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50 Films to See Before You Die

30th July 2006

The Sunday Mail from the UK has published a list of “50 Films to See Before You Die.” The list was compiled by David Puttnam (producer of Chariots of Fire and Midnight Express) and others to mark digital channel Film4 going free-to-air.

The list has many of the films that you typically find on such lists, but it also has quite a few that typically don’t. There are some huge gaps as well. There is no overlap with my “Essential Films for Theologians: The ‘Director’s Cut’â€? so the list is clearly flawed! (see also my Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians – Extended Edition)

I have seen over half of the films, so I guess I have a bit of work to do before I die. (I have marked the films I have seen with an “x”)

  1. Apocalypse Now (x)
  2. The Apartment
  3. City of God (x)
  4. Chinatown (x)
  5. Sexy Beast (x)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (x)
  7. North by Northwest
  8. A Bout de Souffle (Breathless)
  9. Donnie Darko (x)
  10. Manhattan
  11. Alien (x)
  12. Lost in Translation (x)
  13. The Shawshank Redemption (x)
  14. Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India
  15. Pulp Fiction (x)
  16. Touch of Evil
  17. Walkabout
  18. Black Narcissus
  19. Boyz’n the Hood (x)
  20. The Player (x)
  21. Come and See
  22. Heavenly Creatures (x)
  23. A Night at the Opera
  24. Erin Brockovich (x)
  25. Trainspotting (x)
  26. The Breakfast Club (x)
  27. Hero (x)
  28. Fanny and Alexander
  29. Pink Flamingos
  30. All About Eve
  31. Scarface (x)
  32. Terminator 2 (x)
  33. Three Colours: Blue (x)
  34. The Royal Tenen-baums (x)
  35. The Ladykillers (x)
  36. Fight Club (x)
  37. The Searchers
  38. Mulholland Drive (x)
  39. The Ipcress File
  40. The King of Comedy
  41. Manhunter (x)
  42. Dawn of the Dead (x)
  43. Princess Mononoke
  44. Raising Arizona (x)
  45. Cabaret
  46. This Sporting Life
  47. Brazil (x)
  48. Aguirre: The Wrath of God
  49. Secrets and Lies (x)
  50. Badlands (x)

(HT Arts and Faith)


4 Responses to “50 Films to See Before You Die”

  1. Matt Page Says:

    Hi Tyler,

    I actually got tpo watch the programme on Channel 4, although I missed the first few so thanks for posting the whole list. I don’t think I’ve seen quite as many as you (28)! It’s a good list, but kind of strange as well. What exactly does 50 films to watch before you die mean exactly? Is it just a fancy title for top 50 films? If so there are some major omissions. Does it take as read that everyone has seen films like The Godfather? If so why include such popular, but forgettable films such as The Shawshank Redemption? If it is trying to bring lesser known films to a wider audience, why have they stuck with such a high percentage of US films?

    But it was a good programme for someone like me that’s seen a lot of the standard stuff, and wants a easy way to get a feel for which of the films they often hear talked about might be worth watching. I’ve already watched Cabaret for the first time as a result of the programme, and there are several more which I’ve thought I really must get around to seeing. However, I can probably live without watching Pink Flamingos before I die…

  2. Loren Rosson Says:

    why include such popular, but forgettable films such as The Shawshank Redemption?

    And why include such atrocities as Fight Club and Terminator 2? There are good films on this list, but some are peculiarly placed for a “top-50″ list.

  3. Steve Martin Says:

    And no Citizen Kane? Incredible.

    The Shawshank Redemption is hardly “forgettable.” It’s one of the finest films of the nineties, IMO. Perhaps this goes to show how many of these kinds of things is a matter of opinion.

    I agree about Terminator 2. As a replacement I’d suggest On the Waterfront, alone for the scene in the car between Charley and Terry (is there a better example of method acting?), not to mention the moralizing of the priest played by Karl Malden against the bosses.

  4. Tyler F. Williams Says:

    Loren, Loren, Loren… Fight Club an “atrocity”? Come now. I actually quite liked it; one of the few times when I liked the movie better than the book.

    I’m not sure if I could stomach Pink Flamingos either, Matt. Watching Divine just isn’t my cup of tea!