Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome to Nostalgiaville

This weekend I got into a discussion on the 'myth' of classic Hollywood. Both parties in agreement, we talked about this false perception that films which pre-date a certain 'modern' timeframe were all bubblegum and happy endings. The crux of the argument being that these days movies are too real and dark. You know, because all the big blockbusters last year were these really depressing films. Darn you Alice in Wonderland!

Or as I like to call this argument: "Nostalgic Stupidity." There are very few people among us who are not nostalgic on some level, and with the mass opportunity for people to watch films now from all different eras we've given birth to nostalgia for times that haven't even taken place in our lifetime. The problem: These are generally based on wrong assumptions. If you go back to films like Petrified Forest, The Sand Pebbles, Bridge on the River Kwai, Citizen Kane, and pretty much the entire collection of Film Noir, you'll quickly note that there exists no time in the history of cinema where good guys "always" prevailed; now left to dramatically ride off into the sunset and kiss the girl.

Sure, it's a lot nicer to think that way, but it's not a reality - something you seem to be trying desperately hard to escape. My argument though, has nothing to do with that. What I would instead like to say is this - please calm down on the high nostalgia factor. You're perfectly entitled to prefer classics, even classics that only have happy endings, but to assume that your preference for those generalizes to all cinema of the time is not only asinine, it's insulting to those who brought those very films to life.

From the dawn of cinema until now, movies have always found balance between realism and surrealism, and happiness and sadness. To say there existed this idealistic time in which all films were always cheerful is make the claim that any film not conforming to your view might as well not have existed at all. And if that is what you truly want, then I feel sorry for all those who come into discourse with you.

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