Mohammed Rouda

Senior film critic

Voted for

Stalker1979Andrei Tarkovsky
Ran1985Akira Kurosawa
Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock
Apocalypse Now1979Francis Ford Coppola
Amarcord1972Federico Fellini
Citizen Kane1941Orson Welles
The Wild Bunch1969Sam Peckinpah
Nosferatu1922F.W. Murnau
La Règle du jeu1939Jean Renoir
The Godfather1972Francis Ford Coppola



1979 USSR

If I could enlist all Tarkovsky's feature films and consider them as collectively one item, I wouldn't hesitate. They are all soulful and spiritually enlightening. Staker is the one I repeatedly watch and always find it to be one of the best films ever made.


1985 France, Japan

King Lear was made masterfully a number of times by many directors, but Kurosawa's version is most close to the painful fate of the main character. Less speaches and more visual than many. Kurosawa gives the play a widened scope, sparing no effort to keep it both Shakesperian and Kurosawaian.


1958 USA

Every time I watch this film I feel there is a real possibility that nothing of what I'm watching is real. Yes, it's about a man who might have illusions about this woman and believed himself responsible for her death because of his fear of heights. Yes, it's a story that is well-planed and told even without any deep interpretation. But wait a minute, am I actually watching a story told by a dead man? The film doesn't show us how John 'Scoottie' Ferguson managed to stay alive while hanging from the roof with a weak metal thing. If the police rushed, in time, to help him by another attempt from the roof or by placing a long ladder for him descent on, why would he need a walking stick? Isn't more likely then that his grip on that edge gave in and he just fell to his certain death? No answers and there shouldn't be any. The film provides the questions and is told so cleverly by Master Hitchcock and that's more than enough. Technically superb.

Apocalypse Now

1979 USA

There is an ideal resemblance between what the film is about and what its director is about. The film is about a mission (firstly) that doesn't go wrong. It goes, well, apocalyptic. The same thing happened with Coppola as the shooting of the film was hit by a problem after a problem. The film is all about the hell of wars and the lost meaning of glory through that journey into the abyss. It's about agony, misery, the fall of concepts, principles and ideals. All is achieved by such visual and poetic powers. The film is made of sequences and each talks volume to the human (or rather inhuman) condition the main character and all who surrounds him go through. Through it all, the sequences are not to develop the story, but to give the audience samples and examples of what it's all about to be in hell.


1972 Italy, France

A masterpiece of irony, intimacy, nostalgia and comedy. Fellini denied it's a biography of his early youth. Actually, and though there is a lot of him in it, it doesn't really matter. At times it's so close to real-life feelings of growing up in a time of great political and personal changes. At others it's like a festival of fantasy and joy. It's so full of artistic elements which keeps it so different from any other biographical film in history. Its women are strange and passionate and sometimes scary. All the characters seem to be drawn out not only from the memory of the filmmaker, but also from a hand of a painter – and Fellini was a cartoonist before he became the great film director.

Citizen Kane

1941 USA

Mank, by David Fincher, brought back the argument about who, really was the ace writer of this film, Mankiewicz or Orson Welles. Looking at Mankiewicz's previous and later works doesn't show us any other work of the same calibre. Also the way the film is told and executed reveals of a master director at work. The film never curves or drop. The narrative starts fresh and rich and keeps going the same way. I dare to think that regardless who wrote the film for real, the script, as impressive as it is, is not a major play here. It does not work to tell an A to Z story. It's what's made of it and how it's conceived and developed into the film that so impressive and deservedly occupies its status as one of the very best films in the history of cinema.

The Wild Bunch

1969 USA

I've seen hundreds of good and bad westerns, as it's one genre I love more than any other. Nothing I'd seen prepares you for what takes place in the first 15 minutes or so of The Wild Bunch. Yes, you would expect that this bunch, led by a tired-looking William Holden, is about to commit something. Not only how the raid will start, and who will be doing what, but when and how the bank robbery will explode to the chaos it does. Children playing a violent game with ants and scorpions. A town parade is marching through and a bunch of hired men are on the roofs to interfere and kill. Soon the killing starts, the violence erupts and the story begins asking us to stand with a group of desperate men trying to live through the nothingness of life. A fantastic job from a man who has his own understanding of the west and his own way to show it.


1922 Germany

There is this scene in which the camea is looking down from a framed window to a open cart carrying a coffin. It's Count Orlok's body in that coffin. The relentless vampire in one of its early appearances, and actually one of the best till today. The silent scenes. The reflection of fear upon the village people. The black and white and the created atmosphere of those long shots… all deepen the fear we are bound to experience especially on the first viewing.

La Règle du jeu

1939 France

It's almost plotless. It has so many characters who love, hate, spy and play on each other. It's a comedy not only to make us laugh but also to make us aware about the ruling class and the not so fortunate people who work for them. About the bourgeoisie, though not all of them are bad, and those who live around them trying to share the show of the upper class. Renoir draws a lot of circles around each person and a bigger one around them all. The comedy is dipped with tragedy and this is the Rules of the Game.

The Godfather

1972 USA

There is nothing that has not been said about this masterwork. It's the best film on a number of levels: the acting, the execution of the scenes, the characters (all the characters regardless the size of their roles) and how they differ and move and the way that the film keeps indulging us in a film that is much more than just a gangster film. The careful attention paid to each detail along with Gordon Willis's majestic cinematography as it handles the different situations in the same breath of the film's creator.

Further remarks

Actually, there are 50 other movies that deserve to be included. I'm fighting the desire to enlist some in this space.