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A look into epic movies of the past

Movies have been around since the turn of the 20th century, evolving from silent black and white pieces of art to the colored, 3-D visual experiments of today.

Opinions differ on what is the best movie of all time.

The American Film Institute gave the following list of the top 10 films:
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
3. Casablanca
4. Raging Bull
5. Singin’ in the Rain
6. Gone with the Wind
7. Lawrence of Arabia
8. Schindler’s List
9. Vertigo
10. The Wizard of Oz

These top the AFI’s list of the Best 100 Films, having survived and made an everlasting impression on audiences everywhere. However, there are many more films that have made their mark in American popular culture, and are classics in their own right. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Ghostbusters,” “Star Wars”… the list can go on and on.

But what makes these movies stand out? Perhaps it could be the originality, the script filled with potential catch phrases, the stunning scenery, the astounding music, the actors’ overwhelming talent, who really knows?

The term “classic” is subjective. Certain movies are ahead of their time and still are heavily referenced today. Phrases such as “There’s no place like home,” “Luke, I am your father,” and “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” tend to pop up a lot in pop culture. The name of the band Save Ferris, whose cover of “I Want You to Want Me” appeared in “10 Things I Hate About You,” is a reference to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” If you go into Target, you will find a picture of the beautiful actress Audrey Hepburn holding a cigarette, hair swept up, wearing a black dress and gloves in Tiffany’s; this popular picture from Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” also the name of a song by the Barenaked Ladies. This list can go on and on, encompassing many more allusions in movies, music, and television.

VSU political science professor Patricia Hinton, defined a “classic” movie as one with “universal themes that resonate with viewers year after year.” “Casablanca,” released in 1942, is her idea of a “classic movie.”

“‘Casablanca’ always tops the list of classic movies because it is timeless,” Hinton said. “Generations of movie-lovers have followed the story of Rick, Ilsa and Viktor and left theaters humming ‘You must remember this’ or quipping ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’ in their best Bogart growl. ‘Casablanca’ is a story of love, war and sacrifice. It is a political
allegory about World War II and a timeless romance.”

Senior chemistry major Stephanie Rowe deems “Scarface” a classic. “A good movie to me is action,” Rowe said. “I like gangsta movies. The rise and fall of villains are interesting to me.”

It took sophomore English major Miguel Cortes a mere minute to think of an “epic movie,” since he is an avid movie watcher.

“I would have to say ‘The Dark Knight’ for something more recent,“ said Cortes. “‘Star Wars’ is always good. […] ‘Casino’ and anything Martin Scorsese. [I like] Martin Scorsese for his commentary and insight into crime. ‘The Dark Knight’ talks about crimes and the darkness of humanity, and ‘Star Wars’ is a modern version of King Arthur.”

There are comedies such as “The Hangover” (“Classic!”) that can cause audiences to laugh no matter how many times they watch it. There are movies such as “Marley and Me” and “Moulin Rouge!” whose heartrending scenes heighten the emotional impact of the movie. The epic romances of “The Notebook” and “Shakespeare in Love,” the horror of “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Shining,” the action of the James Bond saga, the glitz and glamour of musicals, the movies that take you out of this world, that make you cringe, cry, laugh, or just be disturbed—all have all been named classics. In the end, it’s all a matter of opinion, but perhaps all films are classic for their pull on our imaginations and our hearts.

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