Callbacks to Classic Cinema

By Harper Johnson ‘19

Can anyone imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have movies? How did people in the eighteenth century survive? Did they walk down the road with their betrothed discussing the weather? Honestly, that sounds pretty boring, so it’s safe to say that most people are glad that we have movies to distract us from all the boring parts of life.  Movies can provide us with a more interesting world, one that allows you to not care about anything else for a couple hours. In the words of senior Alexander Britti, “You sympathize and feel for characters that you only meet for about two hours.”

With that in mind, there is a multitude of movies that have been made in the last sixty years that many students at Regis Jesuit have not seen, because they were not born yet. (Note: Some of the movies on this list have been given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America)

Schindler’s List:

  • Release: 1993
  • Run Time: 195 min
  • Budget: $22,000,000
  • Metacritic: 93

 A somber, and mildly heartwarming, staple of modern cinema, Schindler’s List is the story of a nazi-era business man named Oskar Schindler who finds himself mixed up with prominent nazi leadership, including those who run Polish death camps.  Schindler is very quickly the hero of the movie as he works to save over a thousand jews from certain death; as Best Movies by Farr says in their review, “By secretly employing Jewish workers in Poland and gradually moving them to safety outside Nazi-occupied territory, Schindler executed the most daring of subterfuges, daily risking his livelihood — and life.”

Liam Neeson delivers a dark, depressing, and beautiful performance in what is a definitive holocaust movie.  And while Spielberg was not exactly original with many of the aspects of the movie, Schindler’s List is a must-watch for anybody, as violent and disturbing as it is.  

Schindler’s List is the gritty, brutal, and perspective altering side of the Second World War and the nazis that Saving Private Ryan and Indiana Jones do not show.  There are only two movies that have ever made me want to cry, and Schindler’s List makes everyone cry.

The Big Lebowski:

  • Release: 1998
  • Run Time: 117 min
  • Budget: $15,000,000
  • Metacritic: 71

What’s not to love about The Big Lebowski? Between some of the most quotable lines ever, amazing soundtrack, and strange storyline revolving (mostly) around a rug.  The Big Lebowski follows the story of avid bowler and White Russian lover, Jeff Lebowski, known as The Dude, who meets another Lebowski (the big Lebowski), and mayhem ensues as the Dude is offered money to find the Big Lebowski’s wife.  The Dude soon finds himself being harassed by European nihilist thugs, who don’t believe in anything, and throwing a bag of Walter’s underwear out of a car window.

The Big Lebowski is a classic comedy that, while seeming random at times, makes for an amazingly re-watchable hit.

It may only have a Metacritic score of 71 (which is not bad for a cult classic like this), and sure, it may not be the best movie; but in terms of pure enjoyment, The Big Lebowski gets a 10/10.

Lawrence of Arabia:

  • Release: 1962
  • Run Time: 216 min
  • Budget: $15,000,000
  • Metacritic: 100

Lawrence of Arabia is a semi-biographical movie about the British archaeologist, historian, and military commander T.E. Lawrence’s time fighting with the Arab-Bedouin tribes against the Ottoman Turks.  

The New York Times wrote a review the day after it came out and summed up the movie perfectly, “It is such a laboriously large conveyance of eye-filling outdoor spectacle—such as brilliant display of endless desert and camels and Arabs and sheiks and skirmishes with Turks and explosions and arguments with British military men—that the possibly human, moving T. E. Lawrence is lost in it”.  

While this kind of wide-open, breathtaking cinematography are almost commonplace today with movies like Lord of The Rings, it was groundbreaking at the time and remains impressive to date.  Lawrence of Arabia is a definitive classic that is well worth the three and a half hour run time.

Full Metal Jacket:

  • Release: 1987
  • Run Time: 116 min
  • Budget: $30,000,000
  • Metacritic: 76

Stanley Kubrick, an objectively groundbreaking director, released his commentary on the Vietnam War with the devastating cost of that conflict still on the minds of the American public.  Full Metal Jacket follows the story of a young marine, nicknamed Joker, and his trials through basic and Vietnam itself while he wrestles with his purpose and what he is doing in the hell on earth that he finds himself fighting in.   

 As Joker tells an officer who asks him why he has “Born to Kill” written on his helmet and a peace pin on his coat,  “I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.” That is what this movie does, analyze the nature of mankind under the most extreme circumstances.  A dark and gritty film about a dark and gritty time, by a filmmaker with a complex perspective on war, Full Metal Jacket is a war film that is able to incorporate action without glorifying or glamorizing it.

The Godfather Saga:

  • Release: 1977
  • Run Time: 434 min
  • Budget(Godfather parts I & II): $19,000,000
  • Metacritic: not available

 Originally released as a TV miniseries, The Godfather Saga is a chronological supercut of The Godfather Parts I and II.  The Godfather is hands-down, one of the best movies of the 20th century, and The Godfather Part II is a worthy continuation of the tale of the Corleone family.  This version takes a different take, starting with the life of a young Vito Corleone and finishing with his youngest son Michael who inherits his role as Don.  

With a run time of more than seven hours, you are probably not going to be able to finish it in one sitting, and it would be best to watch the movies on their own first.  If you can get to it, The Godfather Saga is an engaging, if drawn out, way to experience Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece.