Mark Twain once said that “A classic is something everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read.” Although he was speaking about books, the above statement can be applied to movies as well. Film as an art form has existed for longer than a century now and over those years quite a lot of films have gained the status of a classic. We all know of them, but how many of them have we actually watched? We pretty much know what they are about without having watched them… or do we?
“We’ll always have Paris.” is perhaps one of the most famous movie lines of all time. It is delivered by Rick (Humphrey Bogart) as he says his final goodbye to his ex-lover, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). However, Casablanca is hardly just a love story. It was released in 1942, in the midst of the Second World War. Its release coincides with the Allied invasion of North Africa and the capture of Casablanca. The characters in the movie all have to deal with this reality in some shape or form. Ilsa and Laszlo (Paul Henreid) are trying to secure safe passage to the US, while Rick, a nightclub owner, is balancing on the good graces of the Nazi soldiers in charge. The movie conveys messages about bravery and patriotism throughout it, with memorable scenes such as the playing of “La Marseillaise” in response to a group of Nazi soldiers singing “Die Wacht am Rhein”. In the end, Rick, who is shown to have questionable morals throughout the film, chooses a course of action that will help Laszlo and the resistance as a whole.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)
It can safely be said that Breakfast At Tiffany’s made Audrey Hepburn, or rather, Holly Golightly, as something of a fashion icon. Audrey, in her black dress and pearl jewellery is the epitome of elegance. This image deceives us as Holly Golightly is not the high-class lady she appears to be. Her profession is not explicitly stated in the movie, but rather hinted at being that of a call girl. Holly meets Paul Varjak (George Peppard), who is introduced as a writer but whose actual “profession” becomes clearer over the duration of the film. In the end, Holly and Paul end up together, choosing real love over financial interest.
Psycho is perhaps the most notable film from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The story follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a young woman who, after stealing a sum of money, ends up on the road. In need of shelter, Marion spends a night in the motel of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a quiet young man who lives with his mother. What follows is the famous shower scene. It is considered one of the most notable scenes in film history and has been reproduced numerous times since its initial appearance. Another memorable part of the movie is the violin screech, which has likewise made its appearance in various horror movies to this day.
The Godfather (1972)
When someone thinks of the mafia their mind immediately goes to this movie. The Godfather follows the Corleone family over the span of a decade. Famously known as a crime drama, The Godfather is a family drama at its core. The movie contrasts between Vito’s (Marlon Brando) life in Italy, where he felt free and innocent and his life in the US, where circumstance has forced him to become a criminal. His son, Michael (Al Pacino), fights a similar battle. In the beginning of the film he wants to have nothing to do with his family’s criminal doings but like a tragic hero he ends up becoming what he detested most.
Star Wars (Original Trilogy, 1977 – 1983)
The story follows the Hero’s Journey archetype. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), aided by a wise elderly man, Obi Wan-Kenobi, sets on a quest to free the captured Princess Leia from the clutches of the Galactic Empire with the help of Han Solo (Harrison Ford). What begins as a rescue mission ends up with Luke joining the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. One doesn’t need to have watched the movies to know who Darth Vader or Princess Leia is. When I first watched them two years ago, I already felt familiar with the story. In spite of that, the Star Wars movies were a magical experience and they continue to be no matter how many times one watches them.