We all know those classic titles of ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘Casablanca’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ amongst many others, but how many of them have you actually watched? Well my answer was none, so I went on a little classic movies binge and watched a few. I watched ‘Gone with the Wind’ (a four hour movie) ‘Casablanca’ and ‘The Murder on the Orient Express’ (this one is from the 70’s) and whilst watching them I couldn’t help but notice some differences to movies nowadays, and I’m not just talking black and white v colour, I mean the whole message and concepts of movies seem to have evolved or if you rather deteriorate.
Firstly, let me start by saying Casablanca was a really great movie and if you want to watch a classic movie but don’t know where to start it is one I would recommend beginning with. It’s easy to follow, not a long movie, and great actors. ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a long one but is also a really beautifully filmed piece with a story line that feels never ending but still isn’t overly complicated. Whilst Murder on the Orient Express is a good duration time and feels like it has every famous person of that era, I wasn’t as happy with the ending.
Back to the discussion on the movies in general. The one thing that stood out the most in these movies especially Casablanca and Gone with the Wind, is that each shot could be an artwork. The filming feels and looks very different to today’s movies, possibly because of the evolution of technology. I feel as though films were an art form when these classics were created, so their main aim was to depict scenery. Not to say that they aren’t an art form now, because they are, but it’s become more about the use of technological advancements to bring a ‘wow’ factor. For example, CGI is something in almost every movie in the 21st century, even on simple scenes of landscape. It’s become a new art form of its own. And maybe that’s the thing, just like in traditional art where we have different epochs of Cubism, Impressionism, Pop Art, Art Nouveau movies too have different epochs. At least that’s how I’m seeing it.
Obviously we have the difference in colour, Casablanca was the only film in the ones I watched to be in monochrome, but whilst the other two were in colour it definitely wasn’t the vibrant – pop of colour you expect from today’s films. I’d be interested to know if that was because of the camera types/quality from the 1930’s or if it is a reflection again on technological advancements where the movies we watch today are almost Photo-shopped for brightness.
Lastly, the actors are a major part of all films, and whilst it can be very much about the actor rather than the movie in this generation – I find we as a society are all about ‘oh have you seen the new Tom Cruise movie that’s coming out soon’ (feel free to replace Tom Cruise with any actor you, truth be told I’ve never seen a Tom Cruise movie in its entirety but he’s the first person that came to mind). I kind of think this was true for the classic movies too. The big names grab the attention and then the content holds the viewer. Take for instance the Murder on the Orient Express, it has ALL the big names, you may not recognise them but the names will sound familiar – Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins and Vanessa Redgrave, to name a few.
So have you watched any of these classic movies, or maybe some that I didn’t mention? Let me know which one’s I should watch next, and if you picked up on any differences between classic and current movies.
“Baby you’re so classic”