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(Credit: MGM)


The Vatican named the 45 greatest films of all time

To mark the 100th anniversary of the cinematic art form in 1995, the Vatican took on the monumental responsibility of selecting 45 of the greatest cinematic masterpieces made in an entire century of beautiful filmmaking. Although it seems like a weird list for the Vatican to make, their criteria for selection will provide some more information.

In order to select films that reached new artistic heights as well as the ones which help spread the values of the church, the Vatican decided to divide the selection into three distinct categories – religion, value and art. By doing so, they judged varying cinematic outputs on the basis of religious value, moral value and artistic value.

At the surface, such divisions seem extremely arbitrary and highly subjective but this list is an interesting one. It has deeply spiritual films such as Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev as well as unconventionally imaginative interpretations of a scientific definition of God like Stanley Kubrick’s highly influential magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“Since the first public audience in Paris viewed the moving pictures prepared by the Lumière brothers in December 1895,” Pope John Paul II said, “the film industry has become a universal medium exercising a profound influence on the development of people’s attitudes and choices, and possessing a remarkable ability to influence public opinion and culture across all social and political frontiers.”

The Pope went on to say that the church considered cinema to be a positive, hopeful and uplifting medium which was capable of capturing the fundamental truths of the human condition like no other. As a tribute to the pioneers who changed cinema forever, they decided to remember the visionaries through this collection.

Check the full list below.

The Vatican’s 45 greatest films:


  • Andrei Rublev (1966)
  • Babette’s Feast (1987)
  • Ben-Hur (1959)
  • The Flowers of St. Francis (1950)
  • Francesco (1989)
  • The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1966)
  • La Passion de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ (1905)
  • A Man for All Seasons (1966)
  • The Mission (1986)
  • Monsieur Vincent (1947)
  • Nazarin (1958)
  • Ordet (1955)
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
  • The Sacrifice (1986)
  • Therese (1986)


  • Au Revoir les Enfants (1988)
  • Bicycle Thieves (1949)
  • The Burmese Harp (1956)
  • Chariots of Fire (1981)
  • Dekalog (1988)
  • Dersu Uzala (1975)
  • Gandhi (1982)
  • Intolerance (1916)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • On the Waterfront (1954)
  • Rome, Open City (1945)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • The Seventh Seal (1957)
  • The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)
  • Wild Strawberries (1957)


  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  •  (1963)
  • Fantasia (1940)
  • Grand Illusion (1937)
  • La Strada (1954)
  • The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
  • The Leopard (1963)
  • Little Women (1933)
  • Metropolis (1927)
  • Modern Times (1936)
  • Napoleon (1927)
  • Nosferatu (1922)
  • Stagecoach (1939)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)