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Award-Winning Movies Of Our Past: How Would They Do Today?

Jenny Kim |
October 15, 2014 | 11:08 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Picture via Twitter @HWoodRetrospect)
(Picture via Twitter @HWoodRetrospect)
Today’s film market is dominated by major blockbusters, whether it be action-filled flicks like Marvel’s space-galactic film, “Guardians of the Galaxy” or mystery dramas like David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.” Box office successes are usually predictable — just slap a big named director, a hot shot actor, spend tens of millions of dollars in production, and you’ve got a winner. Typically, a box office success is synonymous to an award-winning film. However, this wasn’t always the case. Classic films recognized today as some of the best movies in American history like “Citizen Kane” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” are evidently very different than successful films in today’s modern society. If these films were to debut in today’s industry, how would they fare?

READ MORE: 5 Black And White Films You Should Know About

What determines a movie as successful or unsuccessful is most definitely based on the public’s opinion. From teenage fans, to middle-aged viewers, to prestigious critics, regardless of who it may be, each person’s opinion matters. Why? Because these opinions are what is going to elevate a film from a box office failure to a box office success. The power and influence of word-of-mouth and the public’s favor is what motivates the industry to continue creating what is loved by the audience — and that most happens to be stimulating action and drama, perhaps encouraged by the immense technological advances in cinematography as well as computer graphic imaging. However, how would a black and white film like “Citizen Kane” do in a day and age where people are awed by color and graphics? Or, how would a light-hearted romantic comedy, without the cheating and the lies, like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” do? The honest answer is that they would probably not do well at all. 

Sure, these films are iconic. “Citizen Kane” is perceived as one of the most influential films in history with one-man wonder Orson Welles doing the writing, directing, and acting. Everything aspect of the film, from the lighting to the script, was considered new and innovative for its time. Despite the lack of special effects to enhance the aging of Mr. Kane within the film, it still debuted as a success. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that if this 1941 film were to debut today in 2014, America’s viewers would be bored. They would be unamused with the unrealistic and flawed makeup, the lack of color, and the absence of humor. By today’s standards, the film would be described as bland and predictable. 

READ MORE: Theater Review: 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' On Broadway

(Picture via Twitter @ClassicPixs)
(Picture via Twitter @ClassicPixs)

When we think “Audrey Hepburn,” most would immediately picture Hepburn in her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” outfit, put together in her little black dress laced with beads of pearls, with a neatly combed bun topped with a tiara, delicately holding her cigarette. Exactly twenty-years after the release of “Citizen Kane,” Hepburn’s film came to be a success. However, today, it would be dismissed as a mere chick-flick: a film to be enjoyed by women during a girl's night in as they eat popcorn, sip wine, and gossip about the men missing from their lives. 

History gives us perspective of the past, but also the future. In a society driven by arbitrary success and the primary motive to create revenue, films like “Citizen Kane” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which showcase ingenuity in script, cinematography, and acting during a time where film-making was organic would fail in the public opinion, as movie-goers seek visual stimulation, thrilling plots, and controversial topics. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jenny Kim here.



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