Words by Yazen Al Samen
First, I’m going to look at the list from the view of the points I made above about what does a list like this offer, and the first thing that strikes me is Vertigo. When it was released, in 1958, Vertigo was mauled, considered a flop by Hitchcock, but it’s stature has risen in the last few decades.
It featured on the Sight & Sound poll for the first time in 1982, and has gained places since then. Also, I was struck by the inclusion of Man With a Movie Camera, the silent Russian documentary about a day in the life of a city in Russia in the 1920s. I watched the movie last year (borrowed from the University, the Albert Sloman library).It is a great film, I have never seen anything like it. But I didn’t quite realize how highly it is appreciated until I saw it on this list, which goes back to the points I made above.
This year, we also see Citizen Kane lost its crown. Citizen Kane, for me, and I imagine many, is still the definite change in cinema history, nothing was the same after it. Even now, it is still a revelation to see it, and if I have to pick a best film of all time as a consensus, the movie would be Citizen Kane. It is the ultimate expression of art in movies, and the most important.
But Vertigo is equally a worthy holder of the crown, at least for the next ten years. Hitchcock, within society, is stereotyped as the director of murder mysteries, but his movies are so much more. He knew how to use women in his movies, and how to build his stories around their characters, that is what I love most about his films. Vertigo is now regarded as his ultimate masterpiece, and I share that convention, it is the most passionate movie out there about passion, and how it maddens people.
And in the end, that’s what I really like about this list, is that it contains films that matter. At least to me and it offers a good barometer on general consensus at the time. That Vertigo is now number 1 and Citizen Kane is number 2 is merely a technicality. What is worth discussing is how highly they, and other movies, are rated. And as I said, that is what it’s all about, watching movies, then talking about them.