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Evolution of a classic

'Blade Runner' (1982)
'Blade Runner' (1982)
Warner Bros./The Ladd Company

You all have heard the term. That’s a classic movie, but what exactly does that mean? Well it’s rather obvious, the best movies, with the most intriguing characters are the true classics. Whether it is Michael Corleone’s journey into darkness or Luke Skywalker following the hero’s journey to a tee. Good characters that make us feel for them on every emotional level and good stories that drag us in and never let go, are the reasons we go to the movies. And over time movies such as Star Wars and The Godfather have become true cinema classics.

But there is something much more intriguing, the evolution of what is considered a classic movie. There have been movies that have been thrown away when they come out, only to be rediscovered years later, and rediscovered to be named absolute classics. There are many underlying reasons for this.

Possibly the most skipped over film upon its release is Blade Runner. Blade Runner made only $6.15 million its first weekend all the way back in 1982. Some critics were disappointed that the film was not an action adventure movie that was advertised by the studio. Others thought the film was too slow, and the story took a back seat to the special effects. Stroll ahead some ten to twenty years later and the film is an absolute classic. Why? It’s simply one of those movies you need to see twice, and eventually people did. The complexity of the film and the many, many themes of the film really help it stand the test of time, the ambiguity of whether Deckard is a replicant or not really draws people back to the film for repeated viewings. There are even college classes dedicated to understanding this film that’s how good and deep it is.

The one thing that Blade Runner and the next film I will talk about, Vertigo, have in common are they are both very dark films with really rather unsympathetic protagonists. Scottie becomes obsessed; Deckard is a prototype Film Noir detective with questionable moral outlook. Another film The Searchers which has recently been re-discovered has John Wayne playing a racist. These films are all dark and make us question humanity, which today with the economy down and the questionable wars being fought in the Middle East. Many people will continue to rediscover these deeper darker films during the upcoming decade. Also with the rather bleak moral outlook on the future in general, films being made will also be influenced in all of this.

Another big film is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Vertigo upon its release in 1958 was seen as a commercial and critical failure. Critics said it was too slow, and the box office never was really there, lately though this film has been rediscovered as Hitchcock’s on true masterpiece. Critics see it as Hitchcock’s most personal film dealing with themes that affected him throughout his life, including obsession with falling in love with a particularly kind of women instead of just one woman. So why did they see this now and not 40 years ago? The answer nobody is sure why, but one thing for sure is film classics are always constantly evolving.