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Classics vs contemporary films

Cinema classics old vaintage critic

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#1 Younes Boudiaf

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 03:14 PM

Hi everyone,

 

I have watched so many TV shows, interviews with filmmakers and cinematographers about Cinema, and what really drew my attention was their taste or their preferred films ! 99% of them mention a classic ! Stanley Cubrick, sergio leone, Hitchcock, .... films. or even 1920's films !

 

I am not arguing here about other people tastes,  but I want to understand the point of view of our great contemporary directors and cinematographers about their preferred pictures !  

 

And even if you check the Top films of all time, you will find classics on the top, for example in Rotten Tomatoes the first 20 films are made more than 40-80 yeas ago ! except E.T which is 32 :)

 

http://www.rottentom...m/top/bestofrt/

 

 

What is special about classics that don't exist in contemporary cinema? 

 

 

 


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 03:30 PM

You could ask the same question about music or painting... Why listen to Beethoven when you've got Taylor Swift?

 

Part of the answer to your question is that a movie has to have been around awhile so that any initial enthusiasm has been replaced by a more reflective assessment as to its value.  In other words, "instant classic" is an oxymoron.  Another part of the answer is that what people consider to be classics change over time as well, for example, "Citizen Kane" was hardly mentioned on "Greatest Movies" lists until the late 1950's but recently has been supplanted by "Vertigo", which also hardly appeared on anyone's list until the late 1970's.  So we keep re-evaluating these older movies.  Doesn't mean though that the latest round of evaluations is more "correct" than the last one.  But as to why a movie that is only three years old, let's say, isn't on those lists generally is simply the mistrust of initial impulses, the impulse to say, for example, that "Avatar" is the greatest movie of all time, only to find its reputation to have dropped a bit over time.  I remember people saying the "Dances with Wolves" was one of the greatest movies of all time when it was released.  Nothing wrong with those movies but honestly, how can anyone say anything is that great when it's brand-new?  It takes TIME to evaluate something's worth more accurately.

 

Another factor is just generational.  A "great" director today is often in their 50's, let's say, which means they were a teenager in the late 1970's, so the "great" directors that they studied in college in the 1980's, when most people get the most passionate about a topic, were in their later years by that time, which means their heyday was the 1950's, 60's, etc. -- i.e. Lean, Kubrick, Hitchcock.  A bit younger, and maybe your heroes would be from the 1970's -- Altman, Coppola, Bertolucci, Scorsese, Spielberg.  I've met people younger than me who are big fans of John Hughes' 80's movies, something I never got into, just like I was already too old to get into 1980's pop music like Michael Jackson (I graduated college in 1984.)

 

Sure, we can argue about what is "wrong" with modern movies but then again, it's probably too early to assess them properly.

 

Also, there were plenty of bad movies released in the past, but over time, we have been able to see the cream rising to the top, let's say.  With contemporary movies, we're still in the middle of it all so it's harder to know what will stand the test of time.

 

Commercial impulses pretty much mean that current fads are always at the forefront, so I don't see a problem with taking a moment to reflect on the value of older movies -- we see plenty of stuff being shot in completely contemporary styles because that's commercially successful.  Contemporary movies don't need to be "championed" over older movies, the pressure is always to be contemporary after all.


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#3 cole t parzenn

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 07:02 PM

If I may add, a lot of things have to go right, to make ANY movie; many more things have to go right, to make a good movie; I don't want to think about the obstacles, to a movie having a lasting impact. But that set definitionally includes time, as David noted. Humans also tend to enjoy comparing new things to old things.


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#4 John E Clark

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Posted 27 December 2014 - 02:11 PM

Hi everyone,

 

I have watched so many TV shows, interviews with filmmakers and cinematographers about Cinema, and what really drew my attention was their taste or their preferred films ! 99% of them mention a classic ! Stanley Cubrick, sergio leone, Hitchcock, .... films. or even 1920's films !

 

I a strong believer that 'classic' can only be designated when the film has passed into history, and then is evaluated for its merits.

 

You mention Sergio Leone... I first saw the Clint Eastwood westerns that have now become 'classics' in theaters that were 'on the other side of the tracks'. At the time porn was illegal, but these theaters whould show 'soft core' sexploitation films, biker gang films, and westerns such as the Leone opus...

 

Fast forward nearly 50 years... and his works are 'classics'...

 

Some films from the late 60's early 70's that were 'wow', I find 'hard to watch' these days. I like Hitchcock, but I do see 'his era' imprinted on the films... sound stage sets, big lights, etc... that were required in the era. I especially like "Strangers on a Train"(1951), and of course "Psycho"(1960), but the others really strike me these days as studio deals, whether big studio in the US, or his early British works.

 

I've been meaning to get the BD update to "Peeping Tom"(1960), one of the last films directed by Michael Powell... which was a contemporary film of "Psycho" and legend has it that one of the reasons for Hitchcocks approach to the 'media' and disallowing press previews of the film, was due to how "Peeping Tom" was killed in the press before its general release.

 

Of course the media hype for "Psycho" was a 'classic' media campaign in its own right...


Edited by John E Clark, 27 December 2014 - 02:12 PM.

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