Millennials seem to get a bad rap these days. Whether it's because they aren't buying homes or are supposedly spending all of their money on avocados, criticism is in no short supply. Typically trends about millennials are not a huge concern for filmmaker and Milwaukee Short Film Festival founder Ross Bigley, but a recent New York Post article caught his attention.
The article, Millennials Don't Really Care About Classic Movies, polled 1,000 millennials and 1,000 people over the age of 50 to compare their movie watching experience. As the title suggests, the study found that less than a quarter of millennials have watched a film from start to finish that was made back in the 1940s or '50s, and only a third have seen a movie from the 1960s.
"Oh, I haven't seen it. It's old, or it's in black and white - I sadly think that's probably an accurate depiction in that article," says Bigley.
Accessibility plays a large role in movie education. "(When I was growing up) you go home, you had the three major networks and PBS. When a movie came on the TV, because there was no video, Netflix, or RedBox, that was a big deal," he explains.
It's no surprise, Bigley says, that millennials aren't turning to classic films for entertainment. "While the technology is great, I think people are starting to be more in their bubbles."
So, what makes a movie a classic?
According to Bigley, while any movie that holds its merit at least twenty years after its release is noteworthy, audience connection plays a large part. "I don't want to say that all classic films should be high brow and 'art.' There are some great low brow stuff too, which can be considered a classic in the way that the director handles the material and media."
Ross Bigley and Lake Effect's Audrey Nowakowski put together a list of ten classic movies they think everyone should see... How do you measure up?
A Rundown of Some of Bigley's Favorite Classics
His Girl Friday: "Even though they are dressed in '40s clothing, and they got the phones with the second receiver and old fashioned cars - the writing in there, the acting, the chemistry- people can enjoy it today...It's probably a film that was ahead of its time when it came out because of the overlapping dialogue, the quick fast pace of it. And that probably played into how people feel comedy should be played nowadays."
Roman Holiday: "It's a charming film. That's a star turn by an actress. Gregory Peck is no slouch, but that really catapulted (Audrey Hepburn)."
Citizen Kane: "Citizen Kane is considered arguably probably one of the greatest films ever made. I'm a huge (Orson) Wells fan, and the innovation in (this movie) is just remarkable because he saw things differently than how the Hollywood system was."
Casablanca: "I love everything (Humphrey Bogart) has done - even the weird horror film he did in the '30s, which he was contracted to play."
Lawrence of Arabia: "It came at a time when Hollywood was combating television, and the wide screen format was really utilized. The images composed are just incredible and even the editing choices are always commented on."
Bigley encourages all to watch some classic films. Not only will you expand your understanding of film, he says, but the entertainment that came during the golden era of the silver screen is timeless.
"Imagine finding a book by an author that you just happen to discover, and then find out that maybe he has 30 more books and you can enjoy them. These young kids, imagine when they discover Humphrey Bogart and realize, 'Oh wow, this guy's been in those other films?' And you're finding something else to enjoy...they're not going to be disappointed going in that area," says Bigley.