The greatest film of all time has been chosen by experts

Daisy Phillipson

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The greatest film of all time has been chosen by experts

Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Paradise Films/Unité Trois / Album / Alamy Stock Photo

A groundbreaking film has been voted the greatest of all time by a group of experts.

The British Film Institute's Sight and Sound poll is widely regarded to be one of the most esteemed cinema ranking polls.

Every decade, hundreds of critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics come together to create a list of 'The Greatest Films of All Time'.

This year's edition is the eighth of its kind, with the BFI revealing that it was its largest ever, with 1,639 experts participating.

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo was the 2012 winner of the poll. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo
Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo was the 2012 winner of the poll. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

Before we get to the new number one, let's take a look at the previous reigning champion.

In 2012, Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 mystery thriller Vertigo was named the greatest movie of all time, pleasing fans of the famed director across the globe.

Many were left wondering if the late filmmaker would hold onto the title this year, considering Orson Welles' Citizen Kane was previously voted number one twice in a row.

The short answer is no.

Instead of Vertigo, the 1975 drama with the lengthy title of Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles has been hailed the best film ever.

The movie, which was previously described by The New York Times as 'a masterpiece', centres on a ritual-obsessed, widowed housewife who does her daily chores, takes care of the apartment she shares with her teenage son and occasionally sleeps with clients to make ends meet.

But when a few small changes to her routine end in something she's never experienced, it threatens what she knows her life to be.

One of the major talking points about its recent rise to the top of the BFI's poll is that it was created by the late Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, making her the first woman to have earned the title in 70 years.

Lillian Crawford, a film critic and writer who contributed to the poll, spoke to the BBC about the movie, describing it as an 'essential' work in the world of feminist cinema.

"Jeanne Dielman isn't a film that I would say to someone getting into cinema, 'Oh, this is the first film you absolutely must see'," she explained.

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"I think if you're going to work through the list, maybe do it in reverse order and sort of build towards it, because it's quite an ask to invite people to see this.

"But in an academic sense and thinking about cinema and encouraging more people to seek out experimental film, films by women, and in terms of the history of feminist cinema, this is absolutely the sort of essential text."

Elsewhere, film theorist Laura Mulvey wrote in an article for the BFI that the film's 'rise to the top now is a triumph for women’s cinema'.

"The arrival of Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the top of the 2022 Sight and Sound poll signals an amazing shift in critical taste," she said.

"Given the status of the poll, the film will attract a new audience, drawn, first of all, by curiosity to this latest addition to the list of great films of cinema history.

"And then, held enthralled by the extraordinarily daring cinema of a great woman director."

Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV, World News

Daisy Phillipson
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