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Why Are Older Movies So Much Better?

Lawyers would say that this title is what you call: “A loaded question”. It is a logical trick where you try to get the respondent to basically validate your argument by twisting the question so it can only be answered in a certain way. The better title is whether the age or particular historical epic a movie comes from necessarily makes it better. Still, if it’s going to get a lot more clicks, I’m going to go with this title: Why are all the movies so much better?

First of all, from a purely objective basis, Hollywood has come to its own as this global corporate behemoth or juggernaut until the 1980s. That was the time of Michael Eisner, Disney and other corporate honcho. That was when Hollywood really blew up, and the dividing line between merchandise, cinema, music and software really just got blurred to the point of non-existence.

Since there’s so much interdependency now between different media, video games play a big role in this, it has a distinctive effect on quality. I’m not saying that, just because this interconnection exists in our present age, you can automatically conclude that all movies are going to suck. No, I’m not bold enough to make that assertion, but it does have an effect. There’s less experimentation because the profit motive is pretty much the only thing driving movie production.

When you watch older movies, there’s less commercial pressure. It always existed because movies are commercial products, but there’s less money-making urgency at that time. The people creating these masterpieces have a lot more leeway. Not surprisingly, this produces more artistic work. Furthermore, the acting sensibility back then put a premium on actual setting in acting instead of tricks.

Now, a lot of these are unavoidable because we live in an age of computer-generated imagery. There are a many narrative functions that have become so much easier thanks to CGI. If you need proof of this, try to imagine The Lord of the Rings live-action movie being filmed in the 1930s. Think of the cost and the scale. Similarly, think of The Avengers being produced in the 1930s or 1940s. Besides the nerd technicality in terms of actual technology, you’re going to be hard-pressed in terms of manpower and resources to even come close to the quality that you see in the screen now.

In addition, there’s also a lot of black and white ethics back then. In other words, when you watch a movie, you can see who the evil persons are and who the good people are. This made watching movies simpler, but a lot of critics would say this is more laziness. However, I would like to argue that it is nice and refreshing to see nicely drawn lines, instead of the first modern mishmash that we’re left with today.

Finally, in the 1950s, method acting was all the rage. It is really mind-blowing to see Marlon Brando work his magic on the silver screen.

So there you have it. I know these may not be all that persuasive, but they do hold a lot of water with enough people.