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The Pendragon Society

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest films (2018) 960-941


960. Bambi (1942) Dir. David Hand, 70 mins.

With splendid animation the film tells the touching story of male deer Bambi from his birth, through to his early childhood experiences and particularly his memorable friendship with Thumper the rabbit. The tale takes a tragic turn with the traumatic loss of his mother at the hands of hunters and moves on to him falling in love and battling to save his friends from a forest fire. Was placed 3rd in the animation category of the AFI’s 10 Top 10 in 2008.

959. The Tin Drum (1979) Dir. Volker Schlondorff, 142 mins.

Already considered to be at the forefront of New German Cinema, Schlondorff took home an Oscar for best foreign film for his controversial adaptation of Gunter Gross’s allegorical novel of the same name. David Bennent plays Oskar, the young son of a German rural family, who receives a shiny new tin drum for his 3rd birthday. Seeing around him an unkind world full of miserable adults, Oskar vows never to grow any older or bigger. This eccentric and intense film has such startling images it’s hard for any viewer to turn away from.

958. A Short Film About Love (1988) Dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 86 mins.

A Short Film About Love is one of two episodes of Kieslowski’s The Decalogue TV series, that focused on the Ten Commandments, to be expanded for a cinema release. The film is about a shy young post office worker who spies on a promiscuous older woman living in an adjacent apartment building and falls deeply in love with her. There’s some beautiful and funny moments and it helped set Kieslowski on the road to international prominence.

957. Fallen Angels (1995) Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, 90 mins.

Sometimes frustrating but often visually exhilarating Wong Kar-Wai’s film expands on the themes and mood of Chungking Express while focusing more on style than the two loosely linked and minimal plot lines.

956. The Birth of a Nation (1915) Dir. D. W. Griffith, 190 mins.

Griffith’s twelve reel epic Civil War drama hastened the American film industry’s transition to the feature film but is also notable for its highly controversial portrayal of black men as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women, and for glorifying the Ku Klux Klan. While The Birth of a Nation has garnered acclaim for the acting, the impressive spectacle and its innovative film making techniques Griffiths spent the rest of his career seemingly apologising for the blatant racism. 

955. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) Dir. Fritz Lang, 122 mins.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge returns as Dr. Mabuse who, while imprisoned in an insane asylum, continues on with his plots to destroy the world. Beautiful, powerful and with a great deal of suspense the film is Lang at his most inventive.

954. The Secret in their Eyes (2009) Dir. Juan José Campanella, 127 mins.

The Argentine-Spanish crime drama depicts a judiciary employee and a judge in 1974 as they investigate a rape and murder case that turns into an obsession for all the people involved, while also following the characters 25 years later reminiscing over the case and unearthing the buried romance between them. Full of excellent performances and with an unpredictable narrative, the film is well on its way to becoming a classic of world cinema. It placed 91st on the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.

953. Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) Dir. Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 104 mins.

Louise Brooks stars, in the second of her two films with Pabst,  as the innocent, naive daughter of a pharmacist who becomes puzzled when on the day of her confirmation their housekeeper, Elisabeth, leaves suddenly. It turns out she is pregnant with the pharmacist’s baby and later that day appears to have committed suicide. Brooks is a beautiful and compelling presence that helps lift the film from lurid melodrama into the realm of haunting human drama.

952. Taste of Cherry (1997) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 95 mins.

Mr Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), a middle-aged man, drives through a city suburb looking for someone who can burying him after he commits suicide in return for a large amount of money. While Roger Ebert, in particular, hated the film others consider it hypnotic and profound.

951. The Little Mermaid (1989) Dir. Ron Clements, John Musker, 83 mins.

Based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid tells the story of a beautiful mermaid princess called Ariel who dreams of becoming human. After a string of critical and commercial failures for Disney, the film marked the start of the studios renaissance. A live-action film adaptation of The Little Mermaid is currently in the works.

950. Pride & Prejudice (2005) Dir. Joe Wright, 129 mins.

Keira Knightley stars as Elizabeth Bennet, in a version of Jane Austen’s hugely popular romance, as one of five sisters from an English family of landed gentry who must deal with issues of marriage, morality and misconceptions. Despite the numerous adaptations of the novel, the film feels surprisingly fresh combining 21st century sensibilities with an authentic look.

949. Dark City (1998) Dir. Alex Proyas, 100 mins.

Somewhat overshadowed by The Matrix which was released the following year, Proyas’s neo-noir sci-fi follows an amnesiac man who finds himself suspected of murder. He attempts to discover his true identity and clear his name while on the run from the police and a mysterious group known only as the “Strangers”.  It’s visionary to some and bewildering to others but few could argue that it doesn’t contain some startling and arresting imagery.

948. Cloud Atlas (2012) Dir. Tom Tykwer, The Wachowskis, 164 mins.

This hugely ambitious science fiction epic was one of the most expensive independent films ever made. Adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell, the film has multiple plots set across six different eras exploring how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. While some may be baffled by the narrative it’s hard to ignore the epic scope, stunning visuals and big ideas. It also benefits greatly from repeat viewings.

947. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) Dir. Wes Anderson, 91 mins.

Three brothers reunite on board a train called The Darjeeling Limited, having not seen each other since their father’s funeral a year earlier. They travel through a stunning Indian backdrop hoping to re-connect. While probably not Anderson’s best work, it is funny, melancholic and has a great soundtrack, particularly the songs by The Kinks.

946. Stray Dog (1949) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 122 mins.

Notable as a precursor to the contemporary police procedural and buddy cop film genres, Akira Kurosawa’s crime drama also shows consideration for the difficult period of Japanese postwar recovery. Regular Kurosawa collaborators Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura star as the rookie and the veteran detectives in a visually strong and complex film.

945. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 180 mins.

Based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort the film recounts Belfort’s perspective on his career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm Stratton Oakmont engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street that ultimately led to his downfall. Leonardo Di Caprio makes for a funny and magnetically charming Belfort in a film that received criticism for glorifying the crime while shying away from the true consequences of such criminality.

944. JFK (1991) Dir. Oliver Stone, 189 mins.

Accused of taking liberties with historical facts, Stone’s examination of the events leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the alleged cover-up was always going to be controversial. Kevin Costner leads a terrific cast as former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison who is convinced that there are some big flaws in the investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald. Leaving to one side the questionable historicity, JFK works as an entertaining and well crafted conspiracy theory.

943. 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.

942. Dirty Harry (1971) Dir. Don Siegel, 102 mins.

Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco Police Department Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Drawing upon the actual infamous case of the Zodiac Killer, Callahan seeks out a similarly mysterious and vicious psychopath. A hugely entertaining and violent action thriller directed competently by Don Siegel.

941. Salvatore Giuliano (1962) Dir. Francesco Rosi, 125 mins.

Shot in a neo-realist documentary, non-linear style, it follows the lives of those involved with the famous Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano, who remains mostly off screen. Seen as groundbreaking in political cinema, Rosi’s film is both mysterious and open ended but also features a gritty, raw realism.