Thursday, June 23, 2011

Classic movies--priceless?

I just bought one of my favorite movies, one of the most influential movies of all time, Bonnie and Clyde, for five dollars. My friend and I were at Wally World, buying some blank DVD's on which to put our latest slasher creation (more on that later,) and there was a big bin of movies for five dollars--the best place for finding terrible low budget horror films, which I love. The bin was not organized in any particular way; simply a three foot wide, royal-blue, mesh cylinder filled to the brim with cheap entertainment. And buried somewhere in the pile was the classic, Bonnie and Clyde.

The good thing about this is, I now own and hour and a half of Faye Dunaway and I didn't even spend as much as I would have to buy a small sandwich. The bad thing is, this terribly important movie was tossed away into this bin and that isn't how movies should be treated.

This makes me displeased about, well, the way movies are presented to us that so many people just accept. A lot of things make me displeased about this, but this particular incident is a nice punctuation to my thought sentence that warranted a blog post about it.

According to my very intelligent film studies teacher, as well as, well, film studies in general, Bonnie and Clyde is a pretty important film. A super important film. It changed how violence was depicted, it cemented the place of two legendary cultural icons, it launched Fay Dunaways career (guys, I LOVE Faye Dunaway. She was the most beautiful woman in the world in 1968,) it won too many awards to count, it changed cinema (and America? yes?) forever. It is not only a classic, it is one of the few movies that I think can be considered one of the classics. But more on that later.
Is it right for this movie to be thrown in a bin while other, more recent movies like Red Riding Hood or Gnomeo and Juliet are displayed and played on display televisions? What message does that give?

Considering how many mainstream audiences seem to feel about old movies, in that, they refuse to watch them or understand them in context, it gives the message that old movies are unimportant and new movies are important. It's amazing how many of my very intelligent friends believe that many movies coming out today are brilliant and amazing, but also refuse to watch or respect anything made before their lifetime--where, I think, many of the best movies were made.

Obviously, this is a necessary marketing technique to keep the movie industry running--arguably we should sometimes end up with a movie that has the potential to be a Bonnie and Clyde forty seven years from now, and without all the stagnant movies in between that wouldn't be able to happen.

However, classic films such as Bonnie and Clyde are a part of our culture--nearly just as much as classic literature--or, as much as I'd hate to see this, more in upcoming generations. So much so, I believe, that major cultural and educational changes in the way we look at film are warranted: at the very least, stores selling films should have a "classics" section where films like this are displayed and treated with the respect they deserve. Really, they should be displayed with other films and noted as being more important--slap Bonnie and Clyde next to Fast Five on the shelf with a note: Vin Diesel wouldn't be allowed to carry a gun if this movie didn't happen. At the most extreme level of treating these movies as culturally significant, I think film should start holding more weight in regular school curricula. Not only would this connect to literature--it is hard to find a modern cultural facet more influenced by literature than film--it would provide a basis for understanding so much about our popular culture and social culture, just as literature does. I'm certainly not saying that traditional English classes should be replaced by film studies classes, (even though I do have my own issues with traditional high school English classes,) but I think we're going to begin seeing, if we haven't seen already, film becoming an even more massively important part of our culture--it is very possibly already as important to us as books were important to the centuries before us (please, oh culture lord in media heaven, do not let films replace books.) Film is also a fantastic way to learn about history--there needs to be more emphasis on modern history in schools, as well, and there is no better way to learn about life in a specific time than to watch a film, fictional or non fictional, from then. There are so many cultural references and segments of history that I understand because I had the opportunity to take a film studies class and therefore watch a lot of great films that I may not have watched otherwise--however, not everyone has that opportunity.

Which brings me to my last point, another good thing about Bonnie and Clyde being on sale for five dollars at Wal-Mart. If movies are just as culturally relevant and important as books, then they should be readily available to everyone--even though being buried at the bottom of the five dollar film bin isn't exactly readily available. I'm somewhat appaled that this fantastic film was selling for so little while standing next to some Katherine Heigle formla film being sold for probably four times as much. However, part of me feels like movies this important should be available for free--like classics on Kindle. We are only three years away from the 100 year anniversary of the first full length feature film, meaning, I believe, if it were in book form, it would enter the public domain. It's only so long before lots of influential films gain that status--and should the same idea be applied? Should Itunes advertise free classic flims, to encourage young people to watch them? Should they just advertise them anyways? (yes.) Does making these films cheap make them more accessible or simply lower them to a status below new unimpressive films and next to low budget horror movies? Can any price be put on viewing a piece of culture that affects much of our media today? Is culture truly priceless?

I'm conflicted about it, but regardless: Bonnie and Clyde. In a five dollar bin. Seriously? Get with it, Wal mart and customers.

Also, Faye Dunaway in the sixties. So beautiful. 

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