Doors – "The End" (1967)

Ride the snake, ride the snake

To the lake, the ancient lake

The snake, he’s long

Seven miles

Ride the snake

He’s old and his skin is cold

As I noted in the previous 2 or 3 lines, the British Film Institute’s 2022 “100 Greatest Films of All Times” list omits Nashville, The Wild Bunch, The Godfather Part II and several other films that anyone with half a brain would agree belong on the “100 Greatest” list.

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The movie that was ranked #1 by the BFI’s 2022 voters is one that I’ve never heard of – much less seen.  I would bet dollars to donuts that you’ve never heard of it either.  

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles – a 1975 film that was written and directed by a 25-year-old Belgian woman, Chantal Akerman – barely cracked the top forty on the BFI 2012 list.   But ten years later, it was ranked #1. 

Chantal Akerman

What explains the sudden ascension of this rather obscure movie to the top of the new list – replacing Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which in turn had replaced Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane?  

 Obviously Jeanne Dielman was the same movie in 2022 that it was in 2012.  What changed in those ten years was the BFI electorate. 

The BFI sent ballots to 800-odd film critics, programmers, and academics in 2012, but invited twice as many to vote in 2022. 

The new 2022 voters apparently included a lot of politically correct  types who gave more weight to diversity than to any other criteria. 

“It’s high time a woman won,” one British critic wrote, explaining his vote for Jeanne Dielman – and probably explaining why that film ended up in the top spot of the “100 Greatest Films” list.

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As noted above, I’ve never heard of Jeanne Dielman, much less watched it.

I did find a four-minute clip from the movie on Youtube tonight and watched it.  That four-minute scene consists of a static shot of movie’s title character preparing a couple of breaded veal cutlets for dinner.

Jeanne Dielman preparing veal cutlets

First, she dredges the cutlets in flour.  Then she dips them in the whisked egg.  Then she coats the cutlets with breadcrumbs.  Finally, she covers the dish containing the cutlets with a sheet of aluminum foil and put the dish in her refrigerator.

Click here to watch that scene.

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From the reviews of it that I’ve read, Jeanne Dielman consists of roughly three hours of similarly banal scenes leading up to the disclosure of an awful secret.

I had hoped to watch the movie before publishing this post so I could tell you whether the ending justifies the three tedious hours that precede it.  Unfortunately, my local public library – which is not only the biggest and most well-funded library in the state of Maryland, but also as woke a library as you would ever hope to find – doesn’t own a DVD of Jeanne Dielman.  

So I’ve made a request through the state’s interlibrary loan network, and will hopefully be able to offer my thoughts on Jeanne Dielman in the near future.

“Why didn’t you just buy a copy of the movie, you cheap bast*rd?” I can hear you saying to yourself.

No way, dude.  It’s enough of a sacrifice that I’m going to spend three-plus hours of my life that I’ll never get back watching Jeanne Dielman – no chance I’m going to spend my own do-re-mi.

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“The End” – which was released in 1967 on the Doors’ eponymous debut album – is about 12 minutes of not very much happening.  You could say it’s the classic-rock equivalent of Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.  

A special remix of the recording was featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now, which came in at #19 of the BFI “100 Greatest Movies” list.  Apocalypse Now has it moments, but you are out of your pea-pickin’ mind if you think it’s better than Coppola’s Godfather Part II.

Better than Apocalypse Now?  You bet it is! 

But that wasn’t the only time the BFI voters picked the wrong movie by the right director.  For example, they picked three Stanley Kubrick movies for the “100 Greatest” list: The Shining, Barry Lyndon, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  But Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket and Clockwork Orange should have been ranked ahead of those movies.  

Hell, I might even rank Eyes Wide Shut and Lolita – hot messes, both of them – above 2001.  A friend of mine once ascribed the legendary status of 2001 to the fact that almost everyone who saw when it was first released (which was 1968) went to the theatre high, and I think he was 100% correctimundo.

Click here to listen to “The End.”

Click here to buy the record from Amazon.

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