Jeanne Dielman: where to watch Chantal Akerman film voted best ever in Sight and Sound poll over Citizen Kane
A French drama film you’ve probably never heard of has just been named the greatest movie of all time
and live on Freeview channel 276
The 1975 French language drama film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles has been chosen as the greatest film of all time by a group of industry experts. The British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound poll of the 100 greatest ever films has been run every decade since 1952, selecting the best films ever made.
The first GOAT to be chosen back in 1952 was Bicycle Thieves, an Italian post-war drama about a poor father and son in Rome. For the next 40 years, Orson Welles’ 1941 epic drama Citizen Kane, about the death of a newspaper tycoon, was chosen as the best film ever made. In 2012, Alfred Hitcock’s psychological thriller Vertigo took the top spot - and this year, Jeanne Dielman became the first film directed by a woman to be chosen as best by the group. It pushed Vertigo into second place, Citizen Kane into third, and Bicycle Thieves into joint 41st position with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon.
Jeanne Dielman, directed by the late Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, is far less well known than many other films on the list, which includes Casablanca, The Shining, Parasite, and The Godfather. However, the 1,600 critics who voted in the BFI poll believe that this film stands above all others.
What is Jeanne Dielma about?
Jeanne Dielma follows the lonely widowed Belgian housewife of the film’s title who lives a life of monotony, doing her daily chores, taking care of her apartment and teenage son, and struggling to make ends meet. She turns to prostitution to bring in more money to support herself and her son, but when she kills one of her clients, her dull life is turned upside down.
The film takes place over just three days, charting Dielma’s breakdown as her domestic routine is destroyed. It clocks in at around 3.5 hours in length, making it the longest film in the top 10 - though the 27th ranked film on the list - Holocuast documentary Shoah - is an incredible 4.5 hours long.
Laura Mulvey, writing for BFI, said: “Jeanne Dielman is inescapably a woman’s film, consciously feminist in its turn to the avant garde. In a film that, agonisingly, depicts women’s oppression, Akerman transforms cinema, itself so often an instrument of women’s oppression, into a liberating force.”
Jeanne Dielma first entered the Sight and Sound list in 2012, when it came in 35th place. Now, it is not only the first female-directed film to reach first place, it is also the first to have ever come in the top 10.
How can you watch Jeanne Dielma?
You can watch Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles for free with a BFI 14-day free trial. After your trial period, if you choose to keep your subscription, it will cost £4.99 per month. Other films available to watch with a BFI subscription include Citizen Kane, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Shoah, and Bicycle Thieves.
Is there a trailer for Jeanne Dielman?
Yes there is, and you can watch it right here: