Sight & Sound

Sight and Sound is a British monthly film magazine published by the British Film Institute (BFI). It conducts the well-known, once-a-decade Sight and Sound Poll of the Greatest Films of All Time, ongoing since 1952.

Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound (2021 logo, black).svg
EditorMike Williams
CategoriesFilm
FrequencyMonthly
PublisherBritish Film Institute
Founded1932; 90 years ago (1932)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon
LanguageEnglish
Websitewww.bfi.org.uk/sight-and-sound
ISSN0037-4806 (print)
2515-5164 (web)

History and contentEdit

Sight and Sound was first published in Spring 1932 as "A quarterly review of modern aids to learning published under the auspices of the British Institute of Adult Education". In 1934 management of the magazine was handed to the nascent British Film Institute (BFI), which still publishes the magazine today.[1] Sight and Sound was published quarterly for most of its history until the early 1990s, apart from a brief run as a monthly publication in the early 1950s, but in 1991 it merged with another BFI publication, the Monthly Film Bulletin, and started to appear monthly.

In 1949, Gavin Lambert, co-founder of film journal Sequence, was hired as the editor, and also brought with him Sequence editor Penelope Houston as assistant editor as well as co-founders and future film directors Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz.[2] Lambert edited the journal until 1956, with Houston taking over as editor until 1990.[3] Philip Dodd became the editor following the merging of Monthly Film Bulletin with Nick James taking over in 1997. James was editor until August 2019.[2] It is currently edited by Mike Williams. The magazine reviews all film releases each month, including those with a limited (art house) release, as opposed to most film magazines which concentrate on those films with a general release.

Sight and Sound has in the past been the subject of criticism, notably from Raymond Durgnat, who often accused it of elitism, puritanism and snobbery, although he did write for it in the 1950s, and again in the 1990s.[4][5] Until 2020, the magazine's American counterpart was Film Comment, a magazine that was published by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City.[6]

The Sight and Sound Poll of the Greatest Films of All TimeEdit

Since 1952, Sight and Sound has asked an international group of film professionals every decade to vote for the ten films they consider the greatest of all time. Until 1992, the votes of the invited critics and directors were compiled to make one list. However, since 1992, directors have been invited to participate in a separate poll.

The Sight and Sound accolade has come to be regarded as one of the most important of the "greatest ever film" polls. The critic Roger Ebert described it as "by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies—the only one most serious movie people take seriously."[7]

Sight and Sound first ran the poll in 1952 following publication earlier in the year of a list of the Top Ten Films, headed by Battleship Potemkin, based on a poll of mostly directors conducted by the committee of the Festival Mondial du Film et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique.[8] Following publication of that poll, Sight and Sound decided to poll film critics for their choices and announced the results in their next issue.[9] 85 critics from Britain, France, the United States, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were asked but only 63 responded including Lindsay Anderson, Lotte H. Eisner, Curtis Harrington, Henri Langlois, Friedrich Luft, Claude Mauriac, Dilys Powell, Jean Queval, Terry Ramsaye, Karel Reisz, G. W. Stonier (under the name William Whitehead) and Archer Winsten. Most critics found the question unfair. The first poll was topped by Bicycle Thieves with 25 out of 63 votes and contained six silent films.[9][10]

The five subsequent polls (1962–2002) were won by Citizen Kane (which finished 13th in 1952).[11]

In 1992, an additional poll of 101 directors took place, with Citizen Kane also receiving the most votes. It also received the most votes from directors in 2002.

For the 2012 poll, Sight and Sound listened to decades of criticism about the lack of diversity of its poll participants and made a huge effort to invite a much wider variety of critics and filmmakers from around the world to participate, taking into account gender, ethnicity, race, geographical region, socioeconomic status, and other kinds of underrepresentation.[12] The list of critics polled expanded significantly from 145 to 846 and Citizen Kane only received the second highest number of votes, with Vertigo receiving the most. The directors' poll also expanded from 108 to 358 directors and Tokyo Story received the most votes with Citizen Kane receiving the joint second-most together with 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 2022, the number of critics polled increased even further from 846 to 1,639 and Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles received the most votes, the first film to top the list directed by a female director.[13] Vertigo received the second most and Citizen Kane third. 2001: A Space Odyssey topped the directors' poll for the first time with Citizen Kane in second place and Tokyo Story in joint fourth together with Jeanne Dielman.

La Règle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game) appeared in the first seven of the magazine's decennial polls. Citizen Kane has appeared in the last seven.

In the 2012 poll, 2,045 different films received at least one mention from one of the 846 critics. Among the directors that participated in 2012 are Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Ken Loach and Francis Ford Coppola.

Critics' Top Ten PollEdit

1952Edit

  1. Bicycle Thieves (25 mentions)
  2. City Lights (19 mentions)
  3. The Gold Rush (19 mentions)
  4. Battleship Potemkin (16 mentions)
  5. Intolerance (12 mentions)
  6. Louisiana Story (12 mentions)
  7. Greed (11 mentions)
  8. Le Jour Se Lève (11 mentions)
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (11 mentions)
  10. Brief Encounter (10 mentions)
  11. The Rules of the Game (10 mentions)
  12. Le Million (10 mentions)

Closest runners-up: Citizen Kane, La Grande Illusion, and The Grapes of Wrath. (9 mentions apiece)

[14]

1962Edit

  1. Citizen Kane (22 mentions)
  2. L'Avventura (20 mentions)
  3. The Rules of the Game (19 mentions)
  4. Greed (17 mentions)
  5. Ugetsu (17 mentions)
  6. Battleship Potemkin (16 mentions)
  7. Bicycle Thieves (16 mentions)
  8. Ivan the Terrible (16 mentions)
  9. La Terra Trema (14 mentions)
  10. L'Atalante (13 mentions)

Closest runners-up: Hiroshima mon amour, Pather Panchali and Zero for Conduct. (11 mentions apiece)

The number of silent films on the list reduced from six to two.[10][15]

Films directed by Sergei Eisenstein received the most votes with 46 followed by Charles Chaplin with 43 and Jean Renoir with 35.[10]

1972Edit

  1. Citizen Kane (32 mentions)
  2. The Rules of the Game (28 mentions)
  3. Battleship Potemkin (16 mentions)
  4. (15 mentions)
  5. L'Avventura (12 mentions)
  6. Persona (12 mentions)
  7. The Passion of Joan of Arc (11 mentions)
  8. The General (10 mentions)
  9. The Magnificent Ambersons (10 mentions)
  10. Ugetsu (9 mentions)
  11. Wild Strawberries (9 mentions)

Closest runners-up: The Gold Rush, Hiroshima mon amour, Ikiru, Ivan the Terrible, Pierrot le Fou, and Vertigo. (8 mentions apiece)

[16]

1982Edit

  1. Citizen Kane (45 mentions)
  2. The Rules of the Game (31 mentions)
  3. Seven Samurai (15 mentions)
  4. Singin' in the Rain (15 mentions)
  5. (14 mentions)
  6. Battleship Potemkin (13 mentions)
  7. L'Avventura (12 mentions)
  8. The Magnificent Ambersons (12 mentions)
  9. Vertigo (12 mentions)
  10. The General (11 mentions)
  11. The Searchers (11 mentions)

Closest runners-up: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Rublev. (10 mentions apiece)

[17]

1992Edit

  1. Citizen Kane (43 mentions)
  2. The Rules of the Game (32 mentions)
  3. Tokyo Story (22 mentions)
  4. Vertigo (18 mentions)
  5. The Searchers (17 mentions)
  6. L'Atalante (15 mentions)
  7. The Passion of Joan of Arc (15 mentions)
  8. Pather Panchali (15 mentions)
  9. Battleship Potemkin (15 mentions)
  10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (14 mentions)

[18]

Closest runners-up: Bicycle Thieves and Singin' in the Rain. (10 mentions apiece)

[19]

2002Edit

  1. Citizen Kane (46 mentions)
  2. Vertigo (41 mentions)
  3. The Rules of the Game (30 mentions)
  4. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (23 mentions)
  5. Tokyo Story (22 mentions)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (21 mentions)
  7. Battleship Potemkin (19 mentions)
  8. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (19 mentions)
  9. (18 mentions)
  10. Singin' in the Rain (17 mentions)

Closest runners-up: Seven Samurai and The Searchers. (15 mentions apiece)

[20]

2012Edit

 
Vertigo (1958), the #1 film according to Sight & Sound in 2012

A new rule was imposed for this ballot: related films that are considered part of a larger whole (e.g. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy and Dekalog, or Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy) were to be treated as separate films for voting purposes.[12]

  1. Vertigo (191 mentions)
  2. Citizen Kane (157 mentions)
  3. Tokyo Story (107 mentions)
  4. The Rules of the Game (100 mentions)
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (93 mentions)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (90 mentions)
  7. The Searchers (78 mentions)
  8. Man with a Movie Camera (68 mentions)
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (65 mentions)
  10. (64 mentions)

Closest runner-up: Battleship Potemkin. (63 mentions)

[21]

2022Edit

The number of participants in this poll nearly doubled to 1,639. Chantal Akerman became the first woman director to win the poll with her 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. The poll reflected greater diversity than previous years with the number of films made by Black film makers increasing from one in 2012 to seven this year and the number made by female film makers increasing from two in 2012 to eleven.[13]

480 directors took part and selected Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as their greatest film. [13]

  1. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
  2. Vertigo
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. Tokyo Story
  5. In the Mood for Love
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  7. Beau Travail
  8. Mulholland Drive
  9. Man with a Movie Camera
  10. Singin' in the Rain

Closest runners-up: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Directors' Top Ten PollEdit

1992Edit

  1. Citizen Kane
  2. Raging Bull
  3. La Strada
  4. L'Atalante
  5. The Godfather
  6. Modern Times
  7. Vertigo
  8. The Godfather Part II
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  10. Rashomon
  11. Seven Samurai

2002Edit

  1. Citizen Kane (42 mentions)
  2. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (28 mentions)
  3. (19 mentions)
  4. Lawrence of Arabia (16 mentions)
  5. Dr. Strangelove (14 mentions)
  6. Bicycle Thieves (13 mentions)
  7. Raging Bull (13 mentions)
  8. Vertigo (13 mentions)
  9. Rashomon (12 mentions)
  10. The Rules of the Game (12 mentions)
  11. Seven Samurai (12 mentions)

2012Edit

  1. Tokyo Story (48 mentions)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (42 mentions)
  3. Citizen Kane (42 mentions)
  4. (40 mentions)
  5. Taxi Driver (34 mentions)
  6. Apocalypse Now (33 mentions)
  7. The Godfather (31 mentions)
  8. Vertigo (31 mentions)
  9. Mirror (30 mentions)
  10. Bicycle Thieves (29 mentions)

[22]

2022Edit

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. The Godfather
  4. Tokyo Story
  5. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
  6. Vertigo
  7. Mirror
  8. Persona
  9. In the Mood for Love
  10. Close-Up

The Greatest Directors of All TimeEdit

 
Orson Welles was selected as the greatest film director of all-time by both critics and filmmakers.

This list was put together by assembling the directors of the individual films that the critics and the directors polled voted for. 2002 was the only year Sight & Sound compiled the list.

Critics' Top Ten PollEdit

2002Edit

  1. Orson Welles
  2. Alfred Hitchcock
  3. Jean-Luc Godard
  4. Jean Renoir
  5. Stanley Kubrick
  6. Akira Kurosawa
  7. Federico Fellini
  8. John Ford
  9. Sergei Eisenstein
  10. Francis Ford Coppola
  11. Yasujiro Ozu

[23]

Directors' Top Ten PollEdit

2002Edit

  1. Orson Welles
  2. Federico Fellini
  3. Akira Kurosawa
  4. Francis Ford Coppola
  5. Alfred Hitchcock
  6. Stanley Kubrick
  7. Billy Wilder
  8. Ingmar Bergman
  9. David Lean
  10. Jean Renoir
  11. Martin Scorsese

[24]

Greatest Documentaries of All TimeEdit

2014Edit

  1. Man with a Movie Camera (100 votes)
  2. Shoah (68 votes)
  3. Sans Soleil (62 votes)
  4. Night and Fog (56 votes)
  5. The Thin Blue Line (49 votes)
  6. Chronique d'un été (32 votes)
  7. Nanook of the North (31 votes)
  8. The Gleaners and I (27 votes)
  9. Dont Look Back (25 votes)
  10. Grey Gardens (25 mentions)

[25]

Greatest film booksEdit

In 2010, Sight & Sound conducted a poll to find the greatest book written on film.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Mastracci, Davide (18 April 2019). "A Guide to Sight & Sound's Film Polls". Medium.
  2. ^ a b Williams, Mike. "90 Years of Sight and Sound". Sight & Sound. No. Summer 2022. p. 39.
  3. ^ "Penelope Houston: Influential editor of 'Sight & Sound' magazine". The Independent. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  4. ^ Miller, Henry K. "Poetry in motion". BFI Film Forever. BFI. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  5. ^ Gough-Yates, Kevin. "Raymond Who?". Raymond Durgnat.com. The Estate of Raymond Durgnat. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Academic journals - Journals and Magazines - film, movie, voice, show, director, cinema, documentary". filmreference.com.
  7. ^ Roger Ebert. "'Citizen Kane' fave film of movie elite". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  8. ^ Lambert, Gavin (July–September 1952). "As You Like It". Sight and Sound. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 2 December 2022 – via Archive.org.
  9. ^ a b "As The Critics Like It". Sight and Sound. October–December 1952. pp. 58–59. Retrieved 2 December 2022 – via Archive.org.
  10. ^ a b c "Top/Ten". Sight & Sound. Vol. 31, no. 1. British Film Institute. Winter 1961–1962. p. 10. Retrieved 3 December 2022 – via Archive.org.
  11. ^ Johnson, Eric C. Sight and Sound Poll 1952: Critics, Caltech.
  12. ^ a b James, Nick (8 June 2021). "How we made the Greatest Films of All Time poll". Sight & Sound. BFI.
  13. ^ a b c "Chantal Akerman first woman to top Sight and Sound's greatest all-time films poll". Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  14. ^ The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1952 [Sight & Sound]
  15. ^ The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1962 [Sight & Sound]
  16. ^ The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1972 [Sight & Sound]
  17. ^ The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1982 [Sight & Sound]
  18. ^ "Film 92 - Sight and Sound survey-dZ4irS x" – via Internet Archive.
  19. ^ The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1992 [Sight & Sound]
  20. ^ The Greatest Films of All Time… in 2002 [Sight & Sound]
  21. ^ "The 100 Greatest Films of All Time". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Directors' Top 100". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. 2012.
  23. ^ "BFI | Sight & Sound | Top Ten Poll 2002 - The Critics' Top Ten Directors". 3 March 2016. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  24. ^ "BFI | Sight & Sound | Top Ten Poll 2002 - The Directors' Top Ten Directors". 13 October 2018. Archived from the original on 13 October 2018.
  25. ^ "The Greatest Documentaries of All Time | Sight & Sound". British Film Institute.
  26. ^ "Sight & Sound's Top Five Film Books".

Further readingEdit

  • Pam Cook and Philip Dodd (eds): Women and Film. A Sight and Sound Reader, London: Scarlet Press, 1994, 287 pp.
  • Jacqueline Louviot: Le regard de Sight and Sound sur le cinéma britannique des années 50 et 60 (What Sight and Sound Saw: Sight and Sound on British Cinema during the Fifties and Sixties), French doctoral thesis, University of Strasbourg II, 1997, 980 pp.
  • David Wilson (ed): Sight and Sound. A Fiftieth Anniversary Selection, London: Faber and Faber in association with BFI Publishing, 1982, 327 pp.

External linksEdit