Tre Ventour is a young film fan but says his generation is missing out on the pleasures of older movies…
“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge”
Lady Galadriel, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Some would call it a gross generalisation but I’d disagree and say that the above quote perfectly describes the teenage / twenty-something’s attitude towards watching older films (pre-1975 / 1980).
In my experience I’ve found that Golden Age films and classic cinema has lost its appeal to the young, as the teens and twenty-something of today trade in Casablanca for Tony Stark and The Godfather for The First Order. Trying to talk about black and white and older films with many of my own age group can be testing, as I’m often cut short with terms like “boring” and “where’s the action?”
It doesn’t end with films made before the 1980s. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster” is said by Henry Hill in what I’d argue is the best mob movie ever made. Directed by Martin Scorsese, I’ve witnessed Goodfellas (1990) dropped in the same “this is boring” basket as Ben-Hur, Spartacus, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather and Citizen Kane. And I’ve been told a film made in 1990 is “old” as well. The mob classic is by no means an old film, or a boring one.
I’ve loved the moving picture ever since I was a kid and watching the Carry On films and other TCM classics at my grandparents’ house in Northampton was a treat. And I still rewatch Kenneth Williams, Sid James and Barbara Windsor and their comedic antics. Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979 have become a fast favourite of mine too. History in any form is not a common preference of my generation with many of my peers choosing to watch films from this century rather than the last.
From Elia Kazan (East of Eden) to Hitchcock (Vertigo) to Kubrick (Lolita) to Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now), unless we’re talking about The Original Trilogy (Star Wars) or Indiana Jones, getting two words about 20th century cinema from millennials is a hard sell. On The Waterfront, Mildred Pierce, Sunset Boulevard, Rear Window, Psycho, Mutiny on the Bounty, A Streetcar Named Desire, Double Indemnity… need I go on?
However, when I spent a week in Spain this summer with my grandparents, my grandmother said she’d rather stick with the classics than watch the new stuff, unlike my grandfather who would rather watch big and glitzy superhero films and other blockbusters. I like blockbusters as much as many. The twenty-first century’s franchises, remakes, reboots and sequels are entertaining, but often when it comes to story, I’m left grasping for more. There’s so much classic cinema out there and both Netflix and Amazon Prime have a selection.
Yet, there’s a split between millennials and a split between the mature generations as well. There are young people out there who like older films made before the 70s / 80s and those who don’t. The same can be said for their parents and grandparets’ generation too.
Eight out of ten of my top ten films were made last century, seven of which before 1970. The other two are Midnight in Paris (2011) and Fire in Babylon (2010), Stevan Riley’s documentary on the unbeatable West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s.
In conclusion, it’s not a crime to like both. However, in my millennial opinion, classic cinema and the Golden Age has the edge, even they’re a dying breed.