Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Empire Magazine's 500 Greatest Movies of all Time: Ridiculous and Predictable

As brought to my attention, by my glorious cousin Jenna, Empire Magazine’s top 500 Movies is utterly ridiculous, for two big reasons that both have predictability at the root of the issue.

Reason No. 1: I, and this is no word of a lie, just by seeing the first 10 movies, (500-490), on the list could predict exactly what the number one movie pick was. This bothers me firstly because it would be nice for once to see a list that I would not be able to predict the number one pick and had, and this brings me to Reason No. 2, a variety of films.

Reason No. 2: One would say that this list does have a variety of films but not as one might think. Just because you throw in a few Fellini and Kurosawa films doesn’t make this a variety of films. Just because you have some Antonioni movies and some movies staring John Paul Belmondo doesn’t make this any form of variety. Again I come to the word predictable, because this so called “variety” was as predictable as a first year cinema course. Intro to Film anyone?

Now it is not that I have something against films that belong to the vast film cannon that a first year cinema course would choose from. What I do have a problem with is the fact that a list this long includes movies like Spider-Man II and X-Men II and not ones like Roma Open City, Rocky Horror Picture Show or Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song or something fun like that and those are ones that should be regulars on a list like this. There is only one Chaplin film on the list, which is a very disappointing, but two of the three Pirates of the Caribbean films? I don’t even think there was Pather Panchali on there, or anything by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Satyajit Ray. And just because they include Un chien andalou doesn’t mean that they have covered the vast list of films that belong to what one would call avant-garde cinema. And since when did The Shawshank Redemption become better then 2001? Overall this list is a complete bust, enough of this asking the general public what they think. Next time leave it to people who at least have some background in cinema studies and are considered experts in their fields, they are considered experts for a reason.

These lists should allow the general public to be exposed to films that they might not be able to get at their local Blockbuster and might need to go to an out of the way specialized video store for, and, shall I dare say, might need to buy a VHS copy on EBay to see. There are only 141 films made before 1970 on this list, like are we serious? A list like this should inspire people to expand their cinematic horizons and to experience something outside their national cinemas and before the decade they were born.

To quote one of my dear cinema professors, Nicholas Sammond, “More than simply a medium, film was one of the central social forces of the 20th century, and may be for this one as well. Film…gives us a rich language for discussing and describing the world.” These are the things we need to remember when compiling a list like this. We should be advocating this sentiment when thinking about what to include in these lists and in doing so choose to exclude despite how many votes it gets things like Spider-Man II or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

I must note that it was nice to see films on the list like:
I am Cuba
Le Samourai
Mr. Moulot’s Holiday
Rocco and his Brothers
Le Belle et La Bete
A Man Escaped
The Battle of Algiers

Despite this I am saddened by a list like this actually being published.

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