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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Citizen Kane tops critics' poll
Orson Welles
Citizen Kane is a perennial critics' favourite
Citizen Kane by Orson Welles, about the life of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane, is the best film ever made, according to a global critics' poll.

The poll of international critics and directors was carried out by the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine.

Both critics and directors put Citizen Kane at the top after being asked to name their top 10 films.

Critics' top 10
1. Citizen Kane (Welles) 1941
2. Vertigo (Hitchcock) 1958
3. La Regle du Jeu (Renoir) 1939
4. The Godfather I and II (Coppola) 1972, 1974
5. Tokyo Story (Ozu) 1953
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick) 1968
7. Sunrise (Murnau) 1927
8. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein) 1925
9. 8 1/2 (Fellini) 1963
10. Singin' in the Rain (Kelly, Donen) 1951

It is said to be the most innovative film of all time, and many of the tricks used by Welles - who directed, wrote and starred in the film - are now commonplace in modern movies.

The film famously revolves around Kane's dying word - "Rosebud" - and a journalist's attempts to discover its meaning, which reveals his subject's life in a series of flashbacks.

The movie has topped the Sight and Sound critics' poll for the last four decades.

But there was much less agreement over the rest of the all time top 10.

The critics plumped for Alred Hitchcock's intense, obsessive thriller Vertigo for second spot.

But the directors put Francis Ford Coppola's mafia sagas The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in second place.

Films appearing in both the directors' and the critics' top 10s include Renoir's La Regle du jeu and 8 1/2 by Fellini.

Most recent

There were no British films anywhere near the top 10, although British directors were represented by Hitchcock and David Lean in the directors' poll.

The highest-placed British film was the Graham Greene-scripted The Third Man by Carol Reed at number 35.

The most recently made film to reach the directors' top 10 is Raging Bull, made in 1980, with The Godfather Part II the most recent in the critics' poll.

Directors' top 10
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather I and II
3. 8 1/2
4. Lawrence of Arabia (Lean) 1962
5. Dr Strangelove (Kubrick) 1963
6. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica) 1948
Raging Bull (Scorsese) 1980
Vertigo (Hitchcock) 1958
9. Rashomon (Kurosawa) 1950
La Regle du jeu
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa) 1954
The twin polls are held every 10 years, with contributions from leading figures in the film world such as Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, Bernardo Bertolucci, Tim Robbins, Sam Mendes and Cameron Crowe.

Around 250 of the world's leading critics and directors nominated more than 700 different films in the polls.

The critics' poll started in 1952, with this year's critics from countries as far afield as Bangladesh, Cuba, Estonia and the Philippines taking part.

Well-known critics who voted include Barry Norman, Jonathan Ross and Mark Kermode from the UK, and Camille Paglia, Roger Ebert and David Denby from the US.


The directors' poll is the second, after the poll's debut in 1992.

The editor of Sight & Sound, Nick James, said: "The critics poll is a touchstone for worldwide film opinion.

"For the last 40 years Citizen Kane has topped the critics' poll confirming Orson Welles, the director, as the Shakespeare of modern cinema.

"Pushing all the resources of a Hollywood studio to its limits, the film is a dazzling formal experiment and compelling portrait of a great man's life."

Which film would head your top 10?

Citizen Kane


The Godfather I and II

2001: A Space Odyssey

Singin' in the Rain

10606 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Film Favourites
Is Citizen Kane the best movie ever made?
See also:

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