Blog Directory CineVerse: Star Wars rates high among American film classics

Star Wars rates high among American film classics

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Star Wars will endure as a movie classic

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is the last in a 4-part article)

In 1997, the American Film Institute published its inaugural list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time, as selected by a blue-ribbon panel of leaders from across the film community. Star Wars: A New Hope ranked no. 15 on the list. When the AFI polled experts anew 10 years later in 2007, the film had moved up two notches to no. 13 on the list of 100.

“This list was not only reflective of the tastes of critics, industry insiders and actors and actresses who were allowed to vote, but it’s reflective of the general public as well,” said Seth Oster, communications director for the American Film Institute, whom I spoke with back in 1999. “Clearly, what they were saying with this list is that these 100 films, including Star Wars, have stood the test of time and quality as the great achievements of the first 100 years of filmmaking.”

The AFI’s 1997 list immediately caught the public’s eye, sparking healthy controversy and debate over the rankings, inclusions and omissions of favorite films.

“People will not always agree on movies,” said Oster, who adds that the list is meant to be subjective. “Our goal was to get people talking about the classics.”

Wherever Star Wars ranks among your personal favorites, Film historian Vivian Sobchack suggests that viewers should think for themselves and not be swayed by critical or public opinion.

“The glut of highly publicized ‘greatest ever’ and ‘top 100' movie lists “should be interpreted with a grain of salt,” she said. “The big, event movies like Star Wars, Gone With the Wind and Titanic will continue to place high on these polls and critics lists because of their overexposure and overwhelming popularity, but “unless you use a single criteria, such as ‘top 10 films of technical importance,’ or ‘best big box office masterpieces,’ it just becomes just another popularity contest.”

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