Apr 192012


Salon.com recently published an interesting piece called “Movies for a desert island”. In this piece the author picked the 10 single feature films, 1 short, and 1 self-contained TV season, they would have if they were shipwrecked.

I thought it might be fun to put together my own list. Check it out after the jump!

Below are the rules copied from the Salon article.

Here are the rules:

1. This list is composed solely of motion pictures and TV shows. Music, books, paintings and other media are not included. It is assumed that you’ll have an indestructible DVD player with a solar-recharging power source, so let’s not get bogged down in refrigerator logic, mm’kay?

2. You can list 10 feature films, one short and a single, self-contained season of a TV series.

3. NO CHEATING. Every slot on the list must be claimed by a self-contained unit of media. You can put all 15 hours of “Berlin Alexanderplatz” on the list because it’s considered one long film (or if you saw it in Germany, a TV miniseries), but you can’t put “The Godfather” and “The Godfather, Part II” in the same slot because “it counts as one long film” (it doesn’t!). You can’t put 10 seasons of “I Love Lucy” on their, either, or “‘Twin Peaks’ up through the part in Season 2 where we finally find out who killed Laura Palmer.” Part of the fun of this exercise is figuring out what you think you can watch over and over, and what you can live without. Stick to the parameters, otherwise we’ll have human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria.

My list is below (warning: they are nowhere as highbrow as Matt Zoller’s).

Home Alone (1990) dir. Chris Colombus


To me this film is Christmas. I watch it every year on Christmas Eve without fail and I couldn’t imagine a Christmas without it. Although some aspects of the film are quite dated (no mobile phones to get hold of people!), the sense of adventure is not. Happiness in one neat 103 minute package. This is also one of the first films I owned on VHS, and the very first film I owned on DVD. I can’t do life without it.


となりのトトロ – My Neighbour Totoro (1988) dir. Hayao Miyazaki


In my opinion this is the most magical animation of all time. Never has an animated film swept me into it’s world in the same way that Totoro has (and still continues to do so when I watch it). Check out our great review of Totoro by Chris Elena here.


TV Series – Black Books: Season 1 (2000) created by Dylan Moran


To me this show represents the best of British comedy and TV. It’s hard to believe that it’s over 10 years old, because the humour hasn’t aged. We’ve all got bits of Bernard Black in us – and I don’t know about you but some days I wish I could be more like him and less like me. It’s hard to pick a favourite episode, but at a pinch it would be ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. Watching Moran and Bailey re-create the posh wine with things from the garden is beyond hilarious.


The Man with a Camera (1929) dir. Dziga Vertov


This film is not only beautiful but it is also a window into 1920s Soviet Union. What started out as a film in the 20s becomes a documentary in the modern area. One of the very few silent films that I can say I honestly enjoyed. I think I’d find something quite calming and immersing about watching this.


Top Gun (1986) dir. Tony Scott


I think if you’re stuck on a desert island you’re going to want to watch at least one fun 80s action film, so why not Top Gun? Tom Cruise at his hottest, I mean finest, I mean best…whatever. The soundtrack alone would be worthy of having on a desert island. I can imagine myself delirious with heat stroke, dancing around singing “Through the fire”! Classic .


The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) dir. Uli Edel


I saw this at the New Zealand International Film Festival a few years ago and it really blew me away. There was something about seeing people my age committing these crimes/protesting in this way, which really had an impact on me. This film has a very powerful and timely message – In search for a more human society you must not lose your humanity or you are part of problem, not the solution. I think a film about this era is important to have.


Short – Portal: No Escape (2011) dir. Dan Trachtenberg


My short would have to be 2011’s internet short orgasm of the year, Portal: No Escape. As a huge fan of the games, I was completely blown away by the sheer awesomeness of this short. Trachtenberg manages to transfer the creepy awe of the game perfectly to the big screen. I don’t get sick of watching this and somewhat hope we get a feature-length film one day.


The Tree of Life (2011) dir. Terrence Malick


If you’re stuck on a desert island you’re going to have a lot of time to think; probably about the meaning of life and other such profound things. This film would be helpful in that situation. If your island is devoid of any plant or animal life, this film could provide your visual stimulation. Finally, perhaps if I watched it a few dozen times I could finally “get” all of it. (for my thoughts on the film check out this post).


Wall.E (2008) dir. Andrew Stanton


I’m going to put it out there….this is my favourite Pixar Film. There is something about the messages of greed and waste in this film which really resonated with me. I actually cried watching it, like proper blubbing. This animated robot has more heart than almost any human character in film in the last decade. Well deserving of a place in my desert island picks.


生きる – Ikiru (1951) dir. Akira Kurosawa


To me this is Kurosawa’s masterpiece – one of the closest things to poetry in pictures. In a sense Kurosawa is doing in this film, what Malick is trying to do 60 years later in The Tree of Life. He is trying to explore the meaning of life and the point of our existence. How trivial your loyalty to your job of 30 years seems when at the end you realise you have nothing. This film is both heart-breaking and heart-warming; a lesson in living for the moment.


The Shining (1980) dir. Stanley Kubrick


If you’re going to be stuck alone on a desert island, why not scare yourself with the best there is? I get freaked out just thinking about it. That is all the reason I need to include this film.


宇宙戦艦ヤマト – Space Battleship Yamato (2010) dir. Takashi Yamazaki


Let’s face it – if you’re alone on an island, there are only so many films about the meaning of life and of human existence that you want to see. If I’m feeling down and can’t go on, I want to laugh not cry. This film made me laugh more than any other that I’ve seen in cinema. The worthy holder of my ‘Best worst movie’ title. This movie has all the cheesy lines, bad acting, and cats in space that you could ever want. I’m going out with a smile on my face!


What do you think of my picks? Would you include all high-quality films, or is there a place for things that just make you laugh? Let me know if the comments or do your own blog post!


This post is a modified version of a post originally published on my tumblr.