I love film. I always have. I have an emotional connection to cinema far beyond any other art form. And it is not just about what ends up being committed to celluloid. I have always been intrigued by the process from pre to post production and what happens behind the camera. Growing up my heroes were the writers, production designers, cinematographers, sound designers, stunt men, special effects artists and of course the directors. This love has been at times unconditional. My tastes are broad and eclectic, from European Art House films to Bruckheimer Blockbusters. Recently I have felt, to quote the great Jackie Chan, that my focus needs more focus.
And hence my quest for Crucial Cinema begins. A Big Screen Bucket List of sorts. So where to start? There are no end of lists of critically acclaimed movies.
There have been many great books on the subject such as Jason Schneider's excellent 1001 Movies To See Before You Die, the wonderful and highly recommended Defining Moments In Movies, Leonard Maltin's 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen and Roger Ebert's Four Star Reviews (1967-2007).
There are the entertainment media's lists such as Yahoo's 100 Movies To See Before You Die, The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made or Time Out London's 100 Best British Films.
Then there are the industry lists, usually voted on by a panel of experts including actors, directors, writers and movie insiders. It is on the last category that I plan to start my journey, specifically the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies and the British Film Institute's BFI 100, the anglo-american angle suiting me particularly well.
To assemble my list I started with the 1998 and 2007 AFI lists. There were a total of 23 movies that were dropped and a new 23 added in 2007 and only 5 movies in common with the BFI list. Combining the 3 gave me a ranked list of 218 Crucial Movies. An before you ask, yes, I do realize that this ignores the great wealth of international and world cinema but I save that for a future voyage, this maiden one will be somewhat biased.
I won't be setting myself some sensational goal such as watching all 218 in 218 days, or even in one year, as that would defeat my real purpose here which is to see and truly enjoy each of these classics and to document my experience here. I have seen 92 of the 218 films at some point in my life already but I plan to work my way through the entire list in reverse order.
So wish me luck and a safe trip........
"But our trip was different. It was to be a classic affirmation of everything right and true in the national character. A gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country. But only for those with true grit."