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Quantifying Ignorance

Earlier today a friend was discussing how many of the IMDb Top 250* they had seen. While I look at the list on a fairly regular basis, I had never actually sat down and calculated how many I have seen.

Based on the list as it stands today, the answer is a measly 78. Glaring omissions include: The Godfather (Parts I and II); Pulp Fiction; The Good, The Bad and the Ugly; 12 Angry Men; and Fight Club. And that’s just in the Top Ten. In addition, I thought I was relatively cool for listing The Shawshank Redemption as my top film, but turns out that pretty much everyone else has too. On the plus side, I haven’t seen any of the films on the Bottom 100 list, so I’m doing one thing right!

However, the list does tell us some interesting things about the average IMDb user. Without wanting to make too many assumptions about the female sex, I would guess that most people who rate films are male – for example, the highest rated film that could be classed as a romance is Casablanca down at 25.** I like to think that this doesn’t necessarily mean that people wouldn’t rate romances as high on the list, maybe just that they wouldn’t admit it, but that may just be the romantic in me!

The list is also dominated by English-language films, and animations (particularly those by Pixar and Studio Ghibli) rank unusually high. It spans an amazingly long time period – dating from the 1920s (Charlie Chaplin-starrers The Kid and The Gold Rush, and Buster Keaton in The General) to this month’s Gravity. And when the lowest-ranked film on the list has an average rating of 8.0 out of 10, they are hardly scraping the barrel.

Whether starting this blog will be enough of a trigger for me to cross a few more off this list, I don’t know. But one thing is certain, I have nearly 350 hours (or over 14 days) of viewing left before I come close to crossing everything off. Now, if only I could just set aside the next month…

* A list of the top 250 ‘rated’ films, based on ratings by the registered IMDb users. Only non-documentary theatrical releases running at least forty-five minutes with over 25,000 ratings are considered; all other products are ineligible.

** It’s possible that this may say more about the quality of films made in that genre, but I would be willing to bet that that’s not the whole story.



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