The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 260-241


260. Rocco and His Brothers (1960) Dir. Luchino Visconti, 177 mins.

Set in Milan, it tells the story of an immigrant family from the South and its disintegration in the society of the industrial North.

259. The Tree of Life (2011) Dir. Terrence Malick, 138 mins.

The first American film to win the Palme d’Or since 2004, Malick’s ambitious experimental epic chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man (Sean Penn) and his childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, particularly his often difficult relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). The family drama is interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth. The film polarised critics with some considering such a philosophical work to be incomprehensible and pretentious, particularly the depiction of evolution, but when the film focuses on the drama of small town domestic life, Malick finds an emotional core, which is helped along by some fine performances and beautiful cinematography. More…

258. Memento (2000) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 113 mins.

The film stars Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a man with anterograde amnesia which renders his brain unable to store new memories.

257. Oldboy (2003) Dir. Chan-Wook Park, 120 mins.

The film follows the story of one Oh Dae-Su, who is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor’s motives. When he is finally released, he is trapped in a web of conspiracy and violence.

256 Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)

255. Memories of Murder (2003) Dir. Joon-ho Bong, 130 mins.

It is based on the true story of Korea’s first serial murders in history, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Watch

254. Unforgiven (1992) Dir. Clint Eastwood, 131 mins.

Eastwood’s revisionist western portrays William Munny (Eastwood himself), an ageing outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming.

253. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Dir. Peter Jackson, 2001.

One of the most critically and commercially successful films of all time, the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy sees the Dark Lord Sauron launching the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth. While it’s epic fantasy with huge battles some of the action is undermined by the supernatural elements and many of the characters lost amongst the massive effects. Jackson also struggles to come up with one fitting ending and yet the film with its colossal scale, surprising detail and emotive soundtrack, remains a visually stunning and powerfully compelling triumph of large scale entertainment and a satisfying ending to a landmark achievement in studio film making. More…

252. Black Narcissus (1947) Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 100 mins.

It is a psychological drama about the emotional tensions of jealousy and lust within a convent of nuns in an isolated valley in the Himalayas.

251. In a Lonely Place (1950) Dir. Nicholas Ray, 94 mins.

Humphrey Bogart stars as Dixon Steele, a troubled screenwriter suspected of murder, and Gloria Grahame co-stars as Laurel Gray, a neighbour who falls under his spell.

250. Marketa Lazarova (1967) Dir. Frantisek Vlacil, 162 mins.

Voted the greatest Czech film of all time, Marketa Lazarova takes place in an indeterminate time during the Middle Ages, and tells the story of a daughter of a feudal lord who is kidnapped by neighbouring robber knights and becomes a mistress of one of them.

249. A Face in the Crowd (1957) Dir. Elia Kazan, 125 mins.

The story centres on a drifter named Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes who is discovered by the producer (Patricia Neal) of a small-market radio program in rural northeast Arkansas. Rhodes ultimately rises to great fame and influence on national television. Watch

248. Kings of the Road (1976) Dir. Wim Wenders, 175 mins.

While travelling his route along the border between East and West Germany, projector repairman Bruno (Rüdiger Vogler) meets paediatrician Robert (Hanns Zischler) when the latter attempts suicide by driving his car into a shallow lake. From such off beginnings, the two form a genuine friendship as Robert accompanies Bruno on the road.

247. Les Vampires (1915) Dir. Louis Feuillade, 399 mins.

Feuillade’s celebrated underworld crime series was made up of ten feature length episodes released monthly. It follows a journalist and his friend who become involved in trying to uncover and stop a bizarre underground Apache gang, known as The Vampires. Elegantly beautiful and exhilarating, the film was despised by many critics when first released but is now revered, particularly the performance of Musidora as Irma Vep. Buy

246. The Thin Blue Line (1988) Dir. Errol Morris, 103 mins.

An investigation of the 1976 murder of a Dallas cop.

245. The Easy Life (1962) Dir. Dino Risi, 115 mins.

The Easy Life (Il Sorpasso) casts Vittorio Gassman as Bruno, a jaded, ageing rogue, who introduces a young withdrawn scholar, Roberto Mariani (Jean-Louis Trintignant) to his hedonistic lifestyle. Previously a man with a purpose in life, Roberto soon becomes as wanton and wastrel as Bruno. The older man is proud of his handiwork, until tragedy strikes. Watch

244. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 137 mins.

It is a cinematic rendition of the story of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Saint Matthew, from the Nativity through the Resurrection.

243. Diary of a Country Priest (1951) Dir. Robert Bresson, 115 mins.

It tells the story of a young, sickly priest, who has been assigned to his first parish, a village in northern France.

242. Blow-Up (1966) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 111 mins.

Blowup is a British-Italian mystery thriller about a fashion photographer, played by David Hemmings, who believes he has unwittingly captured a murder on film. Watch

241 Eureka (2000)

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 200-181


200. Rome, Open City (1945) Dir. Roberto Rossellini, 100 mins.

A harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it. Watch

199. The Passenger (1975) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 126 mins.

Written by Mark Peploe, Peter Wollen and Antonioni, the film is about an Anglo-American journalist, David Locke (Jack Nicholson) who assumes the identity of a dead businessman while working on a documentary in Chad, unaware that he is impersonating an arms dealer with connections to the rebels in the current civil war. Buy

198. WALL-E (2008) Dir. Andrew Stanton, 98 mins.

The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. Watch

197. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Dir. George Miller, 120 mins.

The film is set in a post apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities. It follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army in an armoured tanker truck, which leads to a lengthy road battle. Watch

196. The Last Emperor (1987) Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 160 mins.

The Last Emperor is a visually stunning epic biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bertolucci. Watch

195. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 125 mins.

Based on a true 1972 story, Sidney Lumet’s drama chronicles a unique bank robbery on a hot summer afternoon in New York City. Shortly before closing time, scheming loser Sonny (Al Pacino) and his slow-witted buddy, Sal (John Cazale), burst into a Brooklyn bank for what should be a run-of-the-mill robbery, but everything goes wrong, beginning with the fact that there is almost no money in the bank. Watch

194. Belle de jour (1967) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 101 mins.

Séverine Serizy, a young, beautiful housewife who has masochistic fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage, decides to spend her days as a prostitute while her husband, with whom she has no physical intimacy, is at work. Watch

193. Breaking the Waves (1996) Dir. Lars von Trier, 153 mins.

Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1970s, von Trier’s devastating drama is about an unusual young woman, Bess McNeill, and of the love she has for Jan, her husband, who asks her to have sex with other men when he becomes immobilised from a work accident. Watch

192. La jetee (1962) Dir. Chris Marker, 28 mins.

Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. Watch

191. Let the Right One In (2008) Dir. Tomas Alfredson, 115 mins.

The story centres on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a vampire child, Eli.

190. Three Colors: Red (1994) Dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 99 mins.

A beautiful model named Valentine crosses paths with a retired judge, whose dog she runs over with her car. The lonely judge, she discovers, amuses himself by eavesdropping on all of his neighbours’ phone conversations. Near Valentine’s apartment lives a young man who aspires to be a judge and loves a woman who will betray him.

189. Sherlock Jr. (1924) Dir. Buster Keaton, 45 mins.

Keaton plays the floor sweeper and projectionist of a small-town movie theatre, who in his free time studies to be a detective.

188. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) Dir. Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky, 145 mins.

Shot in black-and-white and composed of thirty-nine languidly paced shots, the film describes the aimlessness and anomie of a small town on the Hungarian plain that falls under the influence of a sinister travelling circus.

187. Woman in the Dunes (1964) Dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 123 mins.

When entomologist Jumpei (Eiji Okada) travels to sand dunes on an expedition, he is met by a group of people who offer him a place to spend the night. They soon lead him to a house at the bottom of a sandpit. Upon climbing into the pit, he finds a young widow (Kyoko Kishida) living alone. Placed there by the villagers, her task is to dig sand out of the pit, not only so that they can avoid getting buried, but so that the locals can use it for construction.

186. The Sacrifice (1986) Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 149 mins.

Starring Erland Josephson, it centres on a middle-aged intellectual who attempts to bargain with God to stop an impending nuclear holocaust.

185. Black Narcissus (1947) Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 100 mins.

It is a psychological drama about the emotional tensions of jealousy and lust within a convent of nuns in an isolated valley in the Himalayas.

184. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 115 mins.

It tells the story of Elliott (Henry Thomas), a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed “E.T.”, who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings help E.T. return to his home planet, while attempting to keep him hidden from their mother and the government.

183. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Dir. Robert Wiene, 72 mins.

Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders.

182. Do the Right Thing (1989) Dir. Spike Lee, 120 mins.

Mookie (Spike Lee) is living in a black and Puerto Rican neighbourhood in Brooklyn with his sister, Jade and works as a pizza delivery man for a local pizzeria. Sal (Danny Aiello), the pizzeria’s Italian-American owner, has been in the neighbourhood for 25 years, but his older son Pino (John Turturro) intensely dislikes blacks, and does not get along with Mookie. Because of this, Pino is at odds with both his father, who refuses to leave the increasingly African-American neighbourhood, and his younger brother Vito (Richard Edson), who is friendly with Mookie. The simmering racial tension culminates in tragedy on a hot summer day.

181. Children of Men (2006) Dir. Alfonso Cuaron, 109 mins.

The film shows a future in which global infertility has left humanity with less than a century to survive.