10 Top Films of Iran and the World as chosen by Iranian critics:
The Complex Society of Iran…
by Mehrzad Danesh

A total of 92 Iranian critics took part in a poll conducted in September 2009 by Film magazine with Behzad Rahimiyan as guest editor in chief and the critics were asked to choose 10 top Iranian and foreign films they had seen in their lives. In Iranian cinema, like the world cinema, top movies are selected from time to time by film experts and the results have been always attractive to film buffs. If this occurred for the world cinema for the first time in 1952 and during an international exhibition in Brussels, the Movie Star monthly did it for the first time in Iran in 1971. In that poll, Vertigo, Rosemary’s Baby and 2001: A Space Odyssey were on top of the list. However, a year later, Film quarterly repeated the poll on the Iranian films with Dariush Mehrjui’s The Cow (1969) ranking the first. A similar poll was conducted in 1978 by a newspaper as a result of which the top film was Sohrab Shahid Sales’ Still Life (1975)...

The third poll was conducted in September 2009 with a higher number of participants; that is, 92 critics and firm writers. During the past decade, many film writers have been writing critiques on films and Film magazine officials chose those where have been more serious and more exact or who have been doing this for a long period of time. The result of the above poll is as follows:

The Deer

Iranian films:
1. The Deer (Massoud Kimiaei, 1975), 28.5 points;
2. Bashu, the Little Stranger (Bahram Baizai, 1989), 28 points;
3. Sute-Delan (Ali Hatami, 1977), 22 points;
4. About Elli (Asghar Farhadi, 2009), 20 points;
5. Hamoon (Dariush Mehrjui, 1990), 19.5 points;
6. Deadlock (Amir Naderi, 1973), 18.5 points;
The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, 1969), 18.5 points;
Captain Khorshid (Nasser Taqvai, 1987), 18 points;
9. One Upon a Time Cinema (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1992), 17 points;
10. Tranquility in the Presence of Others (Nasser Taqvai, 1973), 16 points;
Beehive (Fereidoun Goleh, 1975), 16 points;


Foreign films:
1. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959), 25 points;
2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941), 23 points;
3. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953) 18 points;
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942), 18 points;
5. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954), 15 points;
6. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948), 14 points;
7. The Road (Federico Fellini, 1954), 12 points;
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959), 12 points;
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968), 12 points;
10. Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957), 9 points;
Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988), 9 points;
The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939), 9 points.

Now, three polls on the best films of Iran and the world are available for the past three decades. A comparison of the above results will reveal interesting points.
1. If, in the first poll, most votes were given to classic works of cinema (both in Iran and the world), it could have been attributed to two factors. Firstly, the post-revolution cinema of Iran was young and secondly, due to post-revolution limitations, many film buffs did no have access to new films and most foreign films chosen dated back to before 1970s. However, similar results were repeated in the second poll, though a few contemporary films had been added to the list. The most amazing was the result of the third poll which still shows predominance of classic Iranian and foreign films. Are Iranian critics and film writers too nostalgic? At the same time, the new generation of film critics watches the latest movies and few of them spend time on watching old films. However, even the young critics have voted for the old classic films. This led to protests and some claimed that this has not been the real choice of young critics, but they have chosen those films in order to gain credit with pioneer film critics. Some also noted that the result was due to high number of old critics who cannot relate to the modern cinema and are still attached to their old favorites. There are also other possibilities. Some old critics are well abreast of the modern cinema, but they believe that the cinema is no longer alive and compared to a few decades ago, it has nothing to give viewers but violence and sex. This opinion, however, has been rejected by many younger critics. On the other hand, some critics did not play by the rules of the game and by choosing, for example, 200 films tried to evade the test. Therefore, their votes were not counted in the final roundup. Apart from the said 92 critics, there are many other critics whose names are not on the list of participants in the poll for various reasons. Perhaps if they had taken part in the poll, the result would have been quite different.


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