Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Uncategorized Were films better in the 20th Century?

Were films better in the 20th Century?

Nostalgia is a fickle beast, the final decades of the 20th century (some people would argue) produced some of the greatest films that have ever been created. Although, there is an issue with this hypothesis:

Namely, can you remember three really iconic films from the 1950’s onwards? Like The Indiana Jones series (excluding the most recent edition), Star Wars (the originals) and of course Back To The Future. Okay? Good.

Now can you remember three really bad films? No. And that’s the main problem with this theory, the reason that people think that the 20th century was the best film century is because they remembered only the best out of the many thousands of films that were produced in the hundred years, and the rest were forgotten. I’m not sure which century or decade has the best films, but I’d say that it will hopefully be coming up soon.

There is no doubt that with the new technology that has come out in recent years, that films have never looked their best, using 3d technology and blu-ray disk players, there is now a whole new level of detail that producers can exploit, so they make the most of the equipment that they have available and focus mostly on that. This is where most modern film producers make their first and probably biggest mistake.

You can tell that this has happened to a film by performing this simple test:

If a film trailer makes a huge deal out of the way that it looks or the way that it was made, then you know that the story, plot characters etc, will be terrible. Many modern filmmakers have made the irritatingly common mistake of spending their entire budget on multi-million pound software to create huge realistic effects and neglecting to give anything to the writers, and this can lead to some tired and predictable storylines, which quite frankly I am sick of.

This is probably the main reason that people think that the best films came from the 20th century. It is because of the limitations of the technology at the time. The filmmakers of yesteryear had little to no budget compared to what producers have these days, so they had to focus on the story and narrative in order to make it interesting, once the story was finished, then they used the remaining money to create the special effects. I will have to say that most of the good films made in the 20th century do have the cutting edge when it comes to the story department. Most films made from the 1950’s onwards either didn’t use special effects or didn’t even use them at all. There are obviously exceptions to this. Such as Star Wars (again) and Back To The Future (again).

However do not fret modern film lovers; there is still some hope for our beloved moving pictures. There are modern films which take its attitude towards story straight from the 20th century. If you are ever looking for two good, old films which rely heavily on story and setting, made in the 21st Century, then I can recommend these:

1.      Sleuth

Starring: Michael Cane and Jude Law

Synopsis: Two men in a room, one is trying to kill the other, it is a really confusing and amazingly acted piece of film. I love it, and you will too.

2.      There will be blood

Starring: Daniel Day Lewis

Synopsis: This film follows the life of one Daniel Plainview. It is set in the final days of the old west, when mining for oil was a lifetime of work. It is filmed in a beautiful location and acted fantastically. It is a 2 and a half hour epic. Comparable to Laurence of Arabia in style.


These are two of my favourite films, and the good news is they’ll be fairly cheap because they came out a while ago.


We can only hope that more modern producers learn the importance of a really strong narrative in a film, the special effects are nice but without a strong supporting story then it all comes across as two dimensional.


No pun intended.


Jamie Walshe.

5 thoughts on “Were films better in the 20th Century?”

  1. I agree with your review completely. Pretty much all of my favourite movies are from the 20th Century, most prominently from the 70s and 80s.

    Great review, keep it up. :D

  2. I do agree with your review but can we give it a little bit of time before we stat this. Its only been 10 years in the 21 century and in those ten years we have seen amazing films. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Harry Potter Saga, Inception, The Dark Knight, and the movies can keep going on and on. I am not disagreeing with you but you cant compare 100 years to 10 years. So far I think the 90s is my favourite decade though. Shawshank Redemption, Jurassic Park 1, Goodfellas, Titanic and one of my favourites Fight Club

  3. and not to mention for the 90’s Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, Casino, The Boondock Saints, Seven, Terminator: Judgment Day, The Matrix, Dark City, Trainspotting, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Office Space, American Beauty, Boogie Nights, The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, Devil’s Advocate, Liberty Heights, Silence of the Lambs, Good Will Hunting, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys, What Dreams May Come, The Beach, Mall Rats, Armageddon, Meet Joe Black, Braveheart, Unforgiven, Independence Day, Interview With the Vampire, Jerry Maguire, Fargo, Tombstone, Scream, Empire Records and The Big Lebowski

  4. Don’t mention it, though I do believe that the 2000’s are better overall. I mean: Inception, The Departed, Moon, Requiem For a Dream, Vanilla Sky, LOTR: Return of the King, City of God, Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Brick, Mystic River, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Orphanage, James Cameron’s Avatar, Signs, Children of Men, Gran Torino, Inglourious Basterds, Slumdog Millionaire, Passengers, Miracle at St. Anna, Gladiator, Lost in Translation, Crash, Gangs of New York, Identity, The Jacket, Babel, 21 Grams, In the Mood For Love, Adaptation, Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban, Up, Toy Story 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sunshine, No Country For Old Men, 28 Days Later, Little Miss Sunshine, Apocalypto, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Wrestler, Donnie Darko, The Others, Cold Mountain and American Psycho.

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