The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

14 May

Pictured: Awesome

Seeing a great film from the past is a double-edged sword: On the one hand, a great film revitalizes the love of cinema, reinvigorates the creative process in the viewer, takes them places they’ve never been, excites the imagination. It can be an unintentional window into the past: a scene where Bogart gets a shave and meticulously looks over his reflection–smoothing his eyebrows, even admiring himself–reveals a self-consciousness that one would NEVER associate with pre-modernist cinema. We tend to think of men from the first half of the 20th as butch through and through: scoffing at self-care. We forget that going out without a hat would be considered remarkable in large cities, and without a shave or with one’s tie loose as just plain gauche.This isn’t some WASP-y ‘everything was better back then’ whitewashing either–most people, no matter their race or socioeconomic standing held themselves to a higher standard than today.

The other side of older films is that everyone’s dead.

When watching recent films, I can’t help but play armchair casting director: ‘Oo, Woody Harrelson would be great as Jody in Preacher.’ ‘Oo, X actor would be great as the Raven King in Jonathan Strange.’ ‘Oo, she’d be great as Y.’It’s something I can’t stop myself from doing, even though I’ve yet to receive a single call from Hollywood begging me for my opinion. Imagine that.

With an older film, the possibilities are over. There’s nothing more for the actors to do, because they’re done. They’ve usually done some great things, created performances or films that stand the test of time and are still taught or discussed today: indeed, this film has been an inspiration to countless directors of today, everyone from Spielberg to Joss Whedon.(Notable exceptions to this would be the Tales from the Crypt episode in which Bogie was CG’d in–which sounds like a trainwreck unless you’ve seen the episode, which was actually well-done and quite tasteful!)

Which leads me to my next point: in a truly great film like this, there’s little else going on in my head BUT the film. Sierra Madre is a brilliant, classic piece of American cinema, and it was made in an era when films were few and far between–in short, when films were meant to be watched, rather than act as a tax write-off or get a studio out of the red. I am not saying no films then were crapped out by studios or made only to make money, but the reason Sierra Madre has continued to stand the test of time is because it’s just a GREAT GODDAMN MOVIE. Films made nowadays are made with the assumption that the viewer is only half-watching–their mind is partly occupied with the film, and partly occupied with everything else going on in their lives. Sex, feelings of social, physical, economic or sexual inadequacy, subtexts, institutional prejudices, product placement: all are things modern audiences AND filmmakers distract themselves with when making a film.

Postmodernism and the search for subtext can kill a film–not that films don’t need subtextual analysis, after all, the search for truth in art is a basic human need, and will never go away. But when the guts of something are all a person considers, it can be easy to forget the original something’s form, forget its beauty and grace, forget why we fell in love with it in the first place.

Advertisements

... but what do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

indiescifi451.wordpress.com/

îndependent science fiction movies, reviewed and dissected ruthlessly.

One Working Mommy

I am one person, one wife, one Mommy working through it all.

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins

AfroSapiophile

Intelligent Black Thought.

Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a hard working writer.

Janet Carr @

This Bug's Life

I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog

Behind the scenes of John E. Brito's animated and live action (short) films & comics

Josep Goded

Seeking Truth

Stuff White People Like

This blog is devoted to stuff that white people like

Dark Matters

For Well-Rounded Blerds and POC Nerds

Examining the Odd

literature, visual art, music and film

My Year Cooking with Chris Kimball

Recipes from Cook's Illustated, Cook's Country and America's Test Kitchen

The Entertainment Patrol (and general musings)

My musings about everything from entertainment to life!

Writer's Haven

Words from heart

Lovecraft eZine

Weird Fiction, Cosmic horror, and the Cthulhu Mythos

breaktimestories

Musings, Short stories, Inspiration.

BROTHA WOLF

Howling For Justice!

MyCreativeRamblings.org

“I used to want to be an astronaut, but astronauts don't even go to the moon anymore.”

BecomeBetty.com

Food, drinks, style, and humor

BaileyBee

The Hive

Carmilita's Handmade Jewelry

handmade bead jewelry

Mark My World

Hacking life while enjoying everything in between

Really Awful Movies

Horror Movies, Science Fiction, Exploitation, Action, Genre Films.

yaskhan

Poetry, free verse, haiku, senryu, photography, books, art, philosophy , nature.

TheWarner

Your Source for Honest Commentary and Reviews

Rob Powell Writes

Let's see where this goes, starting with some short stories and flash fiction.

Opinionated Woman

Opinionated women of the world, unite!

BayArt

New Perspective on Life

What's Your Chic?

Your Chic. Your Style.

SparkleWithUc

Leave a little sparkle wherever you go!

word and silence

poetry & prose by Tim Miller

Blog of the Dragon

Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire news, theories, and other nerdy goodness

LOWLIFE MAGAZINE

"Find what you love and let it kill you." – Charles Bukowski

tekehdddddddddddddddddddddddddddd.wordpress.com/

About life, the universe and everything

Londongrad

Erotica City of London Russia Confessions

The Gymternet

The ultimate gymnastics news. For the ultimate gym nerd.

witchlike

Exploring wise-craft and weirdness

CHILANGOGEEK

Hobbies, Comics, Customs & Peliculas

Forged From Reverie

A compendium of Fantasy, Fiction & Thoughts. Will you revel in Reverie?

%d bloggers like this: