What is the oldest movie you absolutely love?
I asked this question to my little sister one day. She’s a twenty year old sophomore in college right now, with Pirates of the Caribbean, Mean Girls and The Fox and the Hound dominating her DVD shelf. I’m not putting those movies down at all, I even admit to loving Mean Girls more than most people should. But when asked to think about the oldest films she loves, Saving Private Ryan (from 1998!) was on the list. Her reasoning: it’s old to me because there are so many newer movies out.
That’s right, newer and newer movies come out every week. Just like newer and newer people are born every day. Weird huh? The difference is that people and movies earn their merit in opposite ways. A film earns millions in its first weekend and the baby fills a few diapers. The film lives for a few weeks, months if it’s lucky, in theaters, then perhaps picks up a few awards, celebrates and slips into a retirement of low DVD sales.
To the average person, an older film may not be very appealing. So are they supposed to settle on the flavor of the week? How sad. Why not branch out? It’s not that painful, I promise. Even my sister, who called Saving Private Ryan an old movie, is willing to sample some good films as far back as the 1970s…it’s a start!
When I’m reviewing these older films, they might be older than your grandma, but you still treat her with respect, right? These films have been preserved with meaning and purpose. Sure, you can’t follow the actors on twitter (they’re probably dead), they’re not in color and Michael Bay isn’t making sure that something is exploding every three minutes, but these are the films that have survived. Sixty, seventy, eighty years and people still remember, watch and enjoy.
Where will Twilight be in thirty years? Or American Pie? Will it be as upheld as Animal House and if so, think of the messed up questions our kids and grandkids will be asking us. Will Avatar or The Blind Side become classics or cliché? Is it possible that one day our children and grandchildren will see Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Jaws, Star Wars or Saving Private Ryan and wonder why there hasn’t been anything as great since then? It was so long ago…