To please the eyes before the mind

Joe Wolnik, contributing reporter

Technology has made drastic changes in many aspects of society, especially the film industry. With technology today, the modern film is filled with eye-pleasing special effects from insane stunts to intricate spacecrafts from another galaxy. These features have become a favorite, and in many cases necessary, aspect of films to the modern average viewer. The preference to such elaborate displays of visuals has led modern movie makers to switch the focus from the actual plot of the story to flashy visual effects. So where did the plot go? This is a good question, even though it’s not one that is asked by many because, quite simply, the average viewer doesn’t care.

Back in the day, when special effects were virtually non-existent and the film was in black and white (yes kids, movies weren’t always in color), movie makers had to rely on a compelling plot to entertain the audience. This is the time of the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Jack Lemon, Audrey Hepburn, and Henry Fonda (just to name a few). This gaggle of actors didn’t have the luxury of flashy backgrounds to win over the audience for them; they had to do it with shear acting. The film, 12 Angry Men, a film directed by Sidney Lumet about a jury deciding the ruling on a murder case, drew the audience in with the setting located in a single room (besides the five minute intro in the court room). Lumet didn’t need flashy explosions or green screens to do it either, all he used were compelling dialogue, thought-out character development, and a magnificent storyline. The classic movies contained more material that actually has to do with a story (plot, dialogue, and acting) than today’s movies (mainly containing special effects), which can be better described as a display.

With this argument being an important one, as it affects modern society, it can be considered an inarguable one. This being because the majority of my opposition would be those who have not viewed too many classic films. Most people who find special effects an important part of films would then neglects classic films for their absence of said special effects. This ignorance of classic films leads the majority of my opposition unfit to argue because simply, they don’t know any different. Yes, special effects do look cool, and they always entice the quote, “wow, look at that” out of me, it doesn’t change the movie as a whole. When you take a step back, and look at most modern films at an intellectual level, or even just go as far as making your own plot diagram, they don’t nearly compare to the depth of the classics. It would almost seem as though some directors have taken notice of this dilemma, and are making efforts to change it. When doing this, the directors still have to accompany the infatuation with special effects of the audience, so when trying to intensify the plot, they just end up with some crazy, unnecessary plot twist that becomes too outrageous to respect (M. Night Shyamalan).

Where I might be looked at as of a grumpy old man, just living in the past, I can assure you this is false. I find many new films to be very entertaining; it’s just classic films are more respectable. Accepting the fact that my argument may be just a lost cause, it seems that I’ll have to tune in to TCM more often in the future.