The film industry — like any other industry — aims to make money. Back in the early years of film, filmmakers could put anything on the screen and people would flock to theaters to see objects moving on a projection screen.
Later on, the industry had to tell a story. These early silent films were often suspenseful and dramatic.
With the rise of the age of the talking picture, filmmakers turned more towards drama and strayed away from action and suspense (for the most part).
It is this time that is known as the “Golden Era” of Hollywood.
Actors such as Clark Gable, Janet Leigh, Jean Harlow and James Stewart all were a product of this era. However, this blissful success did not last forever in the studios. They had to churn out stories that the audiences would flock to. Early film was full of mixed genre.
Films had elements of love stories, action and adventure. It was an era of feel good film.
Starting in 1960, transportation and communication began to become faster and more efficient. Movies became faster paced as well. It became a much quicker and easier process to make a film.
Film studios were now able to film on location rather than exclusively within the grounds of a studio lot or within indoor sound stages. Film settings now looked realistic compared to prior movies that essentially had the appearance of filmed stage plays.
Because of these more realistic sets, I believe audiences could realistically connect with the characters and their situations better.
Film plots became more realistic, as well. This era of film lasted from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. The end of this era is marked by no other than Computer Generated Images, which I regard as one of the best and worst things to happen to film.
In my opinion, another detriment to the film industry’s integrity was its increasing popularity. With demand for films increasing, directors began to take on more jobs. They spent less time on projects in order to move on to the next project. This resulted in lower quality film and acting.
Directors that have been regarded as the best, all have one thing in common: they have not made many films. For example, Quintin Tarentino (eight big films), Kubrick (13 features over 46 years), Christopher Nolan (10 hit films).
On the other hand, there are directors who I believe are sell outs. For example, Michael Bay uses CGI and huge budget heavy explosions to cover up his bad directing. This makes it easier for him to move on to the next project without having to get the actors to actually act.
You can also look at the problem of a fast paced world through a more specific lens. Have you ever heard someone call a film slow and boring? While sometimes this is an accurate assessment, is it always a bad thing for a film to be slow? I believe that the plot and genre of the film should dictate whether a slow plot development is a distraction or an essential element of the film.
Ultimately, we each have ideas of what constitutes a good film. In my opinion, the minimum requirement of a truly great film is that it is a somewhat realistic tale that actively engages the audience to think.
These are the films that stay with me and intrigue me long after I have left the theater. Of course, throw in a little allegory and symbolism and I am a happy camper.