Classic movies continue to shape the film industry today

Noelle Henry

Classic movies are eternal. They are often referenced in popular culture and everyday conversations. They are those movies that you can watch time and time again and feel the same happiness you felt that first time you saw it. They’re mentioned in today’s movies, literature and art, and they still matter.

Radio-television-film professor Kathy Fuller-Seeley said that a classic stands the test of time and involves characters you can relate and a story that intrigues you. She said classic films are created by all the elements of cinematography coming together in a memorable way.

“It’s not just the story and the characters and the stars who play them and the director and cinematographer who makes the look,” Fuller-Seeley said. “It involves all those things.”

 Famous classic movies range from silent films like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Casablanca,” to “The Godfather” and “Groundhog Day.” Fuller-Seeley said classics can come in all forms, such as comedies, dramas, musicals, gangster movies and westerns.

Sophomore radio-television-film major Tuesday Becker said she thinks classic movies reflect the era they are made in. Becker said the movie “Can’t Buy Me Love” as an example of iconic pop culture in the 80s, where cheesy romance stories and Patrick Dempsey-types were idolized.

With movies that reflect obstacles related to the time in which they were produced, such as “Sunset Boulevard,” which marked the transition from silent films to sound films, it can be hard to understand why they still resonate with people today.

The popularity of historic classics can be attributed to streaming platforms, Fuller-Seeley said. Additionally, she said the longevity of the classics has a lot to do with the audience. “The Wizard of Oz” was not a hit when it first came out, but younger generations loved
it, Fuller-Seeley said.

“Classics are being made at different times and different places,” Fuller-Seeley said. “Sometimes it’s when they first make it and sometimes it falls flat and people come later and say, ‘Wait, revisit this movie,’ and now it’s a classic.”

Classics are still being made today, film professor Charles Ramírez Berg said. “No Country for Old Men” and “Memento” are examples of recent movies that are only 10 to 15 years old and that people return to over and over again, Berg said.

“If you want to understand anything, art, music, literature, film, you have to understand the tradition. You start watching movies and you start making connections and seeing how one film influenced another,” Berg said.

Even if you’re not a film major, watching classic movies can be beneficial to any student because they allow you to get a deeper understanding of the past, Becker said. She said people can experience and understand the emotions that their family members did when the film originally came out.

“It connects individuals to the past and to their ancestors,” said Becker. “And you get to see predecessors to your current
favorite movies.”