Friday, 20 January 2012

Voice of Reason #1: Cinema Classics

Citizen Kane (1941)

I didn't like Apocalypse Now. There I said it. "Whoa there" said my father, "how can you not like Apocalypse Now! It's a classic!"

And so begins to the discussion of films, or anything for that matter, that have attained the "classic" status or badge. Is it ever okay to have never watched certain films that it seems anyone and everyone else has?

Is it possible to go about my daily life the same as the rest of us having never watched Orson Welles utter "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane or witnessed the chariot race in Ben Hur? And then having watched said "classic", is it ever okay to dislike it?

Of course it is I argue. One can still appreciate a films prestigiousness and vintage status without having to have watched it from start to finish in the same way you don't have to have read every single one of Bill Shakespeare's work to know how acclaimed and treasured it is. I can still recognise and acknowledge the importance of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or David Bowie without owning any of their records. 

In addition to this, I'm not one to talk. I'll hold my hand up and say I'm no stranger to the sentence, "but you have to love this film, it's a classic!" But I reserve it for films more on my level, ones I can relate to and enjoy such as Lord of The Rings or Star Wars. To not have seen either is practically criminal.

The fact that cinema is a very personal medium doesn't help this. Different films mean different things to different people and this naturally will create a debate over quality and "specialness". My problem is not with people's personal favourites films. Don't get me wrong, I myself have a special place in my heart for those films that I adore and treasure. Everyone does. Like any good book, song or poem, everyone has films that can evoke feelings and memories within us. To me, that's what makes them special. My problem is with people telling me that I must like a film. That I must enjoy and praise The Castle, based purely on the fact that everyone else does.

Essentially, my argument is this; there are simply too many classics out there. No-one can possibly have seen them all, from The Godfather to Monty Python. And even if they did, not everyone is going to have enjoyed them. All I simply ask is this; don't preach to me about not liking Apocalypse Now!

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