The Most Valuable Films in an Historical Context

        The first and most valuable movie watched this semester is without a doubt Citizen Kane. This 1941 film written, directed by, and staring Orson Welles, was state of the art for its day and showcased technology and cinematography most people had never been exposed to before. Not only was the plot and storyline of this movie great, but also I read it was loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst. Any time a film has ties to real life, audiences seem to have a stronger connection or ability to relate to it.

        We take for granted the countless conveniences and luxuries of today's technology. We can shoot cinematic quality video with a camcorder the size of our palm and have scenes digitally edited within minutes. Watching and studying this film while keeping in mind it was made in the early 1940's, gives one an entirely new appreciation for the obstacles Welles had to overcome with such primitive technology. For instance, a camera panning down a rooftop sign and seamlessly lowering through a window, down into the building, and onto a woman sitting at a table becomes quite extraordinary when one considers the bulky size and non mobility of movie cameras during this time period.

        Not everything Welles did with Citizen Kane was completely ground breaking; but, when one looks at what had been done up until this time, it is quite a gigantic leap forward. We are so accustomed to seeing techniques Welles helped to pioneer reused nowadays that we do not even consciously think about it. However, when one compares this movie with earlier films we studied in class, it becomes very apparent that Citizen Kane pretty much set new standards for the film industry.

        As you may have guessed from my other essays, the movie I would rate second most valuable to this class is Arthur Penn's 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde. One of the most recent, and only color films we watched in class, this classic movie also represents a historic mark in cinematic history. Many critics claim this as one of the top movies of all time, let alone the 60's. Remember my formula for audience connection, loosely based on a true story. Not only was Bonnie and Clyde innovative with its action packed shootouts and car chases, but also deep down a part of everyone in the audience wants to cheer for the "bad guys."

        I also feel this movie reflects an American era gone by. When life was simple and everything at least seemed innocent, one could actually get in your car and outrun "the law" for kicks. Another concept that made this work such a successful movie, and one to measure history by, was the combining of so many genres into one film. Bonnie and Clyde has action, drama, comedy, and of course, romance. This film has such mass appeal that many movies made today still fall short of appealing to such a broad range of viewers.

        The acting in Bonnie and Clyde was also some of the best seen this semester. The ending sequence when Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde (Warren Beatty) exchange glances when they know they are about to be shot completely sums up the entire film. Bonnie and Clyde knew the ultimate destination of their never-ending joyride would be death, and that they had reached the end.

         Regardless of rather I enjoyed all the movies watched in class this semester, each of them has taught me something different about how cinema has evolved, and if nothing else, helped me appreciate my favorite films even more! I have enjoyed this class and thank you for choosing great films for us to watch and write about.

Adam Cecil

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