Subrata Sen


Voted for

Man with a Movie Camera1929Dziga Vertov
Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock
Pather Panchali1955Satyajit Ray
À bout de souffle1960Jean-Luc Godard
Citizen Kane1941Orson Welles
Tokyo Story1953Yasujirō Ozu
1963Federico Fellini
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Pulp Fiction1994Quentin Tarantino
Belle de jour1967Luis Buñuel


Man with a Movie Camera

1929 Ukrainian SSR, USSR

This film began it all. Combining all the techniques available at hand and also inventing some of them. This film shows that a film cannot be confined in any category.


1958 USA

Enthralling and gripping. Hitchcock's masterpiece. The "vertigo effect" created by the lens and camera usage goes to show that cinematic expression can be manipulated to create a psychological effect on the viewer. Filmmakers will always be indebted to Hitchcock for the art of surprise that he introduced into the language of cinema.

Pather Panchali

1955 India

A simple tale of an impoverished simple family and their story of migration in search of a better life. A story of rural Bengal, but also a story of families in many parts of the world.

Though there were previous attempts, this film actually brought about a revolution in the alternative film movement in India.

À bout de souffle

1960 France

Will always be the "cult".

Citizen Kane

1941 USA

The classic, which ought to remain a classic forever.

Tokyo Story

1953 Japan

The film, with Ozu's distinctive style of low angle and no camera movement, teaches us filmmaking is not about sticking to conventional grammar (the 360 degree axis rule, where the characters look, etc) but is all about slowly dragging the audience into the film and leaving the audience in awe. This is a masterpiece and will always remain one.

1963 Italy, France

For me, this is all about the confusion that a filmmaker faces while making a film. Absurd, funny, provocative, yet makes me sad every time I see the film.

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

The best sci-fi movie made so far and probably the beginning of the genre. A masterpiece by Kubrick.

Pulp Fiction

1994 USA

Maybe a bit too early to comment, but according to me this film will be remembered in the post-modern context. A script that's provocative, where time and space are constantly blurred, yet the film goes on with a narrative that's easy to watch.

Belle de jour

1967 France, Italy

The best of desire.

Further remarks

How many films can a person see in his own lifetime? Maybe thirty thousand, maybe sixty thousand?

To make a list of ten films from them is actually an absurd task.

But yes, it's true that most of the films get deleted from memory. Yet, the number of films that stay throughout is quite a handful. More than ten to fill the list let's say.

For me, who grew up in India in the '70s and '80s watching cinema from all over the world, this was a difficult task. The mainstream was flooded with Hollywood and of course Bombay. Bombay was already beginning to corner the regional films in India. Bengal was no exception.

Fortunately, Kolkata had a legacy of Film Societies which tried hard to procure and show films from all over the world through private screenings. It was this initiation which brought us close to World Cinema, which taught us that films could be different from the regular blockbusters from Hollywood and Bollywood. I still remember those days when we used to walk from our home to the British Council Library to go through the latest issue of Sight and Sound at the Library reading hall to understand what was happening in the world of cinema. With the advent of VHS cassettes, the situation changed somewhat. Some libraries started procuring cinema from all over the world and our vision started changing.

Of course our city Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) had Satyajit Ray, who began the film society movement in the city in the early '50s. Also there was Mrinal Sen. And there was the maverick Ritwik Ghatak, who was probably not that well-known outside this region. They had their followers, and also detractors who thought they were too old-school.

I had to say this because filmmakers and audiences differ from country to country and even within a country from region to region. Therefore, the choice of films would differ too from person to person. And, at the end of it, the list of "best films" is a personal choice. Such as my list.

I am not sure about myself too. Am I satisfied with the list that I have made finally? I don't know. It makes me sad not to include "Modern Times" or "Seven Samurai" on the list. Or "400 Blows" and "Autumn Sonata". Ten is too small a number.

Also, maybe ten years ago, I would have included some other films. My list might change ten years from now. So, it's not only the upbringing, the culture to which I belong and other factors that have influenced the list. It's also about one's mental state, one's age.

Therefore, as I said, my list is extremely personal and is dependent on the time and space where I belong now.