What can I as a screenwriter learn from old classic movies?
I was told that I didn’t know what I was doing if I needed to ask this question.
Well, I am of the opinion that things that are just accepted as a fact should be questioned.
It is our ability to ask questions that developed the human kind. One should not be afraid to ask questions. Even a stupid question might give a new angle to a problem and reveal the solution.
So what can I as a screenwriter learn from old classic movies?
The structure is often different. The pace is slower than today and far from hectic. I was surprised how long it took for Norman to be introduced in Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The dialog is different. Today the stars have all the good lines.
Sometimes the moral and attitude make me grind my teeth.
But still there are things to learn.
Old movies reveal our history. Not only the stories themselves but the way the movie is made. Knowing your history is always a good thing.
A movie does always reflect the time it is made. That is a known fact. By learning about the time when an old classic movie was made I can understand it even better.
It is also interesting to consider what triggs in me an old and "stuffy" movie and why? Which elements work, which don’t?
You fill your toolbox and get better prepared in many aspects.
So, yes, there is something to learn by watching old classics.
But what? Rent a bunch and have a look. If in doubt what you were supposed to learn from them, don't be afraid to ask.
Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.