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The best ever Asian films: What you said

  • Story Highlights
  • "The Screening Room" is on a continuing quest to find the best of Asian film
  • Huge response from users to our previous article -- but we want more feedback
  • We missed: Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai," Chan Park-Wook''s "Oldboy"
  • You loved: Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love," Ishmael Bernal's "Himala"
  • Next Article in Entertainment »
By CNN's Mairi Mackay
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- "Oops -- missed a giant here, guys! How could you NOT include Akira Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' ('Shichinin No Samurai'). This is a granddaddy in the genre!" scolded Mary Ann.

You said we should include some Japanese anime like "Princess Mononoke" (pictured), "Akira" or "Tokyo Godfathers."

It's never nice to have your failings pointed out, but any list that claims to be a "best of" something as subjective as film is bound to fuel debate.

And our call out to help pick the best Asian films of all time was no exception -- the debate raged long and fierce.

As our list is very much a work in progress we were delighted to get so much feedback -- both positive and negative -- on what we are hoping will be a collaborative effort. What do you think the best Asia Pacific film should be?

Many of you commented on the concerning phenomenon of New Zealand moving into Asia in our film inclusions. Roald said: "Can we have a definition of Asian film please?"

Oscar was worried he had missed a major seismic event: "Can anyone tell me when did they move New Zealand to Asia? Was there an earthquake or something?"

So, to clarify, in the spirit of inclusion, we have decided to include films from New Zealand and Australia and, for that matter, the Pacific region, so we are now asking for the best films of all time from Asia Pacific.

This stirs up a hornet's nest of other difficulties, not least choosing a few films to represent the best of such a diverse geographical and cultural area, but we never claimed a scientific approach.

Roald also asked if we would be including films made by Asian filmmakers in the West. We decided no, we will keep it geographically specific, but Roald, if you are reading this and would like to propose a top 10 Asian films made in the West, we'll post it up on The Screening Room blog.

Now, on to the films.

It would seem we made some glaring omissions, the most serious of which appears to be Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai." Thank you JAS for really getting the point across: "Hello? 'Seven Samurai'? Duh!?"

Another popular film we missed is Chan-wook Park's "Oldboy." "What? No 'Oldboy'?" said Walt. A sentiment echoed by Wever who said: "Absolutely shocked 'Old Boy' is not on this list ... "

"Unfortunately somebody forgot Satyajit Ray's 'Pather Panchali' (1956)[sic]" chimed shakan@vsnl.com. Ricky agreed, saying, "Where's Satyajit Ray's 'Apu Trilogy'? Leaving it out is just wrong." Murali was right there with them on this one: "I am surprised some of Satyajit Ray's movies are missing especially 'Appu [sic] Trilogy'."

Chinese Zhang Yimou's "Raise the Red Lantern" is a firm favorite among CNN readers, as is Vietnamese Anh Hung Tran's "The Scent of Green Papaya": "The bigger shocker to me is that there is no mention of 'Scent of Green Papaya'. I always considered that film one of the breakthrough Vietnamese films," said Alvin.

Taiwanese Hou Hsiao Hsien was another popular omission. "Taiwan: Hou Hsiao Hsien's 'CITY OF SADNESS' and 'THE PUPPETMASTER'" offered Katja.

Animation is another area close to your hearts: "How about the anime 'Mononoke Hime'? Like 'Enter the Dragon' did for Kung Fu movies, 'Mononoke' introduced an established sub-genre to a wider Western audience," instructed Willwander, leaving us all a little better-educated.

Other honorable mentions include Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" (and also "My Neighbour Totoro" -- in fact, anything from Studio Ghibli), "Akira" and "Tokyo Godfathers."

But enough about what we missed. You did think we got some films right.

Typical of many of you who left comments, Shahriar Khonsari is a huge fan of Wong Kar-wai: "'In the Mood for Love" is among all of these films. Every time I watch it, I see more details and deeper thoughts."

"'2046' -- Kar Wai Wong -- prefer it to 'In The Mood For Love', but both are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and moving," opines Damned Thing.

You also approved of "Shower": "'Shower' -- Yang Zhang, 1999 -- my all-time favourite. Just a story about human society, about the loss of the old, and the growth of the young," gushed Helen.

But the clear favorite has to be Ishmael Bernal's 1982 film "Himala," which elicited an avalanche of raving positivity. Here is a small sample:

"'Himala' is the best asian film I've ever watched. It's so beautiful! Acting is superb!" said Bongskie. Arthur said,"'Himala' is the greatest filipino film."

"The classic film, 'HIMALA' is considered as Philippines' best. It won several major acting awards including the BEST ACTRESS award for NORA AUNOR (all time greatest actress of philippine cinema). Himala deserves to be in the TOP list of BEST ASIAN FILMS OF ALL TIME," said Meng Natividad.

Finally, a word of warning from John: "To make a list of 'best Asian movies' is like making a list of the best European movies. There can be no such thing.

"Any sort of 'boiling down' of the best of this massive, abundant, and fruitful crop of films -- admittedly, gleaned from a group that suited Western tastes --does disservice to the cacophonous diversity of movies from the continent."

Well, we thought we'd give it a go anyway, John -- if only to shine a little light on exactly that fruitful crop.

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