June 25, 2024

The Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time survey is conducted every 10 years, and aims to determine a list of 100 films from approximately 1,600 film critics and academics. Every 10 years there are some films that rise up the list, some that fall, and some that suddenly appear or find themselves cut. Piece Citizen Kane the fame was because it topped the list for 50 years, however vertigo He replaced it in 2012, and then Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels He took first place in 2022.

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Given Citizen Kane and vertigo it lasts about two hours, and Jeanne Dielman clocks in at over three hours, you might be forgiven for thinking that critics polled prefer longer films. In fact, films of all lengths are considered for the polls, with some short films making the list, and many feature films under 90 minutes appearing on the list. Here are some of the best movies under 90 minutes from the Sight & Sound poll, for the curious moviegoer who may be pressed for time.


10 Modern Times (1936)

Charlie Chaplin in 'Modern Times'

Charlie Chaplin it should be the greatest movie – or at least one of them Modern times. It was his last silent film, though with some limited dialogue here and there, it’s certainly not 100% silent… but ultimately his story of technology changing the world can be seen as a commentary on the advent of sound-changing cinema.

Like many of Chaplin’s films, it has a simple but compelling story and plenty of timeless humour, which is also well balanced with emotional and sensitive content. Another Chaplin classic, City LightsIt also appears in the Sight & Sound Top 100 as of 2022, and coincidentally, both clock in at just under an hour and a half, at 87 minutes each.

9 ‘Bicycle Thieves’ (1948)

Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola look at each other in Bicycle Thieves
Image via Ente Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche

Character-driven dramas rarely get simpler and tougher than that Bicycle Thieves, perhaps the definitive film of the Italian Neorealism movement. It follows a father struggling to provide for his family in post-World War II Italy, who finds his job in jeopardy after his bicycle is stolen, which sets him and his young son on a quest to find out who took it and to recover it.

Its simplicity can make it boring, but it doesn’t succeed in how natural the performances are and how perfectly explored the film’s universal emotions are. It also has no risk of getting its premise right, which is only 89 minutes long.

8 ‘The Person’ (1966)

A boy looking at a woman in 'Persona'

Surprisingly, the only one Ingmar Bergman the film enters the Sight & Sound Top 100 list: 1966 The person. It is also notable for being one of Bergman’s shortest films, with a duration of only 83 minutes, and as such stands out among epic lengths. Fanny and Alexander and Scenes from a wedding (both also have longer miniseries editions).

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It’s a twisted psychological thriller – and maybe even twisted – that focuses on two women: a nurse and an actress. The former is asked to look after the latter, but their meeting changes each woman’s life forever as their personalities soon begin to merge, or so it seems. It’s a strange film, but one that’s hard to forget, and it achieves a lot in its short running time.

7 “The General” (1926)

Buster Keaton playing an alien on a train

with Chaplin, Buster Keaton he is easily one of the most popular filmmakers/actors of the silent era. He was behind some of the biggest and most important films of early cinema, although when it comes to deciding which of his films is the best, few can measure up. the general in terms of invention and entertainment value.

It’s a real mix of genres, generally including action, comedy and romance, as well as being set during the US Civil War. Keaton plays a young man who must rescue the love of his life and his train from the film’s villains, much of this 67-minute long film plays out like one long chase scene, filled with physical comedy and gore-filled gore.

6 ‘La Jetée’ (1962)


Among the most essential short films of all time would have to be 1962 La Jetée, which still feels unique and revolutionary 60 years after its release. It is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film that takes place after a devastating World War III and involves traveling to the past to relive memories in the hope that it can answer questions about the future.

Time travel eventually becomes involved, making it much more complex than many full-length feature films, however La Jetée It’s only 28 minutes long. It’s also notable for its presentation, which is a series of still images that, in their short duration, look like a particularly cinematic (and moving) slide show.

5 ‘Man with a movie camera’ (1929)

Man with a movie camera

A man with a film camera is a pioneering documentary film, although what it aims to explain on paper is very simple. At 68 minutes long, it covers urban life throughout the Soviet Union in the 1920s, without any real narrative, and certainly not focused on specific characters or themes.

However, it is very attractive because the visuals are incredibly creative and the whole assembly is quite ingenious. It has the reputation of being one of the most famous Russian films of all time – documentary or otherwise – and it certainly lives up to that reputation, holding up as a great film nearly a century later.

4 ‘Rashomon’ (1950)

Akira Kurosawa he made many great films in his long career, culminating in two most recent Sight & Sound polls. Oddly enough, one of those movies… Seven Samurai – is his longest, and the other – Rashomon – ranks among his shortest films.

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just 88 minutes Rashomon he doesn’t waste much time, and in fact he tells a story from multiple perspectives to show how complex memory can be, and how reliable eyewitnesses can sometimes be. It helped put Kurosawa and Japanese cinema in general on the world map in the early 1950s, so it easily wins the top 100 films of all time list.

3 ‘The Gleaners & I’ (2000)

collectors and i
Image courtesy of Agnés Varda

Agnès Varda he made numerous feature films in his decade-long career, although he is best known for his documentaries. The Gleaners and me is a documentary that follows Varda as she interviews several harvesters: those who collect the produce left behind by the harvesters.

Thanks to Varda’s style and warm personality, it ends up being an endearing and entertaining documentary, even if it doesn’t look like much on paper. It is proof that any subject can be used for the main theme of the documentary, if the documentarian is skilled enough to make it interesting to the audience.

2 ‘Evening nets’ (1943)


Evening networks It is the shortest film on Sight and Sound’s final list, lasting just 14 minutes. It’s an exploration of dreams and, perhaps, alternating reality/timelines that repeats the strange visions of a single woman, offering viewers little indication of what exactly the film’s purpose is.

But that’s not the point, because it’s one of those experimental films that expects the audience to find its meaning in what they see playing out on screen. This approach could be lazy or boring on the part of the filmmaker if his film was dark and boring, but fortunately, Evening networks Anything but boring, it’s a surreal journey worth taking with incredible style and mesmerizingly memorable images. Also, the short runtime makes for easier re-watching.

1 ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (1988)

Catbus Totoro and Satsuke smiling in My Neighbor Totoro.

Spirited Away is likely the most popular Hayao Miyazaki A film on the Sight and Sound list, but there’s another shorter film by the great director that makes it into the top 100: My neighbor Totoro. It follows two young girls who move to the countryside with their father and then befriend strange spirits in a nearby forest.

It’s a charming animated film that is likely to appeal to young and old audiences in equal measure. It’s only 86 minutes long, which is the perfect length for a film with a simple yet visually complex narrative.

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