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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

AFI Revised 100 Years...100 Movies Holds Citizen Kane as the Greatest

The American Film Institute has released a revised edition of 100 Years...100 Movies. Citizen Kane retains its place as the greatest American movie of all time. Not a surprise since critics and film historians have come to the same conclusion ever since these kind of lists began. What may be of surprise are the films that have been dropped from the original list of ten years ago, and which films have taken their place.

The obvious question is how is this list determined? Well, by a select jury, of course. A group of critics, historians, and aficionados were asked to consider specific criteria in their selection process. First of all, each film is required to be of feature length (a minimum of 60 minutes), and in English with significant creative and/or financial production from the United States (that's what makes this an "American" list). There are some films on the list which appear to be British-made, but don't call fowl. These few films were predominately financed by American studios.

Jurors were also asked to consider critical recognition, such as formal commendation in print, which could be favorable reviews by notable critics. Television recognition was also a concern, such as coverage by well known review shows. Also included in this specific consideration was digital media, such as blogs by notable film figures such as Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. But the consideration doesn't stop there. Major award winners of competitive events (peer groups, critics, guilds, and major film festivals) are equally as important as is sustained popularity as represented by box office, cable airings, and DVD/VHS sales and rentals. And finally, there is consideration of the historical significance and cultural impact a film has had upon American society in matters of style and substance.

That's certainly a lot to consider. Which makes it even more amazing that the list is limited to just 100, since it's hard to imagine a group of jurors coming to an absolute consensus on such varying qualifications. Especially since there are so many changes from the 1998 list of 100, which includes 36 improved rankings, 38 declining in status, and a total of 23 films dropped completely (amazingly enough, three films were able to maintain there ranking). I don't know if the jurors of 2007 consisted of the same individuals as ten years ago, but it sure goes to show that tastes change when increased reflection plays a part on judgement.

To view a complete list of the top 100 go to the official AFI page for the 2007 selectees. I'm sure you'll be pleased with some of the choices and appalled by others. Possibly you'll be upset by the omission of a personal favorite, or pleased with a beloved film's inclusion. Either way, each list is a terrific resource for films to view. If you've already seen each and every one, congratulations. But if you haven't then you better get started catching up on your cinematic education. After all, it's important to be informed of an art mediums past in order to appreciate its present and future. Happy viewing!

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