Jump to content
rllmuk
Sign in to follow this  
Treble

'Old' Films - What do you think of them?

Recommended Posts

I'll give 12 Angry Men a go to see if it can buck the trend. I'm trying to think of the oldest film I've see that I can honestly say I truly enjoyed. Maybe North By Northwest (1959)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an... interesting interpretation of the sequence of events that led to this thread.

The contention was made that early computer games are unique amongst all media in that they have a high barrier to entry, whereas classical music, early film and classic literature don't suffer from that. A few people argued that that was a pile of old bollocks, as all the early forms of media have high barriers to entry, and amongst the examples given was the fact that, for a lot of people, early film (particularly pre-60s, and especially silent) is difficult to watch - relatively few people would happily choose to watch films from those eras, and only a select few remain easily accessible to modern audiences (e.g. Snow White, Casablanca - I can't actually think of any silent films I'd class as being 'accessible' to a modern audience). Much, in fact, like early computer games.

I stand by that assessment, as much as I, personally, enjoy films well into the black and white era. I saw nothing in the thread which made a qualitative argument that older films have a higher dross-to-quality ratio, just a series of arguments reiterating that they do have a high barrier to entry for a modern audience.

I was responding directly to MK's assertion: "There are not a lot of old films that are enjoyed for more than kitsch ['gaudy; sentimental'] value, relative to the number that were made". I'm pretty sure that's saying that most old films don't have much value to a modern audience.

​As for the general argument in that thread, I understand that cultural differences make appreciation more difficult for some people. I'm not sure ignorance of a subject is a good excuse for not investing some time in appreciating them, though.

And I still think that old games are a difficult comparison to make to old art as games are interactive, and as much about their mechanisms as they are their 'art'. You might appreciate looking at an old model-T Ford but I bet you wouldn't want to drive it for more than five minutes because modern cars are inarguably superior. Great art transcends time and culture, but mechanistic processes don't.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been mentioned at least half a dozen times already in this thread and I'd imagine most people reading this have already seen it, but Twelve Angry Men is a work of genius. Probably in my top five films of all time.

Added to my Lovefilm list, cheers. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

​As for the general argument in that thread, I understand that cultural differences make appreciation more difficult for some people. I'm not sure ignorance of a subject is a good excuse for not investing some time in appreciating them, though.

Is it not? I assume you also go out of your way to invest your time in appreciating classical music, ancient literature, classic literature, classic plays, operas, ballet, the various eras of sculpture and painting, as well as classic film, then? Or are you marking out classic film as somehow more 'worthy' of appreciation, perchance?

People appreciate what they appreciate - arguing that people 'should' go out of their way to try and appreciate something because you happen to enjoy it is, well, a little snobbish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it not? I assume you also go out of your way to invest your time in appreciating classical music, ancient literature, classic literature, classic plays, operas, ballet, the various eras of sculpture and painting, as well as classic film, then? Or are you marking out classic film as somehow more 'worthy' of appreciation, perchance?

People appreciate what they appreciate - arguing that people 'should' go out of their way to try and appreciate something because you happen to enjoy it is, well, a little snobbish.

There’s a very easy response to that: any artform labelled ‘classic’ or ‘classical’ has a higher barrier to entry than all but the most obscure and esoteric films, as film is popular culture.

Just by growing-up and watching films (and to a lesser extent, TV) of any genre, age or quality, people begin to understand how they ‘work’. I'd argue that classical literature, art, sculpture etc. needs a much deeper education in order to appreciate the finer points. The majority of older films still available are part of this pop cultural language we understand, so aren't we saying that people don’t watch them because some superficial aspects put them off?

I’m not sure I’m being snobbish here (although, I would say that, wouldn’t I?!) and the films I’ve mentioned been just ‘normal’ stuff really. I’m not invoking Clouzot, Rossellini, Bergman or anything, I’ve been talking about people watching standard stuff like Eagle Squadron or film noir, screwball comedies and Rear Window, WWII movies and horse operas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it is snobbish at all. If you enjoy a particular medium why would you deprive yourself of all the great earlier examples out there?

Ah, I think we're discussing slightly different groupings of people here - you're talking about people who enjoy film as a whole; I'm talking about people who enjoy some films - genre fans, and people who go to the cinema because it's 'something to do'. The reason they'd deprive themselves of the great early examples would be that they just aren't interested.

There’s a very easy response to that: any artform labelled ‘classic’ or ‘classical’ has a higher barrier to entry than all but the most obscure and esoteric films, as film is popular culture.

Just by growing-up and watching films (and to a lesser extent, TV) of any genre, age or quality, people begin to understand how they ‘work’. I'd argue that classical literature, art, sculpture etc. needs a much deeper education in order to appreciate the finer points. The majority of older films still available are part of this pop cultural language we understand, so aren't we saying that people don’t watch them because some superficial aspects put them off?

I’m not sure I’m being snobbish here (although, I would say that, wouldn’t I?!) and the films I’ve mentioned been just ‘normal’ stuff really. I’m not invoking Clouzot, Rossellini, Bergman or anything, I’ve been talking about people watching standard stuff like Eagle Squadron or film noir, screwball comedies and Rear Window, WWII movies and horse operas.

I'm probably overly tied up in the original thread, here, rather than MK's throwaway comment. The thing is, the whole debate in that thread started with this comment:

Richard Garriott is one of the figures and listening to him it's clear that Ultima IV does some spectacularly interesting things, makes important steps, all that jazz. Now go check it out (it's on GOG!)... unplayable by modern standards. Un.Play.Able.

A classic film can comunicate its greatness to a modern audience, no problem. Classical music, ditto. Fine art, the same. With a grand old videogame, however, there's no such guarantee.

(accentuation mine)

You might not want to count 'classic' genres, but that's where MK was coming from with his reply, responding to that particular claim that classics are easy for modern audiences to fully appreciate, except for classic games. The thing is, you're arguing a different thing - that some old films are easy to appreciate, which I wouldn't deny. But then, some old games are easy to appreciate. It's just that many of the classics aren't. Surely this goes equally for film? System Shock is hard to get into - but then, so is Citizen Kane (well, I certainly find it incredibly boring). Gone with the Wind is too long-winded to hold my attention, just as Ultima take far more investment than the average player is likely to want to invest. And, if I'm honest, I have great difficulty enjoying any silent films. And I'm actively interested in film! I have numerous friends who are far less interested, and would struggle to enjoy any film in black and white, any film made in the '50s or before. I don't see any difference between film, games and other media in this regard.

That Shakespeare fella is ancient, why are folk still banging on about him?

Probably something to do with everyone studying him for years at school. It's easy to 'appreciate' something when you're told over and over again that you should.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't agree with the assertion that modern audiences can't enjoy great films. Obviously some people won't like them, but I've seen enough old (sometimes really old) films play to popular audiences of mixed age groups and go down a storm. And I'm not talking about a bunch of fusty academics at the BFI clapping politely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(e.g. Snow White, Casablanca - I can't actually think of any silent films I'd class as being 'accessible' to a modern audience).

I think 'Metropolis' is still pretty accessible- and weirdly relevant- which is probably why they dug it up in the eighties and rereleased it with a Girogio Moroder soundtrack and Freddie Mercury and Pat Benatar warbling over the top. It might be 90 years old or so but it still looks pretty good and the story- futuristic class warfare between the workers and the rich- isn't a million miles from the concept of modern films like Elysium.

metropolis-metropolis-08-08-1984-10-01-1

Metropolis+01.jpg

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've watched Metropolis - or at least, what there was of it in the edition available around 2007/8 - and while I certainly found it interesting, I wouldn't have called it accessible. The fact it's fragmentary doesn't help, there, of course, but primarily its the acting (and of course the use of intertitles) that make it a difficult watch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw Metropolis with a mate at the DCA, the rerelease that was as close to the original Berlin premiere as they could get. It had footage they thought had been lost but was actually rotting in an Argentinian basement and had to fix up. There were hardly any intertitles because they could put back in the stuff the intertitles covered.

It was awesome, and accessible as hell. We were sitting there drinking beer and loving the whole thing, it's the archetypal action movie. Hell, he fights an evil scientist on top of a church and kicks him off. I'm amazed Michael Bay isn't up to reboot it yet. Fighting brilliant film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tell you what: Gone With The Wind is fucking shit. Scarlett O'Hara is one of the most unlikeable characters in all fiction. She acts like a whiny, self-absorbed child in the first minute of the film, and is exactly the same at the end of the film. She has no chemistry with Rhett Butler at all, and he seems to end up with her out of resignation rather than anything else. He finally makes the first sensible act in the film when he tells her to fuck off. The pacing is all over the place, and it's easily an hour or so too long. Pretty dresses and a city on fire are basically the 1930's equivelent of gratuitous CGI. And the film is astonishingly racist.

  • Upvote 3
  • Downvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tell you what: Gone With The Wind is fucking shit. Scarlett O'Hara is one of the most unlikeable characters in all fiction. She acts like a whiny, self-absorbed child in the first minute of the film, and is exactly the same at the end of the film. She has no chemistry with Rhett Butler at all, and he seems to end up with her out of resignation rather than anything else. He finally makes the first sensible act in the film when he tells her to fuck off. The pacing is all over the place, and it's easily an hour or so too long. Pretty dresses and a city on fire are basically the 1930's equivelent of gratuitous CGI. And the film is astonishingly racist.

"Franky my dear, you can fuck the fuck off."

I mis-spelled frankly and thought it was funnier that way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re Metropolis, can someone who knows tell me which version of this I should watch. There's a version on Netflix US called 'Metropolis Restored' and there's a fancy Masters of Cinema blu ray for example. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The MoC Blu-ray - which I have - is the best by far imo. It's a blinder. Having said that, I'm not sure what the US Netflix one is.

As to the general premise, I don't think the age of a film has much to do with it really (except insofar as it might relate to the age of the viewer). It's like anything else - you either love the form or don't. People who can only tolerate or put the 'effort' into throwaway formulaic stuff will not bother to seek out anything beyond some of what's currently offered up to them. On the other hand, if they crave more - a lot more - than that, they'll soon run out of current options and mine earlier eras, and their understanding of the form will grow and fuel itself, encouraging them to try further afield still. People who refuse to watch 'black and white' or 'silent' or 'subtitled' films have a limited palette - just like people who'll only read new best-selling novels, or listen to chart/radio/TV music in certain genres, they'll only go the the flicks or rent a DVD to see something that's within a small and familiar range. They like to be in a comfort zone, and don't relish the challenge of going outside it. Some people are the opposite.

All I really mean is that those people aren't 'against the past' as such - they'd be equally against anything that's new and challenging. They just stick to what's familiar. A massive generalisation, but so is the premise here. You're either a lover/buff, or you're not. Lovers/buffs are greedy and enthusiastic about the form and want to know more about it, to understand it better and be stretched by it. Passive consumers just want an easy hour or two.

Snobbery ftw.

  • Upvote 5
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love a lot of 80s/90s films, but who doesn't. But I have to say I haven't seen a lot of old films. I'd really like to though, especially the classics. Last year when I went on holiday, on our plane they had a section for classic movies. So whilst everyone was watching the likes of Snow White and the Huntsman and The Avengers I stuck on Dial M for Murder as I've always wanted to see it. Gotta say, I really enjoyed it. Even though it pretty much takes place in 1 room, I just thought it was excellent. I really want to watch some more Hitchcock and must make a point of seeking out more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.