08 August, 2011

The Age of Cinema

Heads Up! This post is not at all as epic as it's title suggests. It has nothing to do with the actual age of cinema, nor does it have to do with the age at which you can watch a movie. It deals more with the age at which you should watch a movie. What I plan to talk about is two simple yet important questions that to me are basically two sides of the same coin;

1. When is a good time to make children watch the modern classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and the likes?

2. Does a movie say The Goonies or Stand By Me, if viewed by an adult now for the first time, have the same effect they had on the masses when they were initially released?

To start off with the first question, recently I made a group of four children/young adults aged 10-15 watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off. For me, the movie is the ultimate feel good movie. I do have to point out that I watched it much later in my life (late 20s) and it has stayed in my favourites ever since the first viewing. Not only did it take a lot of convincing before the four young adults agreed to watch it (they were having an X-Men marathon and the third disc wasn't working resulting in a movie change), but when I told them about some film essentials like "The Breakfast Club" all I got in return was laughter and that the sequel is probably called "The Lunch Club". I feared the outcome of this.  

Now, the reviews of Ferris Bueller's Day Off were somewhat mixed. They laughed at most comic scenes. The heavy philosophical scenes might have been a bit too much, I'm not sure. I asked them to give me a short review and this is what they said;

Sehar (15): The film is just full on entertainment. From the acting to the storyline to Ferris' impromptu performance, everything makes the audience wish that they were living the teenagers life.

Maha (13): I did not enjoy this movie very much. I found the plot quite cheesy and the acting was over the top. However, in places it was quite funny and enjoyable sometimes.

Harun (13): I thought that the movie was very funny and entertaining, and the idea of the film was good. However I would have really liked the movie to have a scene with Cameron and his dad arguing about the ferrari.

Hashim (10): The movie was really funny and I liked how the principle stopped at nothing to catch Ferris.

My question after this little experiment is that what is a good age to watch some of the modern classics? I often wonder if I would not have liked Ferris had I seen it earlier in life? For example, just as I found out about movies like The Breakfast Club (seen again in my late 20s) through forums and twitter, should these be discovered by the younger generation on their own? Or is it that with time something like Say Anything or 16 Candles will slowly move into the group of movies that should be viewed by everyone, but just are not? Will my daughter (almost 4) consider Harry Potter and Twilight as the modern classics and consider the movies of 70s and 80s and even 90s too old to be viewed? Only time will tell.

Moving on to my next question, which came to my mind when @movieanarchist on twitter recently stated that they did not like Stand By Me. This adult had seen the movie for the first time, and putting his review aside (no disrespect) what I tried to figure out was that had it been watched at the time of its release or when the said person was younger (closer to the age of the characters in the movie) would he have liked it?

Take The Last Emperor. It is one of the few movies from my childhood that I remember watching and liking. It is a rather strong drama and by no means is a children's film, but then why do I remember watching it? The only connection I could figure out was that it features a child in the title role. Once again the question arises, should the younger generation be introduced to movies like The Goonies at their age or should we just let it be?

Recently I saw people talk about Super 8 with a sense of nostalgia linking it to the movies of the past. Does age and the time you watch a movie really have an effect on you liking it? What would people think of Super 8 if they have not seen the movies they relate it with (Goonies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)? Could it be that the age you watch a movie at is almost as important as the content of the movie? I know I watched most of the modern classics in the late 20s and liked most of them, but maybe I need to dig deeper and watch some more and see if this theory holds true?

I do know one thing. Whatever the case, when the time comes I'll make sure my daughter get to watch these modern classics even if I have to pay her to sit and watch them.

If you have any thoughts about this, you know what to do smarty pants :-) 


  1. I've always been worried that the classics will fade into obscurity and that the next generation won't have the intelligence to admire how revolutionary films like Citizen Kane were. I interviewed some kids for a post a few months back, and I was surprised at the different reactions I got to the questions from the kids of different ages. I think that gauging the reactions of kids of different ages is an effective idea to figuring out exactly what they look for in a movie, and why so many of them are rejecting what we'd refer to as classics, and will look into doing that for the future. This was a great and insightful post.

  2. Hi Tyler, Thank you for the comment. I fear the same and that's why I will make sure that my daughter at least views these movies. Obviously whether she likes it or not is her opinion, but they must be seen.

  3. This has always been something that has worried me. Growing up films such as the Goonies had such an effect on my childhood and to have movies of that calibre forgotten about by the next generation is very, very sad.

    One good thing for these classics is that we do tend to get some media coverage when it is time for a new special edition release on DVD (which to be honest only reminds us how old we are), but the hard part is to get the new generation to actually sit and watch them. Trying to sell a film from the 80s/90s that inst in HD or have spectacular CGI to a kid is very difficult in this modern era of technology.

    Maybe it is the case that these films are just remembered as the films of our generation, we can do our best to encourage our kids to watch them but they will of course have there own movies which they will consider to be classics and become the movies of there generation. A sad thought to think that the kids of the future will miss out on such films as The Goonies and Ferris Buller, but we can always hold on to the fact that they are the movies that moulded our generation :-)!

  4. Thanks Mark. Totally agree with you. One side of me says that they need to discover these gems on their own, like I did later than most, but then the risk of them not seeing any one of these movies is even more. Cheers!

  5. Just lead by example and hope for the best.

  6. What a great post! I have been wondering the same lately. My younger brother and I are in the middle of a Star Wars marathon, just as the one you mention of X-Men. We've seen the original trilogy so far (Episode IV, V & VI) and I really liked them, especially Empire Strikes Back. I had never seen them before. Well, I had seen some parts of them, but I had never paid much attention to them. What I thought was, would I have liked them more had I seen them when I was a child? Or would I have liked them more had I seen them when they were originally released? (I didn't even exist at that time, as I was born in 1994). You know, I am so used to today's special effects that maybe I can't appreciate the movies as much as I would have done in the 80s. The same happened to me when I watched some Hitchcock movies (Psyco and Rear Window). I loved them, but I couldn't help notice that some scenes looked quite fake, and that in Rear Window there wasn't even music in the climax, which is meant to be the most exciting part of the movie. Would that have happened have I seen them in the 50s? I don't think so. The effect is definitely different.

    But at the same time, I'm really grateful of the movies I loved as a child and I know don't have the same effect if you watch them when you're older. For instance, I watched the first HP movie when I was seven, and I was marvelled. I read the books then and I became obsessed with HP. I played I was a wizard as well, I pretended that tree roots were wands, and I even hoped I would get a letter from Hogwarts at my eleventh birthday. Of course, if I watched HP for the first time now that I am 17 I wouldn't do any of those things. So I am really, really happy I watched that HP movie when I was seven.

    BTW, I saw The Breakfast Club last week for the first time and I am sure it wouldn't have the same effect if I were older. I'm living the same as those characters, I can feel identified, and that wouldn't happen later.

    PS: Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Sixteen Candles are in my watchlist :D

  7. Thanks Guadi for the lovely comment. It's good to know your point of view and what you said about Star Wars is so interesting, coming the special effects of "then" with "now". Great insight. Although honestly, I still have to watch 16 Candles myself, People have told me The Sandlot is amazing as well. I would put Ferris Bueller on top of your list ;-) thanks

  8. Interesting experiment, Raghav. I think movie taste just change over time, I don't know... it's funny how some movies stand the test of time if you will, but some 'classics' just don't get the same love from younger generation.

    I feel the same way as Guadi when I saw some older films/classics that I've missed out on. Though I appreciate some aspects of them, the lack of sophisticated special effects and even the acting style kind of bother me at times, but the slower pace is perhaps the biggest issue of all. But of course, there are some movies I still enjoy despite those quibbles, i.e. It's a Wonderful Life

  9. HI Ruth, I feel the same way. Also individual opinion comes into play. But in general it seems that the younger generation will slowly think less and less of the "classics". God forbid if 3D becomes the trademark I can imagine my daughter going, "what you didn't have 3D... how old!" Thanks for the comment.