The demise of Kim Jong-il has robbed the world of not only a notorious tyrant, but also a great film lover.
[Gallery: Life and death of Kim Jong-il]
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Famously, the late North Korean dictator was a huge cinephile and reportedly had a collection of over 20,000 movies on video and DVD (perhaps they didn’t have Blu-ray yet). He even wrote an essay called ‘The Cinema and Directing’.
But what were his favourite flicks? And how do his tastes compare with other world leaders, past and present?
Obviously it’s not easy getting definite facts out of the communist state, but according to Shin Sang-ok, a South Korean director kidnapped by Kim in 1978, he was a big fan of 'Rambo: First Blood', 'Friday the 13th' and Hong Kong action films. He also liked Ealing comedies and ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, because they depicted a mobilised working class.
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Before the Gallic leader met Carla Bruni he was apparently a movie philistine – his favorite film was ‘Saving Private Ryan’, which in France obviously makes him an idiot. But she has since introduced him to the world of classic cinema and he can now “discourse at length about the films of Carl Theodor Dreyer”. For the uninitiated, Dreyer is an early Danish director whose films include ‘Vampyr’ and ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’.
George W. Bush
‘Field of Dreams’ is most commonly listed as the top film of the former US President. The definitive baseball flick, it’s set in the 1950s and harks back to a golden age of the sport. Some critics reckon the choice shows a limited intellect, but perhaps it’s just ‘cos Dubya is a huge baseball nut.
Perhaps appropriately, the current present of the United States digs films about the nature of power… and how it corrupts. In an interview with ABC News’ Katie Couric, he cited ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather Part 2’ as his fave flicks. He also likes 'Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Casablanca'.
Stalin was another dictator who happened to be a huge film buff. When he wasn’t arresting doctors for no reason, he fancied himself as film producer; commissioning movies, tweaking scripts and making cuts in the editing room. Unsurprisingly, his fave film was one he produced - a good natured jazz comedy called ‘Volga Volga’.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert reckoned Bill’s number one film was classic 1952 western ‘High Noon’, which saw stoic marshal Gary Cooper defend a town from bandits all by himself. Weirdly, it’s also constantly referenced by gang boss Tony in ‘The Sopranos’.
According to urban legend, the genocidal maniac’s top films were ‘King Kong’ - which kind of makes sense as it depicts urban destruction on a massive scale - and, er, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Which really doesn’t.
Tricky Dicky loved ‘Patton’, the biopic of the famous general starring George C. Scott. In Bob Woodwood and Carl Bernstein’s book about the disgraced former president, they said he screened the film several times at the White House.
Another appropriate choice. The deceased tyrant had a soft spot for movies “involving intrigue, assassination, and conspiracy”, according to classy mag The Atlantic and especially liked ‘Day of the Jackal’. The dead dictator was also keen on ‘The Conversation’, ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘The Godfather’.
Cherie dropped Tone right in it when she admitted her hubby was a big fan of the fun-but-stupid ‘Rush Hour’ series in 2005. She told the film’s star Jackie Chan at a party; “I have to say the Prime Minister is a bit of a fan. He tells me that ‘Rush Hour’ is his favourite." Unless she was just being polite of course.