By Emma Buchman
When I was eight, I watched “Jaws” for the very first time. It very quickly became my favorite movie and has followed me throughout my life and major milestones. As I got older, I allowed myself to see more of it. When I was around 16, I finally watched Quint’s death scene at a time when I finally knew what death meant. And when I was 17, I finally had the courage to watch Hooper become petrified when Ben Gardener’s severed head floated out from the wreck of his fishing boat. It is a cinematic masterpiece and a reminder to us all of how great movies can be in a time when any bozo can create a production company. That is why it is so upsetting to me that so many people have never seen “Jaws,” and what this implies about how all of us watch movies.
I am not trying to belittle the movies made today. So many of them are phenomenal and wonderful to watch. I am also not saying that bad movies were never made until the 2000s. I mean, just look at “Trolls 2:” that movie was made in 1990, a year before the five-time Oscar winning “The Silence of the Lambs.” But bad movies are not why most people go into the film industry. In today’s world many of them are inspired by the brilliant writers, actors, and directors of the past.
Understanding cinema throughout the 20th century is crucial to understanding the film of today. Firstly because they set the standard for how films are made today. Secondly, they allow audiences to examine how our society has progressed over time.
First we’ll discuss film standards. So often, I hear people talk about things being unoriginal. That thought has crossed my mind when I read old books and watch old movies. And that is when I have to slap myself, hard, across the face. Because these stories aren’t trying to be originals. They are the originals. This is something that too many people disregard when looking at film today.
Plus, so many people are disgusted by the quality of movies and then complain that there is nothing good is out there to watch. There are so many movies of the past waiting to be watched and enjoyed, and all anyone can focus is on is the crappy action movie that came and left theaters in a two week’s time.
The second reason old movies are important is because it shows not only how the technology of film has advanced, but how our world has changed as well. We’ll use “Jaws” again as an example. While the film was very accurate when it came to shark expert Matt Hooper, there were also many inaccuracies as well. Sharks across the world were overfished and forced into endangerment because everyone believed that sharks purposefully attacked humans and were purposefully violent. Once they saw the film, people did not realize that the shark from “Jaws” was merely an outlier- a really, really out there outlier. After he realized what the film had caused, the author of the novel that inspired the film, Peter Benchley, began to raise money to raise awareness for sharks and help stop the constant slaughter. Today, most of us know that sharks are not rabid man-eaters, but magnificent creatures that need our protection.
Essentially, there are just certain movies over time that need to be watched. It goes beyond temporary entertainment. They make you appreciate what the cinematic world has been held accountable for over the many years. They watch society grow and acknowledge how its actions change over time.
More importantly, however, they watch you grow as well. Those movies that have been around your entire life, or even before it, follow you and take up a special place in your heart. These films make you better appreciate the world around you and, while they show you societie’s developments, they allow you to observe your personal developments for yourself.
Photo courtesy of www.nashuachamber.com.