Best of Sight & Sound

Every ten years, the British film magazine Sight & Sound conducts a broad survey of more than 1,000 filmmakers and critics around the world to find out the best films of all time. We offer you a nice selection of the top films.

Tokyo Story (1953)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
137′
The Hirayamas travel from their hometown of Onomichi to Tokyo to visit their adult children. But the younger generation make them feel more in the way than welcome. It also emerges that their son’s career as a doctor and their daughter’s as a hairdresser are nowhere near as successful as the couple were led to believe from afar. The only one who really makes an effort to spend time with them is their daughter-in-law, Noriko, the widow of the Hirayama’s son who went missing in the war. On the journey home, mother Hirayama is taken seriously ill and the couple have to make an unscheduled stop in Osaka, where another of their adult children lives. In a succinct, objective and non-judgemental manner, Yasujirō Ozu uses images which are as simple as they are magnificent to tell the story of family estrangement and the isolation inherent in modern society. Ozu himself considered Tōky ō Monogatari his "masterpiece" and the 1963 Retrospective of the Berlin International Film Festival, the "film-historical screenings", was dedicated to him. This is the international premiere of the digitally restored version made by Japanese production company Shochiku.
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The final part of Yasujiro Ozu’s loosely connected ‘Noriko’ trilogy is a devastating story of elderly grandparents brushed aside by their self-involved family.
Rashomon shows us impossibility of understanding the world and the inability of discovering the truth – those are, at first sight, European existential values, but they were brought to cinema by its Eastern film director. — Gulnara Abikeyeva
The mirror - Zerkalo (1975)
Andrei Tarkowski
Russia
107′
Alyosha, a 40-year-old filmmaker, falls seriously ill. He remembers his past and collects the memories that marked his life: the house of his childhood, his mother waiting for the improbable return of her husband, the poems of his father, his wife and his son that he has not seen for a long time, the tumult of the Second World War.
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The most personal of Andrey Tarkovsky’s movies, in The Mirror he found a poetic equivalent for the verses of his father Arseny Tarkovsky and convinced the world of the immortality of the great Russian artistic tradition. - Peter Shepotinnik
A young boy and a girl decide to emigrate from Senegal to France in search of a better life. They travel around the country on a motorbike trying various schemes to raise the money for the trip.
Parajanov’s lyrical evocation of the life of the 18th century Armenian poet Harutyan Sayatyan uses symbolic imagery patterned after Armenian icons and the folk theatre traditions of masque and mime, and is told through a series of titled episodes.
Via several dramatic and fantastic stories set in 16th century feudal Japan, Ugetsu monogatari is a film of extraordinary power and accuracy about the human condition. The greatest of Japanese filmmakers, in his films Mizoguchi expresses perfectly the universality of an art that is however rooted in Japanese culture and history. It is the apogee of film classicism. — Olivier Pere
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Sergej M. Eisenstein
Russia
49′
The revolution film par excellence, here in the German needle-tone version of 1930: The film presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers. Battleship Potemkin was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. In 2012, the British Film Institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time.
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A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Sergei Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.
Andrei Rublev is a strongest story about the artist – the suffering of the creator and creation. Tarkovski made the individual story of Rubljov much bigger then it was in reality until finally it is like a symbol, an archetype of the artist and his relationships with power and absolutist authority. I also like the visual language of the film. The scene with bells is one of the greatest in history of the cinema. — Tiina Lok
Stalker is a genius melancholy utopist’s filmic fever-dream come true. — Michel Lipkes
Banshun - Late Spring (1949)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
108′
Twenty-seven-year-old Noriko lives with her widowed father, a university professor, in a small house in the tranquil surroundings of northern Kamakura. He is completing a scientific manuscript, aided by his assistant, Hattori. Professor Sonomiya is concerned for his daughter s welfare, and one day suggests she marry Hattori. Noriko only laughs at his suggestion because she is quite happy with her life and knows that Hattori is already engaged. Her aunt Masa, the professor s sister, is the next person to try out her matchmaking skills, and she talks Noriko into meeting Mr Satake. Although Noriko quite likes him, she rejects all thoughts of marriage because she doesn t want to leave her father all alone. When she meets Professor Onodera, an old friend of her father s, in a museum one day and he tells her that he has just remarried, Noriko can hardly disguise her dismay. One of Ozu's favorite themes is the opposing desires of and friction between members of a family even though they feel deep affection and loyalty to each other. Inevitably, these interactions within a family, and particularly the problems which arise between parents and children, will result in some sort of separation. For Noriko it is the separation of marriage, in other Ozu stories it may mean being employed away from home or death. While Ozu is saddened by these events, he also recognizes that they are unavoidable. This awareness of the inherent transience and sadness of human existence is what the Japanese call mono no aware." Beverley Bare Buehrer
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Yasujiro Ozu’s exploration of the relationship between a widower and his unmarried adult daughter is often described as the perfect distillation of his style. Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara star.
Sansho Dayu - Sanshi the Bailiff (1954)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
124′
Sansho Dayu is a film about a couple of children from a rich house at the end of the 12th century who fall into the hands of the bailiff. He owes his reputation as an exemplary feudal lord to the merciless exploitation of his slave army. Mizoguchi fluently tells this old legend of need and revenge in beautiful pictures.
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This sweeping historical tragedy about two children separated from their parents and sold into slavery continued a run of late masterpieces from Kenji Mizoguchi.