Luke McKernan

Luke McKernan

Moving Image Curator, British Library
Voted in the critics poll

Voted for:

aveugle de Jérusalem, L' 1908 Louis Feuillade
Battle of the Somme, The 1916 J.B. McDowell/Geoffrey Malins
Big Swallow, The 1901 James Williamson
Free Radicals 1958 Len Lye
Lady of the Dugout, The 1918 W.S. Van Dyke
Le village de Namo - Panorama pris d'une chaise à porteurs Gabriel Veyre
Me at the Zoo Yakov Lapitsky
Roundhay Garden Scene 1888 Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince
Spare Time 1939 Humphrey Jennings
Topsy-Turvy 1999 Mike Leigh


I no longer know what makes a great film, nor how a film can stay great, since so many that I once revered have dulled through familiarity, while others previously spurned suddenely startle with unexpected brilliance when seen again. The films I have chosen are not so much the ‘best’, rather films that I could not imagine being done any better. Each is innovative in its own way, which may explain the bias towards early films – all the good ideas were fresh then. The earliest title in my selection is a motion picture older than film itself that ushered in a new way of seeing the world. The newest was the first title to appear on YouTube, the symbolic moment when the medium reinvented itself beyond ‘film’.