Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Truth About "Classic" Films

What makes or breaks a "classic" film? Have you ever sat around pondering that question? This is something I've been mulling over for some time, and I think I have finally come up with a solution.

To start, "classic" films are very often nothing more than a cop out answer to cover up one's own infidelities when it comes to naming your favorite films of all-time. I fall victim to this practice a great many times. In order to impress fellow cinephiles, I am more apt to put more "classic" films in my slate of the best of all-time. But is there really such a thing as a "classic" film? Seriously, to deem a film a "classic", that is implying that the film in question is universally loved by pretty much all moviegoers, but unfortunately that isn't the case. For all of the people out there who love Citizen Kane, there are those like myself who think it overrated. Of course, there are "classics" still by a certain daft definition, a definition that neither I nor anyone else can deny.

Very often I feel certain films are considered "classics" purely because for their time they were considered groundbreaking and influential, but when you go back and watch them now, you realize that there were far better films released over the past year than that film that is oft considered by so many as the greatest of all-time. Citizen Kane, The Third Man, Breathless, all films that pretentious cinephiles consider "classics" that I think are overrated. These films are not the best that the film industry has to offer, and obviously since I am not their biggest fan, then they aren't universal in their adoration. Though would I consider these films "classics"? Yes.

The true definition of a "classic" in my opinion, unfortunately has little to do with the actual quality of the film itself and the story it tells. Majority of "classic" films are only considered as such because someone like Scorsese or Spielberg named it the films that inspired them to become directors (and this can be applied as well to anyone in the film industry). Most "classic" films are considered "classics" because they were influential and made some sort of lasting impact on cinema. Citizen Kane was a groundbreaking film, so was The Third Man, Breathless, even my favorite film of all-time, Star Wars, was a groundbreaking film, thus it is a "classic". Do I like this practice? No. If it were up to me everyone on Earth would love Star Wars and have seen it hundreds of times, but alas I know some who do not like the film, I even know a few who have never even seen it! So what's the point I'm trying to make here?

At the end of the day, are there "classics"? Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean every classic you run across is a good film, that is why I do this series on the Review called, "The Classics," reviewing classic films as if they were released today. Sometimes I give a bad review, sometimes I say the film being reviewed is the model of a perfect piece of cinema. It can vary, cause when it gets right down to it, a "classic" based upon quality alone is impossible, therefore I try to have a little bit of fun and share my thoughts as to which "classics" are actually up to the challenge of being worthy of such a title.

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