Virginie Sélavy

Editor, Electric Sheep

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Cabinet of Dr Caligari, The

1919

Robert Wiene

Colour of Pomegranates, The

1968

Sergei Parajanov

Daisies

1966

Vera Chytilová

Eyes Without a Face

1960

Georges Franju

Freaks

1932

Tod Browning

Kwaidan

1964

Kobayashi Masaki

Seventh Seal, The

1957

Ingmar Bergman

Suspiria

1977

Dario Argento

Topo, El

1970

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Werckmeister Harmonies, The

2000

Béla Tarr

Comments

A game of chess against the Grim Reaper, plague victims and self-flagellating supplicants, the Dark Ages done in metaphysical black and white – it is easy to forget that The Seventh Seal is as full of life as it is full of death. Joyous, anarchic and subversive, Chytilová’s Daisies uniquely channels the spirit of Dada through two mischievous female characters. A black-clad gunslinger goes through a violent mystical initiation in ththeis baroque, visionary Western El Topo, which is streaked with anarchic humour. In The Werckmeister Harmonies, a small town is plunged into permanent fog and a sense of impending doom, of an apocalypse coming. Light and shadows conjure up emotions that go beyond words, and the hauntingly beautiful music is a melancholy reminder of what has been lost. Eyes Without a Face is a gruesomely poetic creator-and-monster tale, with the wonderful Edith Scob as the frail, elfin, disfigured daughter of a criminal surgeon, eerily sad and beautiful in her white mask as she wanders through the dark house she can never leave. Suspiria is all murderous stained glass, blood-red sets, pulsing, pounding goblin sounds and an atmosphere of oppressive malevolence so thick and sticky you could cut it with a knife. The Colour of Pomegranates is a magical, mind-expanding cine-poem bursting with rich colours, textures and sensations. Somnambulism, hypnotism, a wide-eyed, contorted Conrad Veidt, strangely angled sets, a warped perspective – The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is the distorted landscape of a diseased mind or of a world that is out of kilter. Tod Browning’s heart was always on the side of the aberrant and the abnormal, and there is real tenderness for the malformed circus performers at the centre of Freaks, his still-unsettling masterpiece of the grotesque. Kwaidan is an exquisitely crafted collection of ghost stories in which we learn that the dead should not be feared but consoled, and that telling ghost stories may cause you to lose your soul in a cup of tea.

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