Old Films Are Gold Films: A student shares their opinion on what makes a film “great.”

Over the past semester I have written multiple movie reviews for this paper, and I am sure you have often wondered, “Why the heck does he always write about those stupid old movies? What is he, some old person?” First, I must confess that, sadly, I am rather eldery before my time, (I often wear khakis and white sneakers, and complain about gen Z). But, leaving my sad elderly state aside, I wish to explain to you why I like these “stupid old movies”; it seemed only fair after I plagued you with my opinions for so long. 

First of all, just because a movie is old does not mean it is better. Trust me, it can often mean the opposite. Pick a random movie from all the movies made in the 1940s and most likely you will watch a very boring movie filled with corny dialog, characters who seem to be no more than cardboard cutouts of a stereotype, stories that end in unrealistic happiness, generally all packaged in some cheesy moral message. To add to the misery, the movie will be filmed like a stage play, with the camera rotating back and forth between two or three angles. So let me be clear, I do not like old movies because they are old, and a majority of old movies can and should be forgotten forever. 

Now, I must explain why I dislike new movies. First, what people classify as a good movie today is very sad to say the least. One group of movies that are considered to be “good” are the action packed entertainment flicks. The other group includes any movie that has a feeling of artistic flair, that does anything different or has something different to say. I reject both these groups, since the first provides only a slice of what a movie should provide, and the second is considered great only on the false assumption that being different or new, always means great artistry.   

Just because our society values mediocre movies does not mean that great films are not being made. In fact, I would argue that this very year, somewhere in the world, there could be a movie being made that will rival the greatness of Citizen Kane, or Vertigo. But finding this movie could be practically impossible. Many great movies, such as the two previously mentioned, were flops on their release. It can take decades for a film’s true greatness to be understood, or for the movie to even be discovered. People will long debate what makes a great film and what films deserve this title, but I believe there is one judge superior to all of them, and that is time. Time has a clever way of weeding out the bad movies from the good ones. Twenty years from now, the greatest films made in 2022 may be films we have never heard of. 

This is the main reason I watch old films. Simply, because they have passed the test of time. An old movie can not be a short term trend. It can not live off of media hype or advertising campaigns. It can not live off a temporary political ideology. It must appeal to multiple generations and multiple decades. Put simply, what it says and what it shows must be universal and must be something of genuine quality if it wants to stand the test of time, and become known as a great work of cinema.

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