When someone refers to timeless classics, usually Grimms’ Fairy Tales or Peter and Wendy or Alice in Wonderland or, the most “timeless” of all, Shakespeare’s writings come to mind. What do these works have in common? Age, their relevance through the ages, and a little touch of magic? Yet, as the digital age drives on, it seems as though the definition of a timeless classic is changing. Disney movies are considered timeless classics because of their significant impacts on generations of people. Can a movie ever really be timeless though?
As the the decades ware on, the quality of movies continually grows. Even from 1999, when the movie Sleepy Hollow came out, the blood, the make up, the acting were slightly cheesy and amateur in comparison to the movies of today. Look at even the progression of Doctor Who from its creation in 1963 to its 50th anniversary this year. It started as a black and white television show with little means for impressive special effects. Yes the acting and scripts have always been wonderful (and Doctor Who is unique in its following through today), however the special effects from 1963 cannot compare to those from 2013. The simple sound of the TARDIS appearing and disappearing has improved in quality since 2005, when the series was rebooted. The reality is that as new generations are born into worlds of such impressive movies, they will begin to forget about the older movies. Books on the other hand will never have this problem.
The only problem the written word will face is the changing social attitudes of the generations, but what does not fall victim to changing social conventions? Aside from that, the written word will merely progress from being printed on an old printing press to today’s mass printing capabilities to the growing library of the Internet. Otherwise, the words will not change. The reader’s imagination is their screen, and their story, the same story, will play untouched in readers’ heads through all of the generations, with only the exception of the diverse imaginations they inhabited. A film can never hold this same eternal touch. Eventually even DVD’s and Blu Rays will give way to some more efficient technology. Most movies will survive, but some, the forgotten ones, will be lost. (Actually, there are even some old episodes of Doctor Who which are missing, although I think that is for other reasons.)
So I ask you, is the film really timeless?
(p.s. This is not meant to be a critique of films– as you can tell, I love films and that one television show known as Doctor Who– but it is meant to provoke thought on the tenacity of the written word over visual and sonic words.)