Friday, July 09, 2004

Film canon

The reason for the endurance of theatrical movies along side the home video industry is that film-going is a social experience. It's the 20th century secular version of church. We share our culture corporately at the theatre. It gives us a common language and reference. We feel we must see the same movies everyone else has seen in order to share the culture. Film is the premiere art form of the 20th century.

I like the idea of a canon of must-see films that doesn't change (especially for the 20th century), if only to teach each generation to appreciate the progress, if any, that film has undergone, and to give them a common film language. To exclude from the canon those films which our predecessors found significant is ignorant and short-sighted. We must understand the historical context in which films were created. We need to know what the standards are in order to grasp when they've been exceeded. There's nothing new under the sun, except what's been forgotten.

I would encourage you to check out the classic films of the past, the AFI top 100, or the Academy Award winners or nominees. It will give you a feel for what our previous generations were thinking and experiencing. The 20th century was the most documented period in all history. Through film, we can experience history with amazing immediacy.


  1. i knew we'd be kindred spirits on this point. i believe that 'all scripture is given by inspiration of god'(2 timothy 3:16) and that includes screenplays! nice post

  2. Well... while I don't think that there's a "secular version of church", I do believe that many popular activities today have replaced church period, movies being one of them... except that I don't think people used to go to church to socialize, which they do now, so in a way church has replaced church... gee, that's not at all where I was going with this.
    Anyway, I agree with you. Citizen Kane and Casablanca are actually among my favorite movies.

  3. I agree with what you have to say about the importance of film cannons, but I'd never recommend the AFI 100 to anyone. Academy Award nominees at least are valuable in terms of getting a feel for which films were considered important at the time, but the AFI list is a crock, an atrocity, a scam. For a much better list of established classics, I'd send folks over to, where they have an excellent list of top 100 films (