in about 100 words or less
I recently read an interesting post at The Best Picture Project which asked: “What is the oldest movie you absolutely love?” — which raises a few interesting questions. When do movies become “old”, and am I really entertained by old movies, or is my “love” for them a type of appreciation?
Older movies, particularly from the silent era may be highly regarded for their technical achievement in the context of their place in the history of film, and may well have been fabulously entertaining in their day. But as time passes, so many of these early gems fail to be entertaining to modern audiences.
While I have long had a fascination with the past, which probably accounts for me being an archaeologist, I have more recently developed an appreciation for silent movies. Though, to be honest, I find that there are very few silent films (especially pre-1920), which are truly entertaining, and that much of the pleasure I get from watching these old films is found in the knowledge of their historical context. This is not surprising, as taken out of context, most archaeological objects have little interpretive value, and as such, are of little interest to archaeologists.
Looking over the almost 500 movies which I have watched/reviewed (that I consider “old” – that is, made before 1960, the year I was born), there are quite a few that I would consider to be truly entertaining, even by today’s sensibilities. Of course, while my biased perception, probably has much to do with my age, there remains a point which I find “old” movies to be more of a historical curiosity than something that truly entertains me.
So, in response to the question, “the earliest films that actually entertain me are the comedies of Buster Keaton” and “the earliest drama which I absolutely love is Fritz Lang’s M (1931) – Peter Lorre is (still) amazing” (Klaus Ming August 2015).