For over 100 years, moving pictures have evolved into some of the world’s largest spectacles that aren’t sports. Racking in millions and billions of dollars in ticket sales, downloads, and DVD sales, movies are doing well for themselves, and over time we have seen the classics stand true and the new age of cinema make it’s presence felt. The question for many becomes, “are old films better or are new films better?”
Extreme sides would argue that older films, because they are older, have to be better because without them there wouldn’t be what we have today. True…sort of. Then on the other side of the argument people would say. “With all the advancements in film, they can only be getting better.” True…sort of.
Granted, those are the extreme examples, but both sides have arguments to make, but my take (as usual) tends to be in the middle portion of both sides. I look at this debate through only one lens and that involves seeing who did what better, not who did it first or last. Sure, there are outdated films and they deserve to be outdated, but that happens every year in film, you don’t think most of Adam Sandler’s films are dated and worth seeing do you? But along the way there are endless films that, if never made, would not have paved the way for most of the films that we have today nor the advancements in styles of acting, directing, writing, among all other aspects of film making.
Movies themselves are always subjective, not everyone will enjoy a film you like or vise versa and that’s the beauty of having so many films choose from. There are more films being made every year now then there were every five years decades prior. Film is everywhere and they will have a prior source to thank one way or another. They say nothing is original and through the eyes of a cynic-realist type, they may be right, but it’s the execution of the story that should do all the talking.
I was watching 12 Angry Men a few weeks ago to discover how excellently it held up after being made in 1957 and it was because of it’s fluid dialogue. The film takes place in one room for 95% of the film and you are floored by the way all the scenes play out. There will never be a film that does that first again, but it has followers in the film world that look at that film and do it marvelously. The idea of a movie being set in one confined area has been commonplace for films like Tom Hardy’s Locke, Ryan Reynold’s in Buried, and Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is likely to be the next film up. There is not likely a Locke without 12 Angry Men, but they somehow stay distant in plot. What this all means is: they coexist with each other.
There is no good answer to which side is better than the other because what constitutes an old film? What are you critiquing the films on? And what does it matter? Film’s change as often as the people making them, but what’s beautiful in the end is the longevity of this medium so many of us love. We can enjoy a Charlie Chaplin video, but still enjoy The 40 Year Old Virgin or watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs before we re-watch Finding Nemo for a hundredth time. Why? Because old and new movies have their place atop our lists of entertainment and limiting ourselves to such great cinema is like saying you like cheesecake without ever trying it outside of the Cheesecake Factory. Broaden your horizons….