The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 320-301


320. The Ascent (1977) Dir. Larisa Shepitko, 111 mins.

Two Soviet partisans depart their starving band on a short march to a nearby farm to get supplies. The Germans have reached the farm first, so the pair must go on a journey deep into occupied territory, a voyage that will also take them deep into their souls. Buy

319. Diabolique (1955) Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot, 116 mins.

The story blends elements of thriller and horror, with the plot focusing on a woman and her husband’s mistress who conspire to murder the man. After the crime is committed, however, his body disappears, and a number of strange occurrences ensue. Watch

318. Saving Private Ryan (1998) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 170 mins.

It follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last-surviving brother of four servicemen.

317. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Dir. Arthur Penn, 112 mins.

The film follows Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the notorious bank robbers who operated in the central United States during the Great Depression. The couple meet when Clyde (Warren Beatty) tries to steal Bonnie’s mother’s car. Controversial due to the excessive violence, it is seen as one of the first of the New Hollywood Era.

316. Trouble in Paradise (1932) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 83 mins.

Based on the 1931 play The Honest Finder by Hungarian playwright László Aladár, the film is about a gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket who join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Buy

315. Floating Clouds (1955) Dir. Mikio Naruse, 123 mins.

Based on a novel of the same name by Japanese author and poet Fumiko Hayashi, the film is set after World War II and contains the common post-war theme of wandering. It follows Yukiko Koda, a woman who, having just returned to post-war Japan from French Indochina, struggles to find where she belongs and ends up floating endlessly about.

314. Killer of Sheep (1977) Dir. Charles Burnett, 83 mins.

The drama depicts the culture of urban African-Americans in Los Angeles’ Watts district.

313. Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) Dir. Agnes Varda, 90 mins.

Shot in real time, the story starts with a young singer, Florence “Cléo” Victoire (Corinne Marchand), at 5pm on June 21, as she waits until 6:30pm to hear the results of a medical test that will possibly confirm a diagnosis of cancer. A stark drama which addresses feminist issues in a curiously oblique fashion.

312. Red Desert (1964) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 120 mins.

Written by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, the film is about a woman trying to survive in the modern world of cultural neurosis and existential doubt.

311. Ivan’s Childhood (1962) Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 95 mins.

Ivan’s Childhood tells the story of orphan boy Ivan and his experiences during World War II.

310. Charulata (1964) Dir. Satyajit Ray, 117 mins.

This film by Satyajit Ray, India’s most renowned filmmaker, tells the story of Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), a woman in late 19th-century Calcutta. She is neglected by her busy husband, Bhupati (Shailen Mukherjee), a politically active newspaper publisher.

309. We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974) Dir. Ettore Scola, 124 mins.

Stefania Sandrelli plays the longtime object of three friends’ affections. The film traces the interrelationships of those friends, Vittorio Gassman, Nino Manfredi and Satta Flores, over a period of thirty years, beginning with their involvement in the wartime Resistance. Buy

308. The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) Dir. Wojciech Has, 182 mins.

Based on the novel by Jan Potocki and set during the Napoleonic Wars, two officers from opposing sides find a manuscript in a deserted house, which tells the tale of the Spanish officer’s grandfather, Alphonso van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski). Van Worden travelled in the region many years before, being plagued by evil spirits, and meeting such figures as a Qabalist, a sultan and a gypsy, who tell him further stories, many of which intertwine and interrelate with one another.

307. Samurai Rebellion (1967) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 128 mins.

Considered one of the best samurai films ever made, Toshiro Mifune is electric as the masterful swordsmen who goes against his local rulers to protect his family. It’s a meditative and gripping film which ends with an action packed and tragic finale.

306. Dersu Uzala (1975) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 144 mins.

The film is based on the 1923 memoir Dersu Uzala (which took its name from the native trapper) by Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev, about his exploration of the Sikhote-Alin region of the Russian Far East over the course of multiple expeditions in the early 20th century. Buy

305. Rififi (1955) Dir. Jules Dassin, 122 mins.

Directed by American blacklisted filmmaker Jules Dassin, the film stars Jean Servais as the ageing gangster Tony “le Stéphanois”, Carl Möhner as Jo “le Suédois”, Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Dassin, himself, as César “le Milanais”. The foursome band together to commit an almost impossible theft, the burglary of an exclusive jewellery shop on the Rue de Rivoli. The centrepiece of the film is an intricate half-hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music.

304 Love Streams (1984)

303. La Notte (1961) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 122 mins.

With the success of L’avventura, Antonioni was given access to larger budgets and the opportunity to work with international stars. With La Notte the star of his previous film, Monica Vitti is joined by the languid Marcello Mastroianni and morose Jeanne Moreau. Filmed on location in Milan, the film is about a day in the life of an unfaithful married couple and their deteriorating relationship. As with L’Avventura, Antonioni’s bold modernism struck a chord with the new young audience for art cinema.

302. Army of Shadows (1969) Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 145 mins.

Army of Shadows follows a small group of Resistance fighters as they move between safe houses, work with the Allied forces, kill informers and attempt to evade the capture and execution that they know is their most likely fate.

301. Tale of Tales (1979) Dir. Yuriy Norshteyn, 29 mins.

Named as the greatest animation of all time by a large international jury in 1984, Tale of Tales, like Tarkovsky’s Mirror, attempts to structure itself like a human memory. The film follows a little wolf of Russian folklore who reflects the animator’s burden of keeping the past alive. A masterpiece of cinematic poetry, the graceful and expressive sequences recall Pushkin, the World Wars and childhood loss of innocence.

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 220-201


220. Tristana (1970) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 105 mins.

After the death of her mother, Tristana goes to live with her guardian Don Lope, who seduces her. She runs away from Lope with a young artist named Horacio. Unable to commit to Horacio and in need of health care due to her growing cancer, Tristana returns to Don Lope. Watch

219. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Dir. Roman Polanski, 136 mins.

The film chronicles the story of a pregnant woman who suspects that an evil cult wants to take her baby for use in their rituals. Watch

218. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Dir. Ang Lee, 120 mins.

In the early 19th century, martial arts master Li Mu Bai is about to retire and enter a life of meditation, though he quietly longs to avenge the death of his master, who was killed by Jade Fox. Watch

217. Raise the Red Lantern (1991) Dir. Yimou Zhang, 125 mins.

Set in the 1920s, the film tells the story of a young woman who becomes one of the concubines of a wealthy man during the Warlord Era. Watch

216. Umberto D. (1952) Dir. Vittorio De Sica, 89 mins.

The film follows Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti), a poor elderly man in Rome who is desperately trying to keep his rented room. His landlady (Lina Gennari) is evicting him, and his only true friends, the housemaid (Maria-Pia Casilio) and his dog Flike (called ‘Flag’ in some subtitled versions of the film) are of no help. Remarkably most of the actors, including Battisti, were non-professional. Watch

215. The Life of Oharu (1952) Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 148 mins.

The Life of Oharu is a fictional black and white historical film starring Kinuyo Tanaka as Oharu, a one-time concubine of a daimyō (and mother of a later daimyō) who struggles to escape the stigma of having been forced into prostitution by her father. Watch

214. Amelie (2001) Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 122 mins.

It tells the story of a shy waitress (Audrey Tautou), who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation. Buy

213. 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…

212. The Forgotten Ones (1950) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 85 mins.

The story concerns a gang of juvenile delinquents, whose sole redeeming quality is their apparent devotion to one another. Watch

211. 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

210. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) Dir. Orson Welles, 88 mins.

Welles adapted Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1918 novel, about the declining fortunes of a proud Midwestern family and the social changes brought by the automobile age.

209. L.A. Confidential (1997) Dir. Curtis Hanson, 138 mins.

The film tells the story of a group of LAPD officers in 1953, and the intersection of police corruption and Hollywood celebrity.

208. The Matrix (1999) Dir. The Wachowskis, 136 mins.

It depicts a dystopian future in which human life as perceived by most people is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer Neo (Keanu Reeves) learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world.”

207. Saving Private Ryan (1998) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 170 mins.

It follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last-surviving brother of four servicemen.

206. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Dir. James Cameron, 137 mins.

Terminator 2 follows Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her ten-year-old son John (Edward Furlong) as they are pursued by a new, more advanced Terminator, the liquid metal, shapeshifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick), sent back in time to kill John and prevent him from becoming the leader of the human resistance. A second, less advanced Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is also sent back in time to protect John. James Cameron delivers with state of the art effects and an exciting narrative.

205. A Prophet (2009) Dir. Jacques Audiard, 155 mins.

The film stars Tahar Rahim in the title role as an imprisoned petty criminal of Algerian origins who rises in the inmate hierarchy, becoming an assassin and drug trafficker as he initiates himself into the Corsican and then Muslim subcultures.

204. 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.

203. 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…

202. Eraserhead (1977) Dir. David Lynch, 89 mins.

It tells the story of Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), who is left to care for his grossly deformed child in a desolate industrial landscape. Throughout the film, Spencer experiences dreams or hallucinations, featuring his child and the Lady in the Radiator.

201. Boyhood (2014) Dir. Richard Linklater, 163 mins.

Filmed from 2002 to 2013, Boyhood depicts the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans Jr. (Coltrane) from ages six to eighteen as he grows up in Texas with divorced parents (Arquette and Hawke).