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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
What is the best film of all time?
Citizen Kane by Orson Welles is the best film ever made, according to a global poll of movie directors and critics.
The poll was carried out by the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine
Citizen Kane is praised for its innovation, and many of the tricks used by Welles - who directed, wrote and starred in the film - are now commonplace in modern movies.
However, the movie only achieved 28th place in a poll of film-goers carried out by Empire magazine last year.
Who is right - the movie-makers or the movie-goers? What is your favourite film of all time, and why?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Pulp Fiction. For great story telling, excellent direction, innovative comedy and the very definition of cool soundtrack. It was the one film that had me participating in figuring out what's happening. Other films give it to you on a silver platter.
To me it has to be the Titanic (1997). I'm not intrigued by the love story, but more by James Cameron's ability to recreate history - well, minus Leo and Kate Winslet of course! It opened my eyes to an event which otherwise would have been just another shipwreck. This movie really moved me to tears.
The best films are those that really shake your perception of the world you live in - and much of this occurs in youth. Films like Time Bandits and Brazil (Gilliam) helped me feel less isolated and Kubrick's Shining twins made my ten year old mind comprehend true terror for the first time. Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka was altogether something else still...
Parvez, London, UK
Fight Club - #1 film of all time. When has a more fitting social commentary for its time ever been made? Coupled with superb acting from Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, and some of the best CG effects I've ever seen. Astounding.
It is far too emotive for any one film to be considered 'the best'. My favourites list is quite long but three of them are : Withnail and I , Excalibur, The Shootist
I think Crimes and Misdemeanours by Woody Allen is the best movie I've seen
Amish Amin, Harrow, England
The best film of all time is Three Colours Red. No other film comes anywhere near it in terms of its sheer humanity.
For teenage kicks, time and time again, The Breakfast Club!
What about Charlie Chaplin's movies, especially Modern Times. It's so old but so funny, touching and true.
Schindler's List - this is the only movie I have ever seen where the audience left the auditorium at the end in total silence. That's impact.
The original cinematic experience in terror. Four letters. J-A-W-S.
Kieran Kennedy, Scotland
My vote is for Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. The true-to-life screenplay, Attenborough's masterful and moving direction, and some stellar acting by Ben Kingsley, Roshan Seth, Saeed Jaffrey and Alyque Padamsee made Gandhi my all time favourite.
Citizen Kane is classic and without gimmicks, utilising basic story elements of love and greed at the centre. The fact that Welles was able to make such a quality film with actors who had little screen work in their backgrounds speaks volumes for his talent and those he surrounded himself with. The cinematic elements used by Welles showed his sensitivity to perception of power and status in the United States.
My favourite film is The Swimmer, made in 1968, starring Burt Lancaster and directed by Frank Perry. I like the film for the dark sub-text and surrealistic plot, and for Lancaster's superb performance as the old friend who swims through the pools of his neighbours gardens on his way home from 'we don't know where' to 'we don't know what'. This film was not a success in it's day and rarely makes it onto the TV, but if you are a fan of Lancaster then try and find yourself a copy.
Roger B, UK
Citizen Kane is all right, but it seems to be one of those films which everyone says is a classic because they've heard that a lot of other people like it. Personally I prefer just about anything made by Hitchcock, particularly Rear Window. He knew how to put people on the edge of their seats, and keep prodding them with a pointed stick.
Every year these lists get announced, and invariably Star Wars or Citizen Kane top the poles, despite the latter being dull and the former being just plain bad. What about American Beauty, Glory, Dead Poets Society and the best sci-fi/action film ever, Terminator 2?
A great film to me is one that stirs emotion in the audience. Two films stand out - The Elephant Man and Meet Joe Black (an extremely underrated film!). Co-incidentally they both have Anthony Hopkins in, showing that when he appears in a well written film he is second to none.
The best film ever? Grease... Obviously.
Pete Thorpe, England
Repo Man for sheer insanity... along with Monty Python's Holy Grail and Life of Brian. Lord of The Rings is one of the best looking films. I always found Midnight Express took me on a long journey from which you needed time to 'come back' once the film had finished.
Wow! And I thought I had Joe Public taste. Maybe Joe doesn't respond to such surveys. Mine would be ET, Rosemary's Baby, American Beauty, Capricorn 1 and It's A Wonderful Life.
It is understandable why the industry voted for Kane, it was innovative. Then so was every Hitchcock movie. How about The 39 Steps or The Birds or Vertigo? George Lucas took us to a new plain of movie excellence. But for me the 20th century was dominated by the art form of the century animation, magical dream worlds created by Walt Disney.
Susan W, Wyoming, USA
My all time favourite film is Dances With Wolves - great screenplay, moving storyline, stunning panoramic landscapes. I can watch it time and again and never fail to be moved.
How about The Blues Brothers for its perfect comic timing?
Amores Perros immediately spits you onto Mexico City's mean streets in a way Scorsese could only dream of - interlocks a story of such stunning grace that makes Tarantino look like something off of Saturday night ITV and kicks it home with a violence and passion rarely seen on the screen.
One of my most favourite movies of all time has to be The Deerhunter. Who can forget the hauntingly captivating theme tune Cavatina? And the final scene where Robert De Niro goes to Vietnam to bring his best friend Christopher Walken home reduces me to tears every time!
The Talented Mr Ripley, directed by Anthony Minghella, is one of the best films I've ever seen - chilling, ambiguous and superbly acted.
Citizen Kane is the forgettable, amateurish first effort of a director and cast who had no previous experience of film-making. The flashback narrative is badly structured and incoherent in places, and the audience is inflicted with two hours of exaggerated ham-acting. Sure it has interesting stylistic touches - but so would a film directed by Edward D. Wood Jr. if he'd had a state-of-the-art studio and technical expertise placed at his disposal like Welles did.
Citizen Kane may well be the best film. It just goes to show that continuity isn't everything; after all the premise of the film is to understand the last words "Rosebud" which were uttered while nobody was around... So how does anyone know what those last words were?
Citizen Kane? Pah, Scooby Doo could run rings round him.
Where is Spiceworld? Why can't I vote for that?
Mike Donovan, UK
I'll back Les Enfants du Paradis, Romeo is Bleeding (very underrated but brilliantly acted); The Red Shoes for beauty and for style and glamour how could you ever beat Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief?
Bedazzled - the 1963 original with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore - pure GENIUS.
Four Words. The Sound Of Music.
For me it's a split decision between Henry V (the Brannagh version) and the film of the ground-breaking and thought-provoking television series On The Buses.
Nick Barker, England
Citizen Kane always gets people arguing - even those who haven't seen it have an opinion. For that reason alone it's a great film. Personally, I love: Kubricks's work - especially Dr Strangelove, Passport to Pimlico, Double Indemnity, Brazil and The Italian Job is pretty fantastic too. Favourite foreign film must be Three Colours: Blue. The great thing about the movies is that they can take you wherever you want depending on your mood.
They should call these things "directors' favourites" and not best films ever. It is a very personal choice.
Any list of greats must include The Grapes of Wrath. A marvellous story superbly filmed. Jane Darwell as Ma Joad was amazing, and Tom Joad must have been one of Henry Fonda's best ever performances.
The three best films ever: Rear Window, Brazil and Being John Malkovich.
The lists focus very heavily on English language films; the highest listed non-European film comes in fifth on one list. Tokyo Monpogatari remains stunning both technically and in terms of story. Do not forget Pathar Panchali either. No films from Eastern Europe at all. Makes one wonder...
Matt Charlton, England
My greatest movie of all time is Shawshank Redemption. I watch it very often and it is the only piece of culture (except for books and classical music) which truly changed my life.
Best film of all time -
Carry on up the Khyber.
No-one mentioned Wuthering Heights? The 1939
companion to The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind. You can't get much better than Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon.
Of course Withnail and I is the best film ever with a superb performance by Richard E. Grant! I demand to have some booze.
Gary Thomas, UK
Choosing the top whatever of whatever is pointless. There are many different genres and we all have different tastes. Many people choose what everybody else says because they think it makes them look bright. But ask them to explain why it is their favourite movie and they will be lost for words. For me the greatest movie is Cool Hand Luke. Why? Great performances, great story and the good guy don't win in the end. Or does he?
Judging by the times I can replay the videos and enjoy the films anew, my favourites are LA Confidential - and it's pretty faithful to the stunning James Ellroy book - and Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei at their best in My Cousin Vinnie. Both films rely on great scripts, not on mind-numbing special effects. And a mention for nostalgia-England: The Titfield Thunderbolt.
A less well known or publicised masterpiece is Stand by Me starring the late River Phoenix. This is my personal favourite. The performance of the four young boys are absolutely outstanding.
Dave Smith, New Zealand
Why has no-one mentioned Casablanca? I'm shocked!
Very difficult choice but I would go for either Full Metal Jacket (probably the finest anti-war movie ever made), Lolita (Kubrick's version), Goodfellas or Blade Runner. It all depends on what mood you are in but for comedy I would settle for Withnail and I just to wake up all the Citizen Kane 'stiffs in here'.
David Clifford, UK
The Wizard of Oz could easily be in the top ten. A timeless classic that enthralled us as children and can still captivate us more than 60 years after it was made.
I can't believe nobody voted for Blade Runner. It's a modern classic that makes you reflect about what life really is. Fantastic photography and excellent music from Vangelis. A masterpiece.
12 Angry Men has to be up there with the best. The simplicity of its direction, the wonderful acting and the cleverness of the script keeps one engrossed from start to finish.
There has been much comment that there are no British movies in the top 10. What about 2001? Kubrick hailed from the US but he adopted England as his home and rarely left it. 2001 has a British screenplay writer and was shot in Borehamwood by a largely British crew. The studio involved was MGM, but film histories always list this picture's country of origin as the UK, not the US. Finally, on a personal note, I don't think 2001: A Space Odyssey could have been made anywhere other than the UK.
Without a doubt
Withnail and I, it has you laughing and crying all day long.
To Jase, Leeds: Sir, I suggest we meet up and have cake and the finest wines known to humanity! You are of course correct, Withnail and I is by far and away the best film ever made.
It would have to be either Gone With The Wind or Dr Zhivago, both wonderfully emotive films showing people overcoming hardships and life altering changes. A film that made me think a lot was Schindler's List. The photography was amazing and brought a horrific subject to life, definitely a modern classic.
I haven't yet seen Citizen Kane, but I fully intend to do so the next chance I get. In my opinion, the best film I have ever seen is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This film was stunning - the direction,
acting, plot and cinematography were flawless.
I certainly agree that Citizen Kane is probably the film that set the standard for modern film making. However, there are so many genres with their own classics that deserve to be given an equal footing. Fail Safe, Dr Strangelove, Apocalypse Now, Das Boot, 12 Angry Men, and Akira are just some examples.
Paul Scourfield, UK
I agree with most choices made by the critics and directors. The movies that have had most impact for me are Bride of Frankenstein (Whale, 1935), Bringing Up Baby (Hawks, 1938), All Quiet on the Western Front (Milestone, 1930), Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954), Schindler's List (Spielberg, 1993). There are others but brevity is important. Whale's film combines excellent cinematic story telling with technical and acting expertise, and it does not receive enough recognition.
What is refreshing is to see a list of best films that really is that. A list of the best films, rather than the best films from the last five years which is what these lists normally are.
Once Upon a Time in America is my all time favourite film. The emotive depth and honesty of the film, in my mind has not been surpassed. De Niro gives an outstanding performance - once again.
My greatest movie of all time would have to be The Shawshank Redemption. I can still remember how emotional it made me the first time I saw it. A modern classic.
Film Buff, Wales UK
I saw Citizen Kane at the top of a similar list a few years ago. I got the video as a result. I wasn't impressed! The voters on the list probably think I'm ignorant. I think they're just pretentious.
My favourite film of all time is, without doubt, Aliens.
The only film to ever give me nightmares, it remains a science fiction classic, and resulted in a deserved Oscar for Sigourney.
The crux of this debate, however, appears to be whether a film should be remembered more for its technical skill or its ability to entertain.
While CK is no doubt technically impressive, as entertainment, its not the best.
My favourite film of all time is undoubtedly The Robe. Twentieth Century Fox used it to introduce the CinemaScope technique with 4-track magnetic stereophonic sound, revolutionary at that time. Spiritually, a deeply moving film, with impeccable performances from Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature and Michael Rennie. I lost count of the number of times I saw this film, before finally buying a video of it.
David Bowley, UK
I have watched a lot of films in my time. A favourite will depend on whether you see films as works of great art, or throw-away entertainment. My favourite film of all time used to be Jacob's Ladder, but recently I stumbled across the remake Vanilla Sky and was blown away. It's just a shame that most of these so-called critics who constantly whinge about the lack of imagination and plot in contemporary cinema cry like babies when films like Vanilla Sky and Mulholland Drive are released. When a film can move you, make you laugh and explore a dozen different themes whilst challenging the viewer's preconceptions... well, that's what I call a damn good film.
Good though these films are, you wouldn't necessarily choose to watch them repeatedly; some are a struggle to watch even once! Surely watchability is a more relevant criterion than any vague notion of "greatness."
Personally, the film I would choose for my desert island is Day of the Jackal, which I find spellbinding.
Movie-goers should have the final say. After all, they are the ones who movies are created for. The greatest film of all time for me is Schindler's List. It's still the only film that has ever made me cry, being the most moving and compelling film I've seen. I would actually go so far as to say that it should be on the national curriculum.
Darren O, UK
Nine Monkeys by Terry Gilliam would be very high on my list. A fascinating movie worth seeing over and over again. Ghandi is another one, it is very well made and it has very touching scenes and some great mass-scenes. As far as Citizen Kane is concerned, I think Movie-makers and goers look with different eyes at a movie.
I think Rachel might mean Twelve Monkeys!! I agree that occasionally the "great" films are not necessarily the same ones that you may want to watch over and over again, but that says more about the human attention span than anything else. There are so many different criterion for judging film that it's impossible to pick the best film ever, but for a truly wonderful, heart-warming, and beautiful cinematic experience, go and see Amelie. Or for a film that evokes the adolescent lying dormant in us all, then the elegaic Virgin Suicides is a masterpiece.
The movie-makers are right this time. Citizen Kane, even almost 60 years on, is a breathtaking masterpiece and prime example of artistic innovation. It's one of my personal faves, together with Taxi Driver, Godfather Parts I and II.
Most people should be forgiven for not appreciating how innovative 'Citizen Kane' actually was, as most of us were not around when it was made, however it does appear dated when seen in comparison to films such as 'Blade Runner' which have built on the lighting/ atmosphere/ suspense techniques that Wells pioneered. For me, great art should be timeless, so my choice would be 'Twelve Angry Men', which relied totally on inspired writing, and superhuman acting, not technical trickery, or a budget the size of a third-world country's national debt.
The genius of Kane
09 Aug 02 | Film
23 Sep 01 | Film
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