A week or so ago the internet was all abuzz about the latest edition of a poll which Sight & Sound magazine does every 10 years. The subject of the poll is, "What is the greatest movie of all time?" The latest poll declares that VERTIGO is the "new" greatest movie of all time, replacing CITIZEN KANE, the film which held the top spot in the poll before.
The idea of rating movies as if they were college football teams is pretty silly. This latest poll is a perfect example. If CITIZEN KANE was supposedly already the greatest film of all time, how can another movie made over fifty years ago be better? What happened in the last ten years? Was there some new footage found? Did KANE have points taken off because Orson Welles cheated? Or did the magazine put another movie in the top spot so they could get some cheap publicity?
What's really bothersome about these polls is that a lot of people think that they are somehow "official". How can anyone say with absolute total certainty what is the "greatest" film of all time? Having an individual opinion on your favorite films is one thing. But to have a group of so-called experts declare a certain film the greatest, and to have the media pick up on it and act like it should be set in stone (typical headline: VERTIGO NEW GREATEST FILM EVER) is somewhat arrogant.
By the way, I love VERTIGO. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. But I love it not because a film "expert" told me to love it, or a book or an article did....I love it for my own personal reasons.
A film is only as great as the person who is watching it thinks it is. An appreciation for a film (or any other work of art) shouldn't be influenced by critics, "experts", or bloggers. Don't develop a connection to a film through another person's labeling system. Experience a film with your own eyes...not someone else's.