I’ve recently been engrossed in Roger Ebert’s published collection of essays entitled The Great Movies. He was not a fan of lists, and this essay collection—along with his entries into the Sight and Sound poll—pretty much acted as his only dabblings in list-making. The “great movies” of Ebert’s selection consisted of about 360 or so films ranging from Giovanni Pastrone’s 1914 silent epic Cabiria and ending with 2008’s beautifully quaint Japanese masterpiece from Yōjirō Takita, Departures. These essays, therefore, were not meant to act as a cool countdown list; they were not even supposed to be comprehensive—there were a lot of great movies that Ebert didn’t write about (though he likely would have if he hadn’t passed away). This collection, was instead to act as a tour, as it were, through the staples of a truly competent movie-connoisseur.
I have also compiled a list. My initial list on this blog was 200 movies long and was constantly being changed. It was also very concerned with film placement. I was often caught in a triangular connundrum: I would like one movie better than another, so it would be placed higher on the list. However, a third movie, which I considered to be inferior to the second and would therefore be placed lower on the list, would throw everything off because it was a movie I considered to be better than the first. It was a strange, yet very real phenomenon. Enough of these trilateral dilemmas pile up to really impact the overall list. I would be constantly bothered by this.
So, I decided I would scrap the initial list and move to a new list much more similar to the “great movies” collection of Mr. Ebert. My list would be an alphabetically-ordered compilation of 400 great movies. However, I also had problem with this. I didn’t like the fact that this list did not demonstrate how much I loved Citizen Kane, City Lights, The Seventh Seal, Tokyo Story, Vertigo, or The Searchers. It caused me to lose my ability as an individual with preferences and opinions. But, I also couldn’t get rid of the list, because there have been so many great films made and so many of them deserve recognition on this blog. So, I wrote up what now exists as The FilmSage’s Top Films List.
Despite publication of the list, I still wanted to give the top movies their just due, so I decided to resort back to the numbered, countdown format. BUT I would not allow myself to get really caught up in rankings. I would make a series of three videos that showed a list of 300 films leading up to Citizen Kane. I wouldn’t get too caught up in where a movie was ranked, focusing instead on how it looked or felt in this video compilation. The movies would, therefore, be listed not so much as a countdown, but as a gradually-increasing wave of cinematic masterpieces demonstrating the magnificent tapestry of film and its history leading up to the greatest film of all time: the 1941 zenith of Kane.
I hope that publishing these videos now will coincide liberally with my still-continuing essay series on Citizen Kane, acting as a helpful companion piece to support my claim and encourage viewership of the film.