Reporter’s notes

Chris Kallio

No debate necessary: films are evolutionary

The argument has often been made that movies of the past far outweigh the significance and quality of the films of today. On the other hand, others argue that today’s films are better. This is a generational argument, and the former argument will someday be made by the latter group.

Are the films of yesteryear superior to today’s? Not necessarily.

Well, then, today’s films are better? No, not quite.

Film, just like the theater, literature and other art forms, is an evolutionary medium.

Terrific movies have been in existence since the beginning of film. Many of the finer films of any given generation – the films some have shown as proof of the era’s greatest – are perpetual because of nostalgia.

“The Goonies” is a fine example. It is difficult to compare the film to movies that were a zenith to generations before. Yet, like these films, “The Goonies” will remain a treasure of the corresponding college-aged generation.

Much like many films of the 1980s, the score, the humor and the adventurous tone of “The Goonies” makes it a delight to watch – even today. In many ways, it’s nostalgia; in other ways, it’s just exceptional.

“Babes in Toyland” from 1934 has similar attributes. These movies are only “dated” in the eyes of those who choose not to understand the evolution of film and appreciate the works of the past.

The reasons for why “old” or “new” movies are said to be better are endless – on both sides. Some have claimed that older movies lack the rawness of newer movies; while others argue that newer films are gratuitous in their depiction of some things. Are these really the arguments that should be made on this debate? A child watching “The Wizard of Oz” or any of the “Harry Potter” films for the first time does not recognize these pointless complaints.

Those who claim their generation’s films are better than the others before or after, are forgetting that each generation has inspired and helped shape the next. Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick’s filmmaking begat the works of Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, whose filmmaking begat Sam Mendes and Paul Thomas Anderson’s. Without Marlon Brando, there would be no Robert De Niro. If Charlie Chaplin had not roller-skated while blindfolded and sang a song in total gibberish, then perhaps Steve Martin would not find such motivation for motion comedy in “The Jerk.”

Motion pictures began with thinkers and inventors and evolved into an entertainment industry. Researcher Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th century animal locomotion studies, which used cameras to create motion, would inspire William Dickson and Thomas Edison to create motion picture cameras. This would then inspire Georges MéliŠs to fly a “rocket” into the “moon” in “A Trip to the Moon,” which would inspire “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903, followed by “The Birth of a Nation” twelve years later, is remarkable and wonderful. The rest is history.

If it were not for these inventors, we would conceivably not be witness to a famous mouse committing an infamous act of laziness and neglect in “Fantasia” or a galaxy far, far away…

We must ultimately appreciate the accomplishments of each generation’s filmmaking. To pretend that one generation has committed a movie act of greatness without the success and determination of those before it is foolish. At the same time, to think that it will not help shape future films is na’ve.

Contact all reporter Chris Kallio at [email protected].