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Three years ago, BBC Culture ran its first major critics’ poll, to find the 100 greatest American films. Two further polls looked for the best films of the 21st Century and the greatest comedies ever made – and those also ended up with films from the US in the top spot.

This year, we felt it was time to direct the spotlight away from Hollywood and celebrate the best cinema from around the world. We asked critics to vote for their favorite movies made primarily in a language other than English. The result is BBC Culture’s 100 greatest foreign-language films.

(I have put an asterisk against films I have seen. Some I have watched again and again-b)

100. Landscape in the Mist (Theo Angelopoulos, 1988)
99. *Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958)
98. In the Heat of the Sun (Jiang Wen, 1994)
97. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)
96. Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
95. Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse, 1955)
94. Where Is the Friend’s Home? (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987)
93. Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991)
92. Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)
91. Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955)
90. *Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)
89. *Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
88. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1939)
87. *The Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)
86. La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)
85. *Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica, 1952)
84. *The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
83. *La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)
82. *Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
81. Celine and Julie go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
80. *The Young and the Damned (Luis Buñuel, 1950)
79. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
78. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
77. *The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)
76. Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001)
75. *Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)
74. *Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
73. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
72. *Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
71. Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai, 1997)
70. L’Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)
69. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)
68. *Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
67. *The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962)
66. *Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)
65. *Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)
64.*Three Colours: Blue (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993)
63. Spring in a Small Town (Fei Mu, 1948)
62. Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1973)
61. *Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)
60. Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
59. Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
58. *The Earrings of Madame de… (Max Ophüls, 1953)
57. Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)
56. Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai, 1994)
55. *Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962)
54. Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee, 1994)
53. *Late Spring (Yasujirô Ozu, 1949)
52. *Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
51. *The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
50. *L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)
49. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
48. *Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961)
47. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
46. *Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)
45. *L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)
44. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962)
43. *Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
42. City of God (Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund, 2002)
41. To Live (Zhang Yimou, 1994)
40. *Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
39. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
38. A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991)
37. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
36. *La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
35. The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963)
34. *Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)
33. *Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
32. All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999)
31. *The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
30. *The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
29. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
28. *Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
27. The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973)
26. Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)
25. Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
24. *Battleship Potemkin (Sergei M Eisenstein, 1925)
23. *The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
22. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
21. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
20. The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974)
19. *The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
18. A City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1989)
17. *Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)
16. *Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
15. *Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
14. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
13. *M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
12. Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige, 1993)
11. *Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
10. *La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
9. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
8. *The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
7. *8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
6. *Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
5. *The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
4. *Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
3. *Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
2. *Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
1. *Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
(Ack: BBC/culture/story)

There are some that I have not seen; also are some films that ought to have been included. Well what I have missed would not make my life less complete; nor would critic’s missed make my enjoyment any less. I am thankful for all the films that consumed my thoughts, enriched my world and for memories.
Benny

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When society is taking a severe beating and old moral values are thrown as rubbish, do we pretend we are untouched by what happens about us? Or do we burrow into the huddled masses and hope for a miracle? Ignorance is bliss but that cannot save us. In one man’s loss lay some one else gain. (Poor Hillary. Her loss is gain for the one who occupies the WH.) I did not mean of those at a cut above. Ordinary people like us  who achieved a certain comfortable standing in life advanced while unknown to us quite a few fell back. I can remember a few who started with me in primary school and those who did not make it. Do we have anything to do with it? Directly no. Yet the social forces that helped us did not help them. Some vulnerable school mates settled for whatever they could pick up. That is fact of life in which they were helpless as indifferent we were since we were occupied with our own progress in life.

Whenever we tend to worry about our safety and security we need to see some monsters are out there shaped by tragedies while we survived. In my own case my trust in God gives me certain assurance: whatever happens it can only touch my body or material circumstances. ‘A thousand shall fall at thy side, and  ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” We need not tempt God using this as a guarantee. If it is God’s will let it be so. If a saint of God should perish he shall be ever with the Lord.” That is our strength. In whichever case we should be watchful we do not edge out others because they are weaker or less privileged than us.  Whether up or down we are all brothers at arms and we do not sell our souls for some privileges that do not define us, really.

benny

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Great Scenes from a few movie classics are discussed here. The first is All Quiet etc.,

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) is one of the early sound films that can truly be classed as the first major anti-war film and anticipated La Grande Illusion of Jean Renoir by seven years. The film was based upon the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque who had experienced the war first-hand as a young German soldier. This landmark epic film, made on a large-scale budget of $1.25 million for Universal Pictures was a critical and financial success – the grainy black and white film is still not dated and the film hasn’t lost its initial impact. From four Academy Award nominations, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture (the third winner in the history of AMPAS) and Best Director (Lewis Milestone with his first sound feature), and it was also nominated for Best Writing Achievement (George Abbott, Maxwell Anderson, and Del Andrews) and Best Cinematography (Arthur Edeson). Smarting from war wounds naturally the Nazi government of the 30s denounced
The film for its anti-militaristic tone and till 1956 it was banned in Italy.
This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war…

Unlike Remarque’s novel that begins with the young men already at war, with flashbacks to earlier times, the film is told in a logical, chronological fashion. The content of the film can be divided into four distinct parts:

1. the pre-war education of schoolboys, and the enlistment of the young German recruits
2. the soldiers’ arrival at the front of World War I
3. the experiences of the cruelties and horrors of war in trench warfare
4. the hero’s homecoming, return to the front, and ultimate death

The film is episodic and in a series of vignettes and scenes we are given a soldier’s point of view which conveys the senselessness of war. We have quite a few war films, including Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), and Saving Private Ryan (1998)  from the point of view of the cannon fodder who shall find no glory on the battlefield, meeting only death and disillusionment. The soldier sums up his view poignantly,  “ And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death”.
This film is singular in giving it from a young German’s point of view and not from grandstand of the Allies. Whichever point of view you take will not make the war smell any more fresh than the blackest heart of the warmonger. Kaiser and Hitler sent raw recruits to the eye of the storm and they held consultations with generals over maps, and do you think they ever gave a thought to the common soldier?
Tjaden: “Me and the Kaiser, we are both fighting. The only difference is the Kaiser isn’t here!”

Finally let me give one of the most memorable scenes from the film. How shall one give a soldier’s untimely death its grandeur? Would a pool of blood express it in proper measure?  There is no heroism that can adequately express his life when it is taken from him. He obeys higher authority to kill and if he is killed it is only bad luck.  Even in final scene just before Armistice is declared the soldier shows us he has been subjected to the most wretched experience any man can impose on another, and yet he has not lost the purity of his soul. It may be as fragile as a butterfly enjoying a brief moment of sunshine. In his reaching out for it we know it is so. For one brief moment of clarity he is connected to it as an equal : both are vulnerable and not proof against the hazards of life.
“ In the unforgettable final moments of this film, just before the “all quiet on the western front” armistice and with all of his comrades gone, soldiers are bailing water out of a dilapidated trench. The faint sound of a harmonica can be heard. Paul (Lew Ayres), a young German soldier, is sitting alone, daydreaming inside the trench on a seemingly peaceful, bright day. He is exhausted by terror and boredom. Through the gunhole of his trench, he sees a beautiful lone butterfly that has alighted just beyond his reach next to a discarded tin can outside the parapet. He begins to carefully reach out over the protection of his bunker with his hand to grasp it, momentarily forgetting the danger that is ever-present. As he stretches his hand out yearning for its beauty, a distant French sniper prepares to take careful aim through a scope on a rifle. As he leans out closer to the fragile butterfly and extends his hand, suddenly the sharp whining sound of a shot is heard. Paul’s hand jerks back, twitches for a moment and then goes limp in death. All is silent and quiet. The harmonica tune stops”.(ack: tim dirks-filmsite.org)
benny

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Fellini film Otto e mezzo- 81/2
Wellspring of this film is in the childhood. The adage ‘Child is the father of man,’ bears true in creative process. Guido cannot separate his interior life from his film, which he cannot yet organize into something that can be set in cinematic idiom. What are the pleasures of Guido’s secret childhood to the viewer unless it is set in a language that he or she can identify? Two images of Guido associated with his bath: Guido as a child from the wine press is washed and borne to his bed warmed already. In his daydream as an adult the same bath scene is altered. His wife Louisa with whom his relationship is anything but smooth makes it as a matter of escape mechanism. When she says it took her twenty years to learn patience ( to serve her husband’s every whim) we know his interior life has lost its creditability since it cannot add anything to the reality of his role as a director. Such escapism is not what an artist can organize to his advantage.
The dichotomy of man and director who uses his experience as a way out creates la bella confusione (a beautiful confusion )
Another episode also is telling: the entire episode of Guido’s interview with the cardinal in the baths. The bathers in toga remind one of Roman senate in the time of Imperial Rome. State and the Church are but examples that Guido could have learned from. The Church with her clear cut dictum( drawn from Origen) ought to have taught Guido to be ruthless to save himself from being cut adrift by self indulgence. Instead of using his childhood memories to cast an artistic scaffolding to hold his cinematic material together, his childishness shows up his inability to organize his interior life.
(By the way The Saraghina episode is brilliant.)
benny

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