Thoughts today as as wistful look as to why myself and others watch ‘classic Film”? Why do we see these celluloid examples of stories past with an affection when others that we talk to stare at us in disbelief that we would dare to watch ” a movie without color”. I had someone say that to me with the remark that he was ‘not as old as me”. Got me to thinking do you need to have some sort of life experience no matter what to watch these pictures. So why do we fill our PVR’s, buy dvds and blurays of the same films just get a commentary or a few new scenes added of long dead people from a place that doesn’t for the most part exist anymore. I don’t pretend to have the answer for all or maybe even for some but I have ideas and feelings.
My day began like any other day at my job however the morning check of facebook brought a very sad story to my attention. The simple story of a small neglected kitten that had died at a rescue home after being unable to have enough nourishment in time from its barbaric biped owners. Was amazing the effect the little photo of the kitten being fed by an eyed dropper desperately trying to undo the work of irresponsible humans. This got me thinking regarding the passage of time, how some don’t have a chance when younger through circumstances, how I had chances and missed chances without regret. What does all this have to do with ‘Classic Film” is moments of timelessness in every film.
Many of these pictures called “Classic” were in fact no classics when they we first released such as THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), CITIZEN KANE (1941) and ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) plus many others. These titles have grown in stature now as we know to become for some the definition of “Classic Film”.
The definition of one frame of film subjectively is a moment held in time forever unless on nitrate stock. When these frames are projected in sequence you get a flow of events on screen. For some people and for myself I can say that these ‘ classic films’ as they are called are very much like a visit from a old friend who hasn’t perhaps changes yet your impression of them has through the years. You watch a picture now as you are today an perhaps feel or see something different then you first did. You see familiar places, faces and situation that you somehow know will work itself out in the end. Resolution in 90 minutes depending on the era of picture making.
Months back I found actress LOUISE BROOKS in a book I was reading on screen writer ANITA LOOS. I found Brooks fascinating as a ‘ rebel of Hollywood” who left Hollywood to work in Europe long before it was cool to do. I saw stills in the book of this wonderful person in bobbed hair and brilliant eyes. I was fortunate to find a copy of PANDORA’S BOX (1929) from local library brought it home a dropped it in to check the quality. Nothing at all prepared me for Brooks’s first screen appearance. Its was like the woman has stepped back in time and I had seen here many times on the street. The eyes, the hair the smile from images record in 1929 did reach across time.
Movies reach across in the dark no matter what genre to tell stories. Pictures do at times cast us back on our personal journey to when we were younger, friends and family were alive and life was simpler. Your parents, your spouse or significant perhaps took you to this title your are viewing today all those years ago. Life events framed by what was on a screen.
The tragedy is that film can sometimes be a persons only companion. Those people though no fault or perhaps entirely their fault have no one except what is being projected in flickering frames. I have always thought and some believe it is silly of me that when I see a person going to a film by themselves or sitting by themselves in a theatre I feel a tinge of sadness for them. I wonder if for this little activity of society why they are alone.
So why do myself and others watch “Classic Movies”? No special answer in that it is social, its perhaps a memory trip to once was in your life. Events of sadness or great joy that have happened to you. Still others learn by watching and listening at what has been done in the past so they can create new moments. They are visits from Old friends, welcome guests and for a moment time will stop as you cheer, cry,laugh, scream, duck or talk through what is unfolding for you. We find collective personal comfort in the experience through the years. The downside is that the Past can get romanticized to a point of unreality or worse a blurring of what is real and what is not. We don’t have music under scenes of our everyday lives as we go about our time here.
It is said that at the moment of our impeding passing a “movie” of our past lives will run in our heads. Sort of strange collection of final credits. I wonder if that happened in some form to my little neglected kitten that I saw that morning on facebook that passed away from neglect. I wrote a simple message that morning to the person from the Rescue facility ( I was the only male who wrote a comment at that time) …Be safe little one.