We love myth. We bury our heads in it when facts and the fallacies of life fail to deliver the necessary psychological goods. Myth makes us happy, it reminds us of better, beefier times. It recalls our best while smiting our worst with tales of titans and troubles conquered and overcome. More importantly, myth makes up our consensus. It’s a communal explanation and a means of making sense of a complicated often elusive world. Of course, if one gets lost in myth, we lose touch with true reality. We can augment our existence, but living for and through folklore is a recipe for ridicule. A myth isn’t life. It’s a rose-colored window that frequently fogs up, misdirecting us and those who worship at its door.
When addressing the films found at number seven on Sight & Sound‘s recent list of the world’s greatest films (both overall, and from the exclusive director’s purview), we see perfect examples of moviemaking myth. We see art as entertainment, classicism as cause for celebration. While both movies are indeed monuments to the name of cinema, each is exclusive to their determination. If you are looking for The Godfather on the overall ranking, you have to go all the way down to 21. The directors, oddly enough, have The Searchers ranked even lower, coming in at 48. There’s an even more interesting twist if you look closely. The directors place another genre (and personally preferred) entry, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western epic Once Upon a Time in the West, a few slots higher (at #44).