Last Sunday, in the Observer special supplement on European cinema, we published a list of 25 films from across the continent that we felt were essential viewing in these tumultuous times.
Compiled by Observer critics Mark Kermode, Simran Hans, Wendy Ide, Guy Lodge and Jonathan Romney, and edited down to the final 25 by me, the list ran in chronological order from 1922 (Nosferatu) to 2017 (On Body and Soul), taking in masterpieces from France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Greece and the UK along the way.
Kermode - Intro - Attempt - Canon - Achievements
This wasn’t, as Kermode stated in his intro, “an attempt to create a critical canon that singles out the finest achievements in Euro-cinema”. Rather, it was a personal selection of films that we hoped would “give a flavour of the dazzling breadth of European cinema, offering a tiny snapshot of a vast cinematic landscape”.
To say this prompted a lively discussion in the comments section would be an understatement, as our cinephile readers rushed in to praise the list and take it to task. Omissions were decried (“What, no [Krzysztof] Kieślowski?”) and alternative suggestions provided, triggering a cascade of wonderful recommendations that carried us far beyond the initial 25.
Debate - Film - Society - Comments
We were delighted, too, by the spirited debate it provoked about what constitutes a great European film and what these works tell us about the society we live in. Here are some of the comments that stood out for us.
It’s refreshing to see a list that reflects unashamedly thoughtful, personal choices without banging any particular drum. Nice, too, to see some of the more obvious choices swerved – Jean-Luc Godard especially. Everyone will want to add their contribution – mine would be Kieślowski, whose later work represents the most sustained meditation on the idea of Europe in all of cinema. Agnes Varda, too, seems worth a shout. That said, good...
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