Citizen Kane no longer Greatest Film of All Time according to BFI

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Adam Gregorich, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Adam Gregorich


    Nov 20, 1999
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    The Other Washington
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    From The Hollywood Reporter:

    LONDON – Orson Welles' Citizen Kane no longer enjoys the moniker of greatest film of all time, a plaudit it has held for 50 years.
    The movie has occupied top billing in the British Film Institute published magazine Sight & Sound's once-a-decade international critics’ film poll since 1962. But that crown, according to Sight & Sound's 2012 survey of 846 movie experts who participate, has now passed to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Made in 1958, the psychological suspense drama first entered the Sight & Sound poll in 1982 in seventh place -- two years after its director died. Largely ignored by the critics for most of his career, its rise in the poll is testament to how Hitchcock’s reputation has steadily increased over time. Starring Kim Novak and James Stewart, Vertigo trumped Citizen Kane by 34 votes this time around; it was five votes shy of Kane 10 years ago. And 1941's Kane, second in the survey, also missed out on the top spot in a separate poll of 358 film directors from all over the world, including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Mike Leigh, whose survey chose Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953) as its greatest.
    The critics poll, first conducted in 1952, marks the magazine's seventh and its most ambitious to date.
    The 10-yearly survey aims to rule out fluctuations in taste and asks participants to interpret "greatest" in any way they chose.

    Read the full article here:

    While I'm not sure what I consider to be the greatest film of all time, I don't think either of these would occupy the top slot on my list. What is your greatest film of all time?
  2. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

    Oct 22, 2009
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    Adam, I hope you don't mind me being a little bit of a pedant here, but it's not ther BFI saying this as such - it's the people who took part in the poll.
    Is Vertigo better than Kane? Kane better than Vertigo? It is, of course,impossible to say.
    I'm glad that Vertigo has pipped Kane this time, for onesimple reason. Polls like this only really have one constructive purpose - to stimulate debate.
    Having Kane seen as unquestionably the greatest film ever for so long has stifled debate. Changing the film at the top spot has already stimulated debate.
    Job done.
    Steve W
    ps. Obviously they've got it wrong again - the greatest film ever is A Matter of Life and Death.
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Hell, I don't think Vertigo is Hitchcock's best film so I don't get how it's the best of all-time.

  4. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

    Dec 28, 1998
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    I'm sure that Al Brown / Rich Malloy is happy with this turn of events, where ever he may be at this time. :)
    I would agree with Robert that (while I greatly admire Vertigo) there are other Hitchcock films that I enjoy more; but shaking up the list is fine with me.
    To answer Adam's question - I know what my favorite film is, but to say which film is the greatest is almost impossible. I might have to go with 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    - Walter.
  5. Thomas J.

    Thomas J. Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 19, 1999
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    I think Sight and Sound's ranking system is flawed to begin with considering they don't ask respondents to rank their top 10s, yet Sight and Sound compiles all the ostensibly unranked top-10s into an aggregate top-10. (Correct me if I'm wrong!) For example, let's say every respondent thought film x was one of the top 10 greatest films of all time, so it appeared on all respondents' top 10 lists. Then, Sight and Sound would aggregate all their top-10s, and the final list would display film x as the greatest film of all time, since it received the most mentions having been listed in every top-10 listing, when in fact, all the respondents were actually saying was that there was unanimous decision that film x was among the 10 greatest films of all time, not that it was the best. It could have been unanimously perceived in the minds of the voting block as the 10th greatest film of all time, but would end up ranked as the greatest of all time in the aggregate list anyway. Thus, Sight and Sound has a flawed ranking system, imo.
    Plus, it goes without saying that some respondents didn't even mention Citizen Kane in their top 10s, because they consider it a cliche to do so and want to give other less-heralded films some shine. In effect, they're purposely shying away from mentioning Citizen Kane not to disparage that film but simply to help other films. That's fine, but in light of these flaws when in comes to ranking, we have to caution against taking these kinds of polls too seriously, or at least the ranking. At the end of the day, I get more value out of looking at individual top 10 lists to see what particular people have praised rather than the ultimate aggregate list with all its inherent ranking flaws. I actually really prefer the HTF master list, because it seems fair to simply list all the films that got a few mentions and to treat their ultimate ranking as a very, very rough approximation.
  6. Pete York

    Pete York Supporting Actor

    Dec 1, 2004
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    Well, maybe one other purpose. A publicized list like this WILL expose these movies to someone for the first time. The hardcore movie watchers are dismissing this as a worthless exercise, but that exposes a kind of chauvinism that occurs when you get deep into something: you don't consider those just taking their first steps. It's like when a disc goes OOP, I'll see someone say, "well, anyone who wanted this movie would have bought it by now." Wrong. How about someone who just discovered it yesterday? What a list like this does, whether you're against canons or whatever, it says to the beginner/novice, here's as good a place as any to start and from here you can go off in any direction you want.
  7. Rhett_Y

    Rhett_Y Screenwriter

    May 23, 2001
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    This, I don't either. I actually really like North by Northwest better. But again this is all about opinion and well we all know everyone has one! :)
  8. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member

    Jun 27, 2007
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    Charles Smith
    I would have no objection to, say, a list of "the top 100 must-see films" or anything like that. That would always be a valuable reference -- to me, and I should think to all the same people the current ranking is directed toward. Maybe more than one list -- the "first 100" and the "second 100". Whatever. Then list the films alphabetically or, maybe even better, chronologically, and be done with it. It's the individual ranking that seems utterly pointless and distracting. Winners and losers. Yay, team. Boring and pointless.

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