Old movies aren’t just for boomers

Why young people are avoiding old cinema- and shouldn’t. 

Movies today are fast-paced, made to capture the viewer’s attention and keep it. In the words of director Martin Scorsese:  they are “roller coasters”, created more for the amusement of the audience than for the art of the craft. For young people, a fun ride may be more desirable, but that is worrisome for the cinema industry which is quickly going out of style. 

It seems that young people are avoiding films older than the 2000s, according to a poll of 1,000 millennials and 1,000 Americans over the age of 50 taken by FYE.com. It said that millennials were much more likely to have binged movies within the last 15 years than any other time, meaning old movies were out of the Friday-night-in agenda. 

This may have to do with most films nowadays being made to fit into the “blockbuster box,” meaning they follow particular common tropes and themes that producers and directors know will reel in the most money. A lot of these tend to be franchises that, since they did well with the first movie in the box-offices, are drawn out and squeezed of every dime they can make. Some of these include the “Fast and Furious” series, “Jurassic Park”, all Marvel movies, “Star Wars” and the list goes on.

I cannot argue that the first or even first couple movies in these franchises were not decent films; some of them were skillful cinematic works. It is after they are only being created with money in mind, however, that they begin to fall out of the cinema category and become mere one to three hour distractions from your daily activities. They no longer focus on the characters and on human nature and how people at their core work or solve problems; they are at this point shocks and thrills that are not really so thrilling, but at least provide entertainment.

 On IMDB’s top 100 movies list, only 12 percent were made in the past 15 years. Most of the greatest films were made in the 1940s-1970s (which held 44 percent of IMDB’s list), when cinema was alive and thriving. At that point in time, creativity was at its highest in the film industry and many of the most famous directors we know today such as Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick, Spielberg and Coppola were in their prime, along with many more. At that time being far-out and unique was exalted and rewarded, producing some truly irreplaceable and unduplicable cinema. 

Of course, there are bad films of every decade, but the ratio today is much worse. For every well-made and thought-through movie, there seem to be 30 that were made for the money. Action and excitement sells, and so do well-known characters. It is this satisfaction with movies that only have okay storylines with few unique shots but with high production value that is a major issue with youth today. The reason people are buying into them, though, is simple. The common millennial would rather let their mind go blank for a while than put a lot of thought into what they are viewing. 

Sure, it is nice to take a break from school or jobs and just let your mind rest while watching something that can give you a few quick laughs and a couple “oohs” and “ahhs.” When those are the only movies, though, that people are going into theatres to see or downloading, the real art pieces are not getting recognition and are therefore losing in the industry. Old movies tend to be slow, there is no doubt about it. They sometimes can even drag, and seem grueling to watch. Even I have begun some old films and stopped midway through because I could not stand it; “Planet of the Apes” is definitely one of those. Despite the sometimes sluggish beginnings though, they are often worth it, due to the cinematic value. 

Cinema is all about the “art of the production of movies”; that is the definition. There is a big difference between a movie and a cinematic work. Movie is a broad term, and only some within it fall into the cinema category. Cinema means a story with depth and layers is being told, it is applying human creativity and passion into a film. The slow movement of the story in older films must be looked past, because by the end of it the viewer will not have wasted those few hours of their life. They will have witnessed human ingenuity at its rawest, and may have learned something they could not have elsewhere.