1001: Movies You Must See Before You Die
Review by Belinda Morris
General editor: Steven Jay Schneider
Updated by: Ian Haydn Smith
(£20, Cassell Illustrated, Octopus Publishing)
This is another of those compilation books guaranteed to have avid movie-goes and passionate film buffs arguing over. The ones left out, the ones included that shouldn’t have been… disagreement is inevitable. As Schneider points out in his introduction, “film criticism is hardly an exact science”. But what’s certain is that this must-watch list is about as up-to-date as it can be (culminating as it does with the fabulous Grand Budapest Hotel) and with 1001 movies to choose from, there will surely be plenty for concurrence. The only problem I can foresee is not actually having quite enough time to see the 800 or so I’ve somehow missed, before I peg it.
Listed chronologically, the great classics are obviously here (The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind etc) but as recent Oscar nominees have been added, other previous film in the line-up obviously had to be jettisoned. Tough job. But all the key genres are here, the major directors, producers, screen-writers, cinematographers and actors are recognised, movies from over 30 countries are included and by no means has the editor opted to favour ‘high art’ over the most populist movies (Saturday Night Fever, Rain Man, Big etc). Undoubtedly you will spot some titles that, quite frankly, are of questionable artistic merit and/or of dubious taste. The reasons for inclusion are obviously given.
Illustrated with film stills, portraits and poster art and complete with all the relevant vital stats (plus a few quirky, surprising facts), this fat tome is great for dipping into and an essential reference tool for pub quiz masters everywhere. Right, just off to the Roxy…