|2001: A Space Odyssey
|SAIKAKU ICHIDAI ONNA
|Grave of the Fireflies
|The Red Shoes
|Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
|Last Year at Marienbad
|Tabu A Story of the South Seas
|Pier Paolo Pasolini
|The Spirit of the Beehive
2001: A Space Odyssey
Each time I see it (the first time I was 12 years old) this journey into both the universe and the nature of mankind is like an emotional and aesthetic blast. Through the combination of technical and magical elements, Kubrick has created a unique but universal mythology. So deep and visionary, it’s still unsurpassed. The more I see it, the more I’m struck and moved by its optimism. Stanley Kubrick, we miss you so much!
Like 2001, but in a totally different way, Stalker is another great blast in my life, another beacon. It transcends all genres to express in the most poetical and simple way the longing for communion with nature and for happiness in a devastated world. It is unfortunately all too real. Hypnotic, immersive, deeply philosophic… I’m forever under the spell of its melancholic and surreal atmosphere. The Zone, the mythical Room… It’s not a film, it’s a place that haunts you.
SAIKAKU ICHIDAI ONNA
This epic and tragic portrait of the fall of a woman is my favorite Mizoguchi (and I deeply love and admire all his films) and the most poignant film I have ever seen about the life of a woman – along with The Eternal Breasts by Tanaka Kinuyo.
The Life of Oharu is so rich and deep, so subtle and sophisticated, so precise and so evocative at the same time. The visuals, the pace, the music, everything is perfect, and the performance by Tanaka Kinuyo is devastating.
I have recently discovered Larisa Shepitko’s films and I can’t believe that she isn’t as well-known as her contemporaries Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergei Parajanov, and (her husband) Elem Klimov. Deeply spiritual, the Ascent is far more than a film about war and deals with complex existential questions. The snow, ice, and mud of the landscapes are the main characters in the story, with human beings trying to survive in such an environment. And the absolute love and dedication of the filmmaker, actors and crew essential to create this harrowing masterpiece in such extreme conditions (mirroring the struggle of the characters) is remarkable.
Grave of the Fireflies
There are amazing gems among animation films, but the mastery with which Takahada manages to convey the complexity of life, its fragile and brief beauty and the emotions of its drawn characters, is extraordinary. It’s also one of the most haunting, heart-wrenching and profound tales ever told about war. The magical and elegiac moments of natural beauty and childish delight make the tragedy even more harrowing. It makes me weep in a way that no other film does.
The Red Shoes
The Red Shoes by the great duo Powell & Pressburger is a dazzling and haunting aesthetic experience. One of the best films about art and the exhilaration that goes with it, shot in the most exquisite way by Jack Cardiff. The film is a firework of spectacular images and the impact of the intense Technicolor colors and visual effects is like a trip on acid or mushrooms. The inventive set and costume design are an endless source of inspiration for filmmakers. The ballet within the film, mirroring the tragic story happening in real life, is the most fascinating part of the film.
Last Year at Marienbad
This mesmerizing and dreamlike film by one of the most inventive French filmmakers is a unique variation on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and a staggering play on time and space, exploring the mechanisms of brain and memory.
The Escher-like scenery that never reveals its secrets, as does the film itself, is an utter delight. It’s also a pleasure to get lost with the wonderful Delphine Seyrig – moreover, in a French garden. The most wonderful gift of the film is that it never completely gives away its mysteries.
Tabu A Story of the South Seas
Hard to choose only one film from the silent era, the golden age of cinema. From all directors of that period, Murnau is the greatest and Tabu for me is the greatest of his films, and the one that touches me the most with its apparent simplicity and yet complexity, its plastic and spiritual beauty, its unique and prodigious mix of ethnographic documentary and expressionist drama.
It’s a tragic and terrifying film, where a young couple’s love is doomed from the beginning. They have no place to live: neither in the greedy Western world nor in the apparently Edenic Bora-Bora where the rules of the tabus are utterly cruel.
The last shot, of the young man swimming, desperately trying to reach the canoe that irrevocably takes away his lover, is one of the most beautiful and devastating of the history of cinema, forever haunting me.
Funny, poetic, feverish, obsessive, tragic… Mamma Roma captures with an extraordinary vitality and in a beautiful black and white photography the feeling of human existence.
Anna Magnani’s performance and charisma, the originality of the narrative structure, the directness and the prosaic nature of the style create true poetry, and the ability to transcend reality also contributes to make Mamma Roma one of the most thrilling and iconic of Pasolini’s films.
The Spirit of the Beehive
This film has a very special place in my heart. Long before I saw it, I had dreamt of it for years, having just seen the image of the two young girls playing along a railway, waiting for the monster of Frankenstein to come (this was how I’d imagined the story). I was been more than rewarded when I saw it. Erice’s film is deep and complex, and full of mystery and poetry. It puts us in a childlike state, where dreams and reality mix, as no other film does. Of all children on screen, the young Ana Torrent, who was still able to believe in monsters and wonders at that time, is the most unforgettable. It’s also one of the most beautiful films about the magic of cinema I know.
Making a (subjective) list of the ten ‘best films of all time’ is a heart-breaking choice. Nevertheless, here are ten films that have had the greatest impact on me, and whose achievement is absolutely amazing. And even the darkest ones give faith through their inspiration and creativity.