May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
January 29, 2010
In spring 2009 IMAGE Journal, a top-notch glossy quarterly concerned with “Art, Faith, and Mystery,” joined forces with Arts & Faith, a lively online conversation board with an emphasis on film and, to a lesser degree, music and other arts.
This happy marriage got me thinking of The Arts & Faith 100, since it was an IMAGE list of the Top 100 Books Of The Twentieth Century that triggered the compilation of the first A&F list, a poll that identified the finest of “spiritually significant” motion pictures, according to board participants. Now that four years have passed since last iteration, it’s high time for another such tally. Nominations close January 30, the A&F membership carries out their voting through mid-January, and the finalized list will be announced somewhere in the middle of Academy Award buzz.
Thinking about how this new poll might shape up, plenty of very strong candidates come to mind which couldn’t be considered for the first three lists because they were deemed too recent for inclusion, or hadn’t yet been made or released. Silent Light (“Stellet licht” 2007, Mexico, Reygadas), Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (“Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage” 2005, Germany, Rothemund), The New World (2005, USA, Malick), and Into Great Silence (“Die Große Stille” 2005, France, Gröning) would seem to be near shoe-ins. Also popular with A&Fers would likely be films such as Lars and the Real Girl (2007, USA, Gillespie), Amazing Grace (2006, UK/USA, Apted), L’Enfant (2005, Belgium, Dardenne) and Hawaii, Oslo (2004, Norway, Poppe).
I’d be arguing for Longford (2006, UK/USA, Tom Hooper), Pan’s Labyrinth (“El Laberinto del fauno” 2006, Mexico/Spain, del Toro), Son Of Man (2006, South Africa, Dornford-May), Adam’s Apples (“Adams æbler” 2005, Denmark, Jensen), The Notorious Bettie Page (2005, USA, Harron), Ushpizin (2004, Israel, Dar) and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005, USA, Jones), among others. And I wouldn’t be surprised if such titles as Ostrov (“Остров” “The Island” 2006, USSR, Lungin), The Painted Veil (2006, USA, Curran), Requiem (2006, Germany, Schmid), Stranger Than Fiction (2006, USA, Forster), Dry Season (“Daratt” 2006, Chad, Haroun) or even Superman Returns (2006, USA, Singer) came up in the discussion.
While we wait for A&F 100 #4, there’s much fun to be had poking through the three existing lists. 145 titles made the cut at least once, 52 of which appeared on all three tallies.
With another Filmwell list-refining experiment in my mind, I couldn’t help playing with that list a bit more, figuring out which of the A&F three-timers were most highly acclaimed apart from their “spiritual significance” (a difficult-to-define attribute which was wisely left to individual voters to determine for themselves). Here are the twenty-four films which appear not only on all three editions of the A&F 100, but are also included in at least four of the seven “Great Movies” lists considered in the “Loose Canon” tabulation (with the number of outside list appearances in square brackets). So if you’re looking for another movie-watching project…
Andrei Rublev (1969, USSR, Tarkovsky) 
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966, France/Sweden, Bresson) 
The Bicycle Thief (“Ladri di biciclette” 1948, Italy, De Sica) 
Breaking The Waves (1996, Denmark/etc, von Trier) 
Decalogue (“Dekalog” 1989, Poland, Kieslowski) 
The Diary of a Country Priest (“Journal d’un cure de campagne” 1950, France, Bresson) 
The Elephant Man (1980, USA, Lynch) 
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (“Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo” 1966, Italy, Pasolini) 
Ikiru (1952, Japan, Kurosawa) 
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946, USA, Capra) 
Magnolia (1999, USA, Anderson) 
The Night Of The Hunter (1955, USA, Charles Laughton) 
Ordet (“The Word” 1955, Denmark, Dreyer) 
The Passion Of Joan of Arc (“Le Passion de Jeanne d’Arc” 1928, France, Dreyer) 
Sansho The Bailiff (“Sansho Dayu” 1954, Japan, Mizoguchi) 
Schindler’s List (1993, USA, Spielberg) 
The Seventh Seal (“Det sjunde inseglet” 1956, Sweden, Bergman) 
Solaris (1972, USSR, Tarkovsky) 
Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans (1927, USA, Murnau) 
Three Colours: Blue (“Trois couleurs: Bleu” 1993, Poland/France/Switzerland/UK, Kieslowski) 
Tokyo Story (“Tokyo monogatari” 1953, Japan, Ozu) 
Wild Strawberries (1957, Sweden, Bergman) 
Wings Of Desire (“Der Himmel uber Berlin” 1987, Germany/France, Wenders) 
Yi-Yi (“A One and A Two” 2000, Taiwan/Japan, Yang) 
For the bigger picture, check out Soul Food Movies for the 145 films that have appeared on the A&F 100. (Counts vary: my tabulation groups trilogies, two- and even ten-parters as single titles – Lord Of The Rings, Three Colors, the Apu trilogy, Jean de Florette / Manon des sources, Dekalog)