Jeanne Dielman: and the best movie of all time is ... Belgian


In its decennial poll Sight & Sound in 2022, the respected British Film Institute (BFI) named Brussels filmmaker Chantal Akerman's masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) the best film ever made in the 130-year history of the art form.

If you're mentioned in the same breath as Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) or Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941), you're in elite company. No fewer than 1,600 film critics and cinephiles praised this experimental and feminist work, which is probably the best-known example of slow motion, static long shots.  

We witness three days in the life of a widow in Brussels, condensed into 208 minutes of film. She performs her household tasks routinely and ritualistically. At first glance, it's all rather banal. But once a day, in the afternoon, she works as a prostitute, to support her teenage son. Someone has to put bread on the table.  

There are various reasons why the film has such elevated status as a dramatic work of art. Firstly, Akerman makes a radical departure from typical image and narrative styles, among other things through the static shots, forcing the viewer's own directorial choices by dragging out Jeanne's actions almost endlessly, creating drama and tension with a distinctly feminine perspective. A predominantly female production crew casts light on the inner lives of women that have been traditionally overlooked by society. 

Jeanne Dielman, over three hours of revolutionary cinema guaranteed!