Passion of Joan of Arc

Carl Theodor Dreyer

The film was considered a lost masterpiece, till a print was rediscovered in a mental asylum in the 1980s. Dreyer is said to have reconstructed the castle in which the trial of St. Joan was held at great expense. But, his obsessive close ups never allow us to get a glimpse of the sets — only the faces of the protagonists. The film is memorable for the camera movements and the wonderful acting of Maria Falconetti, a French vaudeville actress, in her sole film appearance.

Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock

A leisurely psychological film set in the catholic part of San Francisco, about a detective’s obsessive love for a women who is long dead. The use of location and colours and Kim Novak’s superb acting (supported by James Stewart) makes Vertigo Hitchcock’s finest film.

M

Fritz Lang

The story of a child murderer (played by Peter Lorre) who is hunted by both the police and the criminals. The rich allusions of the film — doppelganger theme, mark of Caine — along with wonderful cross cutting between the police and the criminals makes this one of the finest films of the German expressionist era.

Zero de conduit

Jean Vigo

It is difficult to believe that a director who made hardly a handful of films could be so influential. In particular, Lindsay Anderson’s If was strongly influenced by Zero de conduit. The magic realism of Vigo’s boarding school revolt makes this short film a classic.

La’Avventura

Michelangelo Antonioni

The film is about the disappearance of a woman and how the subsequent search for her leads to love and betrayal. Hitchcock said, after seeing the film, that this is how he conceptualised films should be made.

Those that almost made it

Day of Wrath: Carl Dreyer

Forbidden Games: Rene Clemont

The General: Buster Keaton

The Gold Rush: Charles Chaplin

Zakir Husain is an associate professor of Economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.