Movies, like everything else in life, have a “guaranteed fresh by” date. I’m not just referring to technological limitations preventing movies from staying relevant (although that is a factor in the overall obsoleting of certain film). I’m talking about the subtle nuances that people take for granted when watching a movie from their own era. For example, in movies from the classical Hollywood era, almost every leading man has the same voice. They also use the same inflections when emoting. Everything from this era is over-dramatized and over-acted. People are more prone to laugh at the movie during scenes of great conflict and heavy emotions rather than the stale and old-timey jokes that just don’t hit a modern audience’s sense of humor.
A prime example of this in practice is Citizen Kane. Often hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time, Citizen Kane is a juggernaut of critical acclaim. While it is not a bad movie, I find it hard to believe that this same movie released today would have become such a classic. This film may have pioneered storytelling devices and different aspects of cinematography, but as a modern movie viewer I was used to seeing these things when I finally viewed this film. It may have been the greatest movie of all time when it was released, but it cannot possibly retain that title nowadays and that’s a good thing. The fact that movies become obsolete proves that the overall quality of cinema is on the rise. If the same movie was constantly number one, it would mean that we had hit stagnation. Just as organisms adapt and evolve to thrive, so does cinema evolve to produce better content.