the viewer outside time and space, this is Tarkovsky's true masterpiece.
Often the most powerful stories emerge from cross-cultural fusion. Nobody has come close to adapting Shakespeare for the screen like Kurosawa did, and all the majesty and poignancy of Lear comes to the fore here, together with a distillation of tragic aspects of Japanese history, vivid folklore and truly spectacular battle scenes.
Death in Venice
Despite the rich sources which it draws on, this is a complete and self-contained film, the incomparable beauty for which all those other artists, from Mahler to Mann, might have lived and died.
Dogs in Space
No other film has captured life as an outsider in this period so adeptly, nor understood so well the compulsions underscoring it. A superb piece of impressionistic filmmaking, this is a thing of beauty.
A Clockwork Orange
I first saw this film when it was still banned, squatting in a tiny space in a packed student union room to viddy a bootleg copy. As little Alex understood, ideas want to be free. Nobody else could have brought Burgess' to life with the gorgeousness and gorgeosity that Kubrick did.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Patricia Highsmith's work has given us a good deal of good cinema but in terms of sheer class, nothing else comes close to this. From the unspoken connection between its two leading characters to the ride down the mirror-lined street, it's a dazzling piece of work.
Don't Look Now
The fluidity of dream and memory; the all-consuming agony of loss, and the disorientation which follows - all of this is captured in Roeg's finest work, which we seem to see, in its swirls and eddies, from the point of view of one already drowned.
The Wicker Man
On the day that Robin Hardy died, I watched the sun go down over the highlands, a swollen ball of gold, like it did on that fortuitous day when the gods smiled upon his set and he captured the head of the wicker man crashing down to the ground. Everything about this film came together against the odds, and it captures the deep divide which remains at the heart of European culture with unrivalled wit, acuity and poignancy.
I regret that there are no films on my list by female directors. I hope that this will not remain the case. The likes of Jennifer Kent and Ana Lily Amirpour persuade me that men's domination of cinema is historical artefact only; that there is equivalent talent amongst women and that it is only a matter of time until it produces work of this quality. The democratisation of cinema is bringing many new voices to the fore, and we will all benefit from that. This is one of the most exciting periods in film history.