Richard Dyer

Professor Emeritus in Film Studies

Voted for

La dolce vita1960Federico Fellini
Tokyo Story1953Yasujirō Ozu
Man with a Movie Camera1929Dziga Vertov
Meet Me in St. Louis1944Vincente Minnelli
La CAPTIVE2000Chantal Akerman
Weekend2011Andrew Haigh
There's Always Tomorrow1955Douglas Sirk


La dolce vita

1960 Italy, France

Socially and historically a landmark film, sensing, influencing and ambivalently critiquing the role of media, gossip, hedonism and celebrity in modern culture - but all done with brio, scale and complexity achieved with an astonishing lightness of touch, utterly confident in itself as cinema.

Tokyo Story

1953 Japan

If Fellini is all about movement, Ozu is about stillness, equally valid choices in grasping the formal possibilities of cinema. Here poignancy, regret and sadness come through all the keener by virtue of the restraint of performance, composition and editing.

Man with a Movie Camera

1929 Ukrainian SSR, USSR

Here complexity is worn in the sleeve, not effortlessly swept up in movement as in Fellini, and hectic, tumbling, but superbly rythmically controlled editing are as valid a choice as the rigour of Ozu's tempi. For for all its self-reflexivity and intellectual excitement, this is also a viscerally exhilarating movie.


1959 India

Also a film about film-making, but suffused with regret and disappointment, superbly captured in gorgeous black and white cinematography and sublime singing. As with all Hindi movies, there is also jollity and comedy, here offsetting the intensity of the central melancholy.


1955 Italy

Sometimes you just have to let a great ensemble cast do its stuff. A superb line-up of players with the great Franca Valeri at its heart, this, like all great comedy, is hilarious and witty but also limned with bitterness, social acuity and sadness.

Meet Me in St. Louis

1944 USA

While the story celebrates the everyday, the film dresses it up in lush colour and elaborate settings and camera movement that pitch it at just the right level of theatricality to make bursting into song seem effortless and obvious. And while the genre celebrates happiness, here there are just enough hints of frustration and loss to make the happiness seem all the more worth hoping for.


2000 France, Belgium

Mesmerising and engrossing, as much for its use of sound - the clacking of heels, surprising surging music, silence - as of sight, the rigour of camera placement and movement and the pace of editing, all taking us inside obsession, the obsession of watching and listening.


2011 United Kingdom

Modesty is also a virtue. Here is an unassuming story told with complete confidence and unobtrusiveness, miraculously capturing both the delight and the poignancy of a brief encounter, its fleetingness and its emotional weight.

There's Always Tomorrow

1955 USA

But emotional intensity is good too. Here the full resources of the studio system are exquisitely marshalled to convey a longing that breaks the heart, a desperate desire to kick against convention and an equally strong commitment to not doing so.


1962 Italy

All the madness, illogic and delirium of the dream and the funfair, throwing plausibilty and decorum to the winds, this too is cinema. Nor should we forget the perennial cinematic pleasure of beautiful bodies.

Further remarks

I have tried to choose a range of films that suggest some of the things film can do, formally and in the feelings they engender, and to choose supreme examples of these.