What To Make Of Empire’s List Of The Top 301 Films Of All Time.

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We covered the Sight And Sound Top 10 so what the hell…

Empire has played an important part in the development of many a British cinephile. While outgrowing it is arguably as much a part of coming of age as discovering the UK’s most popular and accessible film magazine, it’s undeniably a part of the landscape of our national film culture. The magazine last month celebrated their 300th issue, a milestone for sure, while this month’s 301st issue, published tomorrow, features a list of the 301 Greatest Films Of All Time, as voted for by their readers.

Fittingly the magazine’s (apparently unintentional) namesake, The Empire Strikes Back came top, vertigo-ing The Godfather, which came in at #1 last time around. Coincidental title aside, Empire magazine and Star Wars are synonymous with one another, and it’s an apt, worthy winner (even if it is only the third best Star Wars film if you ask me). Indeed, it became a bit of a running joke in the days before superhero blockbusters aplenty that Empire would constantly feature Star Wars on their cover with incredulous regularity (funnily enough similar complaints re-covers now being dominated by superhero movies are now a constant). Empire’s affection for George Lucas’s franchise sits at the heart of everything the magazine stands for and is associated with.

Pierrot Le Fou. Possibly not featuring in Empire's Top 301.
Pierrot Le Fou. Possibly not featuring in Empire’s Top 301.

I didn’t vote, as I don’t read the magazine often enough to be aware of the fact that this was happening (coupled with the fact that I did submit a poll in 2008, when they did a similar thing, in which my #1 choice, Pierrot Le Fou, didn’t even make the top 500 – disillusion reigns). And while seeing films like Michael Bay’s Transformers and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus placing in something purporting to be a ‘best of’ list invites snark it’s important to remember that at one point the 12 year-old me might have felt similarly about a film that the 31 year-old me would sneer at. The readership for Empire is an eclectic one, with the magazine part gateway read, part airport pick up, with a great deal of their audience the kind of casual reader that might feel overwhelmed by Sight And Sound or Film Comment.

I look forward to taking a look at the complete list of 301 films tomorrow (though it’s online now). Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for further commentary.

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