It can be an interesting exercise to go back and watch classic films to see their interpretations of different groups and races of people. These questionable portrayals of African Americans, Asians, Jews, etc. could range from hilarious ideas of how different races and cultures act to downright offensive, villains that gave the entire race a bad name. I don’t want to give the impression that all old films were ignorant of other cultures and peoples. There are plenty of silent and early sound films that had honest and truthful representations of different races. What a lot of people tend to remember, however, are those many films that didn’t show certain groups in the best light. Westerns are particularly criticized for their depiction of Native Americans, often understandably. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to watch a 1930s film with not only an extremely pro-Native American stance but also a strong message of tolerance.
Note: This post is a late submission to the blogathon started by the great Kitty Packard. If anyone is not reading her wonderful blog, which you really should, you can find it here: http://kittypackard.com/
When I was in the sixth grade or so, the class had a reading day. We brought blankets and sleeping bags from home, sprawled out on the floor, and just read whatever we wished. The book I had picked off the library’s shelf was one by a famous sci-fi author, who I had probably heard of but had never read. When I took the book with me to class on the aforementioned day, I found I quite enjoyed it. Later, I told a friend of mine about the book, mentioning how I wished someone would make it into a movie. There was such a film, she said. For God knows how many years after that conversation, I imagined what the movie would be like. Then one day, I was watching TCM and it came on.
It opened with a man walking through a harsh winter blizzard. The man was tightly wrapped in heavy, warm clothes. He had a wide brimmed hat casting a shadow over his face, which was covered in gauze bandages. He walked into an inn filled with merry people laughing and having a drink. With his arrival, everything went quiet and he asked for a room. After being left alone in his new lodgings, he took off his coat and removed the bandages to reveal himself as the Invisible Man.
Once, when I was still in grade school, I walked into a dark room with god knows how many seats. Their occupants were all looking up at the biggest screen I had ever laid eyes on; all of them waiting for a film to start. When I was in college years later, I took my seat in an outdoor tent that could get blisteringly hot during the summer months. In front of me was a small, two-tiered stage where actors would soon tell a story to their moderately sized audience
Now more than ever, we live in a world of truly epic and massive cinema. Public theater screens are getting larger with the growing number of IMAX and other large format theaters. Specials effects that grow ever more complex and realistic are allowing filmmakers to fill these large canvases with mind blowing worlds and creatures. Privately, home theater systems are getting bigger and more sophisticated. These attractions can make some less willing to go out to a building or outdoor arena where a group of people are performing a live show, especially with the sometimes high price of admission.