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Do You Watch Or Avoid Classic Films?

By , 6 March, 2009, No Comment

A few of my movie night friends and I were trying to come up with a schedule of films for our next few gatherings and we ended discussing “classic films”. There are just those in my group who think “classic” means “old” — and they mean that in a bad way! — whereas others think that films need to be of a certain age in order to be called “classic”.

Our talk swirled & spiraled around the supposed accuracy of such a label — just who has the right to authentically denote such films as classic?

Individually, we all use that word “classic” to mean different things, including, but not limited to, the use of the word to express a kitsch hilarity which many of my friends and I feel is nearly the antithesis of what film critics intend the “classic film” moniker to mean. We then came up with the idea of denoting such critically acclaimed “classic” films as Classic Film or at least “Classic” with a capital ‘c’; leaving our personally exclaimed “classics” to the little ‘c’.

But this brought up the issue of film snobbery & supposed (or perceived) film snobbery and the related issue of films so famous, so entrenched in popular culture, that we avoid seeing them. As one of my friends said about A Streetcar Named Desire:

The film and that line have permeated popular culture to the point where it has reached iconic status. Not only do we feel we “get it” from this referential culture-point, but the legendary status gives the property such a build-up that one may wish to avoid the film for fear it will not live up to the expectations.

Sometimes, this popularity & intensity hype is rather short-lived. For example, I only had to wait to see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial until it’s 20th anniversary edition was released — because that’s how long it took the hype to die down enough, to let me forget enough, so that I felt like I might just enjoy it if I watched it.

I know you might think 20 years is a long time — but it’s shorter than the entire lifetimes people avoid some films for.

In my little group of film watching friends, quite a number of us have been avoiding and refusing Classic Films (and probably some classic films too) for all sorts of reasons… Sometimes, the greater the film’s reputation, the more more strongly we dig our heels in and avoid being dragged to see it. But no more.

Now we’re challenging ourselves to watch what we’ve formerly refused for being “too old,” “so iconic”, etc. So keep an eye on my new “Classic Schmassic” category where I’ll be discussing just what films we’re finally dusting off and facing — and why.

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  • laural

    I love watching ‘classic’ films (with a big or little ‘c’)! The thing that really grinds my gears is the film snobbery of loving a movie just because it is a classic. I used to be in this ‘film club’ and it didn’t matter how boring or awful the movie was- if it was a ‘classic’ or had a big name director they couldn’t stop praising it! So my advice would be watch any movie you want and just remember to decide for yourself whether it was a good movie. (Besides arguing about movies with friends is half the fun!)

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