Random thoughts slip through my head while driving, and whilst listening to some more Morricone scores on the way home tonight, it occured to me that nobody cares, now, if The Good the Bad and the Ugly or Once Upon a Time in the West were big hits at the box-office, or what critics thought of the films when they were first released. None of that matters. The films stand as iconic classics, two of the greatest Westerns ever made, returned to by fans many times over the years, and discovered by new viewers every year. Whilst many other films from 1966 or 1968 might have become long since forgotten, these two stand as fresh and impressive as ever- perhaps with an improved stature over the passing of time. And the scores are bloody great.
So while, naturally, the views of critics and box office success or failure are hugely important when a film comes out, as time passes it all becomes just distant noise and a film proves its true worth as time passes by. No-one watching Blade Runner today likely gives two hoots about its failure at the box office back in 1982 or all those critics that disparaged it- just the same way as with films like The Thing. Films belong to their studios and their creators initially but over time, well, it’s hard to say they ever belong to the fans or the public, but you know what I mean. The true classics get a life all their own, and the characters within them live on, forever frozen in time. It’s not always a case of ‘its only a movie’, as John Brosnan’s old column had it- sometimes it’s much, much more.
6 thoughts on “In time, who cares?”
I often find this a heartening thought. However, I also often think the negative converse of it is that for films to be remembered and/or rediscovered, someone has to champion them — they don’t just pop back up of their own accord. Of course, this is one of the biggest advantages of our current era: with everything new made available on disc / to stream / etc, it gives more people more chances to discover it.
That’s true! It is only a minority of films that stand the test of time.
And yet Battlefield Earth still gets no respect. I don’t think the 2.4 rating on imdb.com is deserved!
I think that’s pretty much true, though to this day every single mention of Blade Runner begins with ‘it was a box office and critical flop back in 1982, but it’s enduring influence… etc’.
But that’s part of the myth of BR, and less so for other films. The box office just kind of melts away. Does anyone remember whether Taxi Driver or Raging Bull were hits? No, just that they’re great films.
Absolutely, and you pick another good two examples there. Quality wins out, usually (I won’t say ‘all the time’ because I am certain there are lost films out there which were genuinely great but have never found an audience other than an isolated few).Indeed there are films that take a long time to become realised as ‘classics’ : I have never seen William Friedkin’s film Sorcerer from 1977, recently re-released to much acclaim, but thanks to the upsurge in attention I’m now very keen to watch it- can’t say I’d really even heard of it before.So maybe my observation should be, ‘quality usually wins out eventually’.
PSA: Temper your expectations for Sorcerer: I only watched it recently, and it’s not great. It’s interesting, but no masterpiece.
Well, thanks for the reality check-in I nearly succumbed. I’m sure I will get around to it, but I shall put it to the back of the list for now.