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Vertigo unseats Citizen Kane at top of new Sight & Sound critics poll

Directors poll is led by Ozu’s Tokyo Story.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo has dethroned Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane at the top of Sight & Sound magazine’s Greatest Film poll.

Citizen Kane had been the winner of the poll, which is conducted every decade, since 1962. It now drops to second place. Vertigo entered the Sight & Sound poll in 1982 in seventh place (two years after Hitchcock’s death); the rise to the top “is testament to how Hitchcock’s reputation has steadily increased over time,” the magazine noted.

In Sight & Sound’s separate poll of 358 film directors, Kane is again knocked off the top by Ozu’s Tokyo Story. Citizen Kane and 2001: A Space Odyssey tie for second position. Directors voting include Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Francis Ford Coppola.

In the critics poll, two new films to make the top ten are both silent – Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera at number 8 (which marks the first documentary to make the Top Ten since 1952), and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc at 9.

Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, which had been in the top 10 for the poll’s 60 past years, now drops.

This year’s biggest-ever survey polled 846 international film critics, programmers and academics. Ten years ago, Sight & Sound polled only 144 critics.

Nick James, Editor of Sight & Sound, said: “This result reflects changes in the culture of film criticism. The new cinephilia seems to be not so much about films that strive to be great art, such as Citizen Kane, and that use cinema’s entire arsenal of effects to make a grand statement, but more about works that have personal meaning to the critic. Vertigo is the ultimate critics’ film because it is a dreamlike film about people who are not sure who they are but who are busy reconstructing themselves and each other to fit a kind of cinema ideal of the ideal soul mate. In that sense it’s a makeover film full of spellbinding moments of awful poignancy that show how foolish, tender and cruel we can be when we’re in love.”

The full results are published in Sight & Sound’s September issue (on sale Aug 4), which celebrates the publication’s 80th anniversary with a new-look relaunch. The full results can be found at bfi.org.uk/sightsoundpoll2012.

The BFI Southbank will have a season of screenings from the top 10 throughout September. The Vertigo triumph comes as the BFI is also kicking off its Genius of Hitchcock season.

The Critics’ Top Ten Greatest Films of All Time are:

1 Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)

2 Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

3 Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

4 La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939)

5 Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)

6 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)

7 The Searchers (Ford, 1956)

8 Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

9 The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)

10 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

The Directors’ Top Ten Greatest Films of All Time are:  

1 Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

2 001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)

2 Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

4 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

5 Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1980)

6 Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)

7 The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

7 Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)

9 Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)

10 Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)

 

 

Readers' comments (2)

  • I would add David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia should be right up the top of that list. Todays critics may take a different slant in view of the subject matter.
    Nevertheless for me it is easily the greatest movie ever made by a long margin and am surprised it doesnt make the top ten.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Watched Vertigo last week-end having not seen it for many years - superb work by Mr Hitchcock - the Wonderful James Stewart, the Beautiful Kim Novak and the talented Barbara Bel Geddes

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