Editorials,  Movies/Entertainment

Does ‘Nostalgia’ Make a Movie Better Than It Is?

Blade Runner_HeaderAfter seeing Blade Runner for the first time about 6 years ago, I have been wondering ever since “why the world is infatuated with Blade Runner?” I’ll admit it looks cool but I don’t think it’s that great a movie. Sure, it gets high points for style and imagery but the ending alone killed it for me. Such an interesting story and all that build up for what…an unimpressive ending that just ends like they couldn’t think of anything better.

That’s my personal opinion but still I wonder, and more to the point of my post – Do people like it now just because they saw it as a kid?? Where did the increasing popularity come from? Same goes for Legend, and Krull (and basically any other movie from that era that I just don’t get). Admittedly, they are all very cool looking, but they just don’t do anything for me since I didn’t grow up with them.

Same goes for really any movie you saw as a kid. Does nostalgia tell you to like something now that, if you hadn’t been wow’ed by it as a youngster, you’d have to admit the movie in question is…<sub-par, hokey, insert adjective>?? As children, we are all ignorant of bad acting, plot holes, cheesy effects, etc. We watch something with our parents or older siblings and it’s clear that most of the time, we’re watching two different movies. Kids will focus on what kids focus on, and miss elements that make movies less than perfect. In the end, we all like movies for different reasons.

Personally I recall being floored at how cool James Bond was seeing him when I was in 3rd grade. I had not been introduced to the one, the only, Sean Connery, so my first Bond was Timothy Dalton.  He wasn’t totally bad but, (yes I’ll admit it now) he’s not the best either. I remember it was summertime and being home from school and I was watching License to Kill on HBO during the day and to a kid, seeing MI6’s best on our 22″ Sony TV was the coolest thing since Superman. Now fast forward 20 years…I try to watch that movie today (and yes I bought it out of nostalgia and because it was the better of the 2 Dalton movies) and try to keep myself from stating that it looks dated and some parts are awful. It has some good parts but it also has one really bad part…Wayne Newton…I rest my case, but this is still true to my point. For probably the rest of my life, anytime someone says Bond I think of Dalton because of my childhood.

So to advance my opinion, and maybe open it up to other films as a way of bringing hypothetical credibility to this post, I’ll ask this: could nostalgia keep you from acknowledging that even our most sacred films aren’t as great as we make them out to be (i.e. Sean Connery‘s Dr. No or Michael Keaton’s Batman)? Now I know these two examples are much better films as a whole and stand the test of time better than other entries in their respective series, but even these legendary inceptors have their faults. Again, I have to ask, do we look past their flaws because of nostalgia or because they established what coolness was to a child? I admit I do.

Furthermore, beyond defending a bad movie out of nostalgia comes one particular defense I hear plenty of times. It goes and ends the same way every time like this…”Yeah, well he was the first one!!”  OK, fine Michael Keaton did a great job as Batman and even though the film is not perfect, most people will agree that he was the best of the cinematic series..well, until Nolan and Bale came around. Yet, in an argument, people will stand in defense of the film’s weaknesses just because the actor in question was the first. It’s easy to overlook that Prince (really? of all people?) did the soundtrack whenyou can’t forget the image of Schumacher’s versions running around in neon lights and nipple suits. Well that defense only works when the movie is good. Can anyone seriously say that about a Spawn sequel (which will probably bomb) with a different lead character and defend the first film just because Michael Jai White was the “original” Spawn??

Now to close this little opinion piece, I will have to take a stab at applying my theory to the one guilty pleasure film I love more than any other from my childhood…Big Trouble in Little China. To those of you who have seen it, own it, or have grown up with it, you know what I mean. However, to be fair to those of you Blade Runner fans I may have offended, even the mighty Jack Burton’s legendary film has its flaws, weak spots and bad dialog. But again, seeing this as a child I was also wow’ed like no other movie before. I’m lucky to have watched the adventures of Jack, Wang and Egg as a kid and because of that they’ve become my childhood heroes, but admittedly, if I had only seen BTILC in passing on cable at my age now, I may have passed it up completely.

So, in closing, does anyone believe they love a certain movie just because of the impression it had on you as a kid??


  • Alex

    Hey, I liked Krull!

    I’ve read a few Batman books in my years and I still don’t think they come that close to the spirit of the comic. They should get the Grey costume for one thing.

    Michael Jai WHite was probably the one thing that was most right with the Spawn movie. I had no problem with him. Incidently, th Al Simmons Spawn is now the main bad guy in Image United a book that unites 6 of the 7 Image Comics founders.

    It really shows how things can change in the episodic nature of COmic books. For instance, Amazing Spider-man is a terrible, terrible book now. It’s the worst. Believe me.

    • Windquake

      Thank you for validating my thoughts on Blade Runner. I never saw what the big deal is. I have watched the movie many many times, just in case I missed something, but every time it ends, it just validates my thoughts of it as an “okay” movie.

      • Marc

        Well, for as many people who just love it, trust me, you and I aren’t alone at all in either “not getting it” or just thinking it’s “okay”.

        But what I’ve always held, beyond nostalgia and hype around a movie, is that opinions on film are subjective.

  • Stuart Richards

    I agree that nostalgia can make a film seem better than it is, however in my case when I do re-watch those films I loved so much as a kid now I am (or try to be) completely objective and will not let the hazy mist of childhood nostalgia taint my view.

    The Teenage Mutnat Ninja Turtles films, The Witches and dozens of others are films that I have revisited in recent years only to be disapointed. However, there are many films that are just as good as I remembered them. There are even more that have improved with age. The slating that Batman Returns gets nowadays, especially in the wake of The Dark Knight, is completely unjust and Robocop 2, a film I always thought of as a contender for worst sequel ever is actually pretty bloody good.

    All in all, I know for many people nostalgia does seriously alter their perception of what is great (my older male relatives in the 40-50 age bracket believing Roger Moore to be the best Bond proves this) but in my case I think I am pretty good at being subjective.

    Also, I hadn’t seen Blade Runner until 2 years ago when the Final Cut was released and I bought the 5 disc boxset. My feelings towards the film were similar to yours but having re-watched it a few times I now find it to be absolutely extrodinary. It is easily in my top 5 films of all time and that is without nostalgic momories. It is much like any highly hyped film that you watch years after its’ release, they are almost always a disapointment, especially when they are as ambigious as Blade Runner is. I highly recommend you give it another go, this time without any expectations as you already know the story and characters, really absorb the atmosphere, sleep on it, let your mind absorb it then maybe watch it again a week later. It seems like a lot of effort for a film, you could argue that if you have to put that much effort into enjoying it and discovering its’ greatness then it has failed but I feel that in Blade Runner’s case the effort is worth it.

    • Marc

      Wow, thanks for the comment! You know it’s that kind of encouragement that will certainly get me to give it yet another try. So the “Final Cut” huh? Hadn’t seen that one but now I’m actually excited to try it again because of your suggestion. Appreciate your time!

      • Stuart Richards

        I’m more than happy to oblige! Out of interest, which version of Blade Runner did you previosuly watch? The Theatrical relase (with narration) or the so-called Director’s Cut (first time the narration was missing)? I’m sure you have a mate with a copy of the 5 disc set, try and borrow (I think) disc 2, Dangerous Days – The Making Of Blade Runner and watch that a day or two after watching the Final Cut. A look into the history of the film will help greatly and since you’re obviously a film geek (as we all must be to be posting this on the internet) I think you’ll find well worth your time.

        One more thing on the subject of nostalgia. Does anybody every find themselves actively avoiding films and TV shows they loved as a kid due to not wanting to be disapointed? For every film and show I’ve re-watched that turned out great (Batman Animated Series, The BFG, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol) there have been ones that were pretty bad (The Dreamstone, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Real Ghostbusters). I find myself reluctent to watch old favourites such as Darby O’Gill and The Little People or Inspector Gadget (the cartoon, not the film – that sucked even as a kid) in case I dislike them and my memory of them is ruined.

        • Marc

          Actually I wish I had taken that stance, but I (some years ago), eagerly sat down to watch Voltron, Thundercats and The Real Ghostbusters on different occasions. Oh, how quickly these once legendary shows fell flat and seemed nearly foolish compared to the pedestal where I placed them on as a kid. It was like one bad move after another and had me saying, “OK well Voltron didn’t hold up well, maybe Thundercats will be better. God no!…How about The Real Ghostbusters…why God, why??”

          And so I try to keep the memories alive and avoid (at all costs now) to re watch those hallowed shows from my childhood. Good point Stuart. You may have inspired me to write a new post, thanks!

          BTW, I think I saw the Theatrical Release (three times)

  • Disco

    Some films are great simply because they were among the first to do what they did.

    Blade Runner was revolutionary when it came out. It set the theme for hundreds of dystopian movies in the 80s.

    Dr. No was the first Bond film. That’s simply it. It was the first.

    Tim Burton’s Batman was the first dark Batman movie.

    Sometimes nostalgia has nothing to do with it, it’s simply recognizing something for originality, ingenuity, and being the first to do something.

    • Marc

      I agree completely, and that’s the other point I was trying to make. Good call and thanks for noticing!

  • Baron

    I saw Blade Runner for the first time 2 months ago, and I think it’s amazing.

    So… you’re wrong. =P

    • joey

      I saw Blade Runner for the first time a year or so ago. Well, the first time I tried watching I fell asleep after 25 minutes. But the second time was pretty good. There are so many different versions but I saw the one with no end narration by Harrison Ford. I loved the end monologue by the lead replicant which (I found out later) the actor improvised on the spot. But I found it to be kind of bland at times. So no, I don’t see why it’s always rated at #1 on everyone’s favorite sci-fi listings.

      The ’89 Batman is a bit of a bore and kind of a poor representation of Batman. I love the Nolan treatments a lot more. But they say every generation gets the Batman it deserves.

  • John

    I think the critical consensus on Blade Runner says it’s a bad example – it may not suit your tastes, but it’s a good movie.

    That said, of course nostalgia colours our opinion of movies. Recently, I watched Grosse Pointe Blank and Mystery Men, real favourites of mine as a teenager, with a mix of people who felt like me and people who hadn’t seen them before. The reaction was split exactly as you’d expect.

    You made a point about firsts, and I think that’s very much a separate thing to nostalgia. It can be difficult to appreciate that the old cliché-ridden film you’re watching is cliché-ridden exactly because it was new and memorable and cool and it influenced pop culture and film makers for generations afterwards. Does that make it a better film than it is? Not really, but it makes it a more important one.

    • Marc

      So true, and that’s why I believe that ‘The Matrix’ (for all the parodies, puns and knock-offs it spawned) may also not be the greatest film ever, but it’s importance is undeniable. It was revolutionary and game changer which will, like you said above “nfluenced pop culture and film makers for generations” Thanks for the comment!

  • Pete

    You had to have been there when it was first released-on the big screen-not catching it after the fact-applies to any film.
    Blade Runner is still the state of the art,as is Star Wars,A L I E N ,Indiana Jones-and they wore their homages to earlier film serials,monster movies,etc Honestly.
    Unlike The Matrix or ID4 who pretended to fool audiences that they were something new and original-and were anything but.

  • Martin

    The reason nostalgia makes a movie last the test of time is because it brings back the feelings of excitment you had the first time you saw it. Of course some movies are just good. I didn’t see Blade Runner untill I was an adult and it’s a little slow but it is a pretty good movie. I also saw Big Trouble in Little China as an adult and it does not work as a film for adults.

    • Marc

      There’s no doubt that you have to have been a kid to love Big Trouble in Little China. So like I wrote in the end of the post, I’m glad I did catch it as a kid, otherwise as an adult now myself, I’d more than likely share your opinion.

      • Dave

        I’m not certain that one needs to watch Big Trouble In Little China as a child to appreciate it as an adult.

        As a child, I legitimately thought Big Trouble was a serious (with some comedy) action movie the same as any other pre-Die Hard 1980s action movie. I didn’t watch the movie for maybe 15 years only to discover that Big Trouble is a comedy with some action.

        I know that a lot of mid 1980s action flicks are now pretty funny (Arnold vehicles especially) but Big Trouble transcends that because it was supposed to be a comedy. I was too young to get the joke because I was too young to understand satire no matter how in my face it was.

        So, I think it’s possible that I would have liked Big Trouble In Little China now because I’m old enough to get the joke. It’s not even the same film whereas something like Mannequin is the same film and I know I only like it because of nostalgia.

        • Marc

          Well I really hope that people can get into and like BTILC regardless of when they saw this and I thank you for sharing a similar opinion on the matter. Also, much like you I’m positive that had I watched Mannequin now, and not having seen it as a kid (or had a HUGE crush on Kim Catrrall, who funny enough was in both movies) I would have definitely passed on it. Nice reference to the Arnold films as encompassing action and humor. They, now that you mention it, fare well with and without nostalgia as a factor.

  • Thor

    Are you sure you even understand Balde Runner? It seems like you think it’s all style, no substance, which is so freaking no true. It’s a very, very deep movie, about what it means to be human, the wanting to live, and be remembered. And that’S exactly what the BRILLIANT ending was all about. (I saw it three years ago for the first time.)

    “It really shows how things can change in the episodic nature of COmic books. For instance, Amazing Spider-man is a terrible, terrible book now. It’s the worst. Believe me.”


    It’s generally considered to be quite good.
    For seven years straight it was written by the same man that made Babylon 5 and wrote Clint Eastwood’s Changeling.

    • Marc

      Well, I have offered it one more go thanks to the comment from Stuart, so maybe this time I’ll get it and write a recantation. But as of now, like I’ve said before, “some films you get, others you don’t”. Opinions are subjective.

  • Eric

    Nostalgia is all there is. A film, like any other intellectual property, only really exists in the mind.

    Does looking back on that memory of experiencing a film make it better? It can but also it can detract from it. Viewing a film can be about the entire experience, where you sit, what you smell, what else is going on in your life at the time. Remembering a film along with its individual and subjective “personal-life-context” can make it a more powerful experience. Other films that strike you at the wrong moment, or without personal-life-context can become lost in time, fogotten, left behind as just another movie.

    Additionally, films are often best viewed in respect to their original place in time, their historical-context. Remember that “Blade Runner” was released in 1982. Sci-Fi was big that year with “E.T.,” Ben Kingsley won the Oscar for “Ghandi” and Wolfgang Petersen gave us “Das Boot.” Coming after “Star Wars” and “Alien”, this was an attempt at combining Sci-Fi (which was big at the time) with Film Noir (at that point almost a forgotten genre). But, in my opinion, this combination did work better as a novel than a film. Spielberg tried this same combo with “Minority Report” in 2002, and Alex Proyas again tried in 2004 with “I, Robot.” Both, in my opinion, worked better than “Blade Runner,” but in the historical context you can easily argue that without “Blade Runner” neither of these films would have turned out as they did.

    In the context of history, “Blade Runner” was a big career move for Harrison Ford, getting him away from “Star Wars” and helping him develop stronger acting chops. It inspired Ridley Scott to keep the downtrodden feeling of a disillusioned future for his famous “1984” Apple ad, and in inspired the aforementioned “Sci-Noir” films (to turn a phrase) that came after.

    All this is part of the historical-context of a film. To truly appreciate it this has to be taken into account. Even the immortal Shakespeare agrees, “what’s past is prologue.”

    Does “Blade Runner” hold up to today’s films? Look at the personal-life-context in which it is viewed; in my opinion, no, it does not. But in historical-context it stands as a prophetic work upon which others have drawn inspiration.

    So, does nostalgia make a movie better than it is? Like the personal-life-context in which a work of art is viewed, that answer can only be left to the viewer.

    • ddamaged

      Let’s not forget, that Blade Runner created Cyberpunk. William Gibson said one of his main influences for writing Neuromancer was Blade Runner.

      • Windquake

        Just because a movie influenced a writer, doesn’t make the movie a great movie. No matter how good the book turns out to be.

    • Marc

      See, it’s people like you who I need to have regular conversations with! It was groundbreaking for the time I will always give it that and yes, it paved the way for countless films and inspired numerous filmmakers. But to me, the story was too ambiguous and I was expecting more on the surface plot not inferring undertones.

      Usually when I get in the firing range for saying, I didn’t like (or didn’t get) Blade Runner, I get lambasted, but as you point out there are many reasons for an opinion. One of them is, as you say, “personal life context”, another one is preconceptions or just hold fast likes/dislikes. If something hits home with you, good, if not then it’s ok too because it’s your opinion. Thanks very much for the comment and your informative film info!!

    • Darren

      You bring up some interesting points here but I have to say I disagree with a lot of them. I saw Blade Runner for the first time less than ten years ago when I was in my mid-teens and I think its one of the best Sci-Fi films i’ve ever watched. With that in mind it has got better the more i’ve seen it and the different versions of the film all enhance your understanding of the film even though some versions are better than others.

      Why I think its so good is because stylistically and thematically it does eveything I like in science fiction. Good science fiction is about exploring boundaries, philosophical issues off the self while at the same time working on multiply levels (the film is as deep or as shallow as you are willing to look at it) because it looks into the notion of what it is to be human, to be real, while on the other hand being a generic detective thriller for me makes the film so watchable.

      I think nostalgia can affect interpretation but more so cultural context. As a modern viewer you become accustomed to generic conventions and so you understand a film based around your knowledge of understanding of the films you watch (namely recent ones). I have a lot of friends who dislike a lot of foreign language films in particular, however when they have seen a lot of them, they gain a knowledge and understanding of viewing and with this can interpret the film in more pleasing ways because you become accustomed to them, and their stylistic differences don’t seem so foreign to the point of being uncomfortable to watch. it’s the same with a lot of younger people i know and black and white movies they get used to them through viewing experience.

      As for the naivety of youth in reading bad acting etc. I think it’s way more complicated than that. As a child of the 80’s I can list a ton of movies that I will always love “the Goonies, the Karate Kid, Big trouble in little china etc” but not really for a sense of nostalgia (They don’t make me think back to a specific time per say) it’s more a case of changing viewer perception. But again when you say bad acting, cheesy effects etc. That isn’t nostalgia making a film appear better than it “actually” was when you were young but you growing up to different tastes and expectations… the 80’s was a very campy era but at the time (not just for children) the effects, acting etc. were just as good as any other period, the difference was that their was a different criteria in both modes of production and viewing.

      It’s all just a matter of experience, we may just see the film in a different way.

      • Marc

        OK, you make some good cases in elaborating on the points in this post. True we all take in movies differently but when you saw Blade Runner in your mid-teens, what else were you exposed to and did you have anyone else egging you on to see it and claiming it was “awesome”?

        While I’m not saying the truly bad films like Dolph Lungren Masters of the Universe is a good movie just because of nostalgia, I’m just asking, “do you like movie now solely because you liked it when you were younger?”. Maybe Blade Runner is the wrong movie to use as an example for this post, but I still have countless other examples where nostalgia does make a movie better. Beyond that, I understand how a movie can change your perception and influence the way you view other movies from that point on. But again, it all comes down to personal opinions and opinions being subjective. Thanks very much for the comment!!

  • ddamaged

    I’m actually old enough to remember the ad campaign, the reviews, and the grosses of the film. It received mixed reviews, though Siskel and Ebert gave it thumbs up, and it barely showed a profit. So, in a way it was sort of a sleeper movie at the time, despite the popularity of Harrison Ford (remember this was released between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi). I’ve taken three college classes that used Blade Runner to discuss everything from Post-Modern Philosophy, the Frankenstein/Prometheus myth, and cognitive science and the exploration of the strengths and weakness of artificial intelligence and synthetic consciousness. I have never heard of Krull, Legend, James Bond, or Big Trouble in Little China used for such academic purposes.

    • salmonius

      You do realize that you can take college courses on the history of maple syrup and 19th century Russian literature about adultery, so being used to teach is in itself insignificant

  • Brian O'Rourke

    Good post, you raise some good points. I love Krull, because I grew up with it. I realize now it’s not a great movie, but it does have its moments, and Horner’s score is incredible.

    Big Trouble in Little China is a different story, though. I too grew up with that flick and loved it as a child, and still love it today…only for very different reasons. As a kid, I was wow’ed by the kung fu, the crazy turns in the plot, the magic, the effects, and the overall sense of adventure and fun. I still like it for those reasons, but now I also enjoy the film as a very ironic entry in the action genre. The movie’s a lot smarter than people think it is, and I love how the hero of the film (Kurt Russell) is in fact the sidekick, and the sidekick (forget his name) is actually the hero. There are a lot of other things going on in the movie, including some more sophisticated humor.

    • Marc

      I think one reason people (who didn’t grow up with it) would pass it up today, is that it is a bizarre mix up of different genres, so you can’t easily identify it. Is it a comedy? Is it serious? Is it an actioner? Actually it’s all of three and more. Cheezy? sure. Fun? yes. Quotable? Without a doubt…Some films you turn your brain off to enjoy and I’ll do that any day of the week. And well said Brain, it is smarter than people think it is. Thanks for the comment – nice to know another BTILC fan out there!!

  • SuiCyco

    You’re right to some extent. As few posters before me stated, Blade Runner IS a great movie. The ending in particular. You probably know that the movie is based on a novel titled “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. The answer is NO. They dream regular sheep like humans do. Hence it is possible for a human to fall in love with an android and vice versa. That’s the point and the point has been made. Unlike Law Abiding Citizen, a movie about justice in which there is no justice? Were Gray and Wimmer too afraid to take it all the way because of the terrorist connotation? I don’t know, but that was a really good movie with a really BAD ending. As to other movies you have mentioned, you are absolutely right, most of them are actually ridiculous from today’s point of view, and yes, we still love those movies because of nostalgia. 🙂

    • Marc

      OK well that point you made about the dreaming and falling in love actually makes sense so it should make me feel better about the ending when I watch it again.

    • salmonius

      Thank you for telling ME what I consider a great movie. In my opinion (which is what all these comments really are, despite your use of capitalization), you seem to have forgetten the fact that’s Ridley Scott has stated in no uncertain terms that Decker was a replicant, so we don’t have android/human love, we just have two androids who found each otehr’s company pleasing.

      • Marc

        Well you can take whatever you want from the film and I believe that’s due to the ambiguity of the entire story. Ridley’s true belief that Decker was a replicant (something even Harrison Ford wasn’t thrilled about) has changed the view of the story for many people I’ve talked with. Further, I’ve heard just as many love it vs. hate it comments for that plot line as I have for people who either love vs. hate the movie all together.

        I see the point you make with your last sentence and I like the sound of it. Kind of puts things in context for me personally. Thanks for your comment!

        Lastly, now that you put it in those terms, I can’t stop likening it to the movie Bicentennial Man…which was actually quite good although it was a much lighter fare than this.

  • CMC

    I am in total agreement about nostalgia making a movie better. I seriously thought that was the reason I didn’t like the most recent 3 Star Wars movies, but absolutely LOVED the movies from my childhood. But upon reflection, I think it’s because the earlier films were great and the last 3 just sucked.

    • Marc

      Prequels sucked, Well that goes without saying:) But I’m sure that one day, the kids who are now growing up with the Prequels will claim they are awesome solely because of seeing them as kids. Nostalgia…it can really make or break a movie sometimes. Thanks for the comment!!


    I agree with the premise of your article. A perfect example would be The Exorcist. So many people claim it’s the scariest movie ever made, when in reality, it’s a completely overrated, boring, steaming pile of dog dookie. Sure, if you saw it as a kid when it first came out, and you didn’t fall asleep in the first 45 minutes, it probably was scary. But as a child of the 80’s who cut my teeth on Italian horror and splatter flicks, The Exorcist just didn’t hold up. I hated it. Still do. Nothing is ever as good as it was when you’re a kid, because you had no context.

    I think it can work in reverse too. I didn’t like Blade Runner when I was a kid, but as an adult I think it’s a fine film. Big Trouble in Little China gets better every time I see it. You really have to be a grumpy, sad person not to like that flick, no matter when you first see it.

    • Marc

      Good call on “context”. That’s what I was trying to say when I wrote that as children we are ignorant of bad acting, cheesy effect etc. Thanks for reiterating it.

      And awesome, another fan of BTILC!! Welcome to our little corner of the world:) Man do I just love that movie!!

  • MFranden

    I think you are confusing. nostalgic for a “zen-like” moment of movie love. Nostalgia captures the zeitgeist of the time…..A movie like Front Page or Mr. Deeds captures the sense of the time that they were produced, while sometimes a little dated around the edges, their quality of story and acting stands the test of time, becoming a classic 30’s film, (or some movie like Wiz of Oz becomes a “timeless classic” because it doesn’t reflect want the time during which it was produced).
    The Zen-like in the the moment of seeing a movie and LOVING it is just the moment of “being there”. I found Roger Corman’s Bucked of Blood to be one of my favs, because watched with a bunch of buddies one night and we HOWLED at its characterization of Beatniks.
    We have lost that “in the moment” thrill of seeing a particular movie when we are young, one that captures our attention and we think as “great”, because now everything is on disc and shown 40 times a month on cable. When we try to reclaim that moment by watching a DVD, it is not as exhilarating as the first time, because we see it with more educated eyes. This doesn’t diminish the sentimental value one iota, because sentimentality cannot be relied upon as a critical analysis.

    • Marc

      True, some films you will never replicate a theater going experience (mostly for the older movies). However, if you are on board with the story, characters, etc and if the story itself is compelling than it makes no difference where, when or how you see it. But this post is about nostalgia (be it your own, or the stigma of cultural nostalgia) and how you may only like something because of it.

      • MFranden

        Then it is the zeitgeist of the time that affects your view and analysis of your “favorite movie”. Your sick day viewing of Timothy Dalton’s Bond, is a perfect example. Movie viewing is so subjective because you are viewing Art. This Art uses two of your senses, that makes it more enveloping than viewing a painting in a gallery. So, it makes a greater impact on you at the time you see it. Besides depending on the circumstance (age and education), we tend to be more generous of a film, willing to forgive its short failings, it it entertains us relieving us of that sick day dreariness. Some movies become sheer guilty pleasure because they get better with each viewing. Now don’t laugh, but I find Mr. Magoo’s Christmas a cut above most of the Christmas dreck that appears at this time of year. I looked forward in the 60’s to seeing this annual flogging of Dicken’s story. I view it with nostalgia, because its’ cruddy animation (harkening to a simpler time) and its musical score is kinda catchy. On the other hand, even though I own several movies mentioned here in these postings, I could pass this vale of tears and never see them again, but around Christmas, I get a hankering to see Mr. Magoo’s Christmas.

        • Marc

          Well thanks for sharing your feelings about Magoo’s Christmas. I think I’m the same way with Yogi Bear’s Christmas:P

          And good call on the guilty pleasure and their increasing likability. I have my own guilty pleasure films that I just love watching and don’t care how dumb or cheesy it is. I’d put Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in that category, along with Encino Man and Mannequin. Actually I wrote a post about it if you want to check it out…

  • rtm

    Hey congrats on making it to IMDb Hit List, Marc, great post! I totally agree that nostalgia tend to make a movie better than it is. The one for me was Superman, as I saw it when I was a wee girl and fell in love with Christopher Reeve. As for Bond, though I grew up watching Roger Moore, I much prefer Dalton’s rendition of the British spy.

    Just a bit of trivia, Krull was the movie that made Gerard Butler want to be an actor, he saw it when he was 15 (http://www.indielondon.co.uk/Film-Review/300-gerard-butler-interview)

    • Marc

      Thanks Ruth! Gotta say that checking my dashboard this morning was a bit of a surprise to say the least with hits and comments going through the roof:) Guess a few people out there liked the post:P

      And, as always, respect for Dalton will never diminish:) Nostalgia be damned, he’s an awesome 007!!

  • Becky

    I agree about Bladerunner – I don’t get it now because I only saw it two or three years ago. It was okay to see a couple of times and I can see how it opened the doors for similar types of sci-fi movies, but it doesn’t blow me away the way it blows away the people who have been watching it over and over for many years. It’s entertaining, but not a phenomenal movie, so it must be the nostalgia factor. And as for James Bond, I will always think of Roger Moore in the same way you always think of Timothy Dalton!

  • Abby

    I didn’t see many movies when I was a kid (well, depending on how you define “kid”). There wasn’t much home video back then, and none at my house, and we didn’t have cable. Until I went to college and video got bigger, most of the movies I saw were in the cinema or on primetime network (which, yes, included a lot of Bond).

    I’ve worked hard to make up for lost time by watching a lot of movies since, but fortunately, I don’t have to defend liking any movies from when I was in grade school. 🙂

    As a result, maybe, I try to be careful to view movies considering when they came out. I’m not sure people growing up now can even do that. Try watching a movie with obvious matte lines or rear-projection with a kid these days and they’ll point things out and obsess over them. It’s no wonder people are remaking everything.

    Similarly, I dare you to go see The Exorcist in a cinema now. Anyone under the age of 40 will fall out of their chairs laughing when the doctor lights up a cigarette during their consultation. It’s early enough in the movie that some people can’t pay attention from that point on.

    I’ve gone on long enough for a comment, but I’ll pick The Exorcist to build my summation on. I find (the end of) The Exorcist profoundly moving in a religious way. And I’m an atheist and a skeptic. But that movie (and the Last Temptation of Christ) are as close as I get to that feeling. A man who has lost his faith gets it back, admittedly for good reason, and sacrifices himself to save (spiritually and physically) another. It gets me right here.

    Nostalgia? Maybe a little. I did first see the movie 25 years ago, probably. But it’s not for nothing, as they say. And I know better than to let a smoking doctor, or dated outfits, or primitive animatronics keep me from feeling it. I’m not too cool to let it get to me, even now.

    • rickluna

      When I went to the rerelease of the exorcist a couple years back there was some snickering and giggling from some teenagers behind me but by the end of the movie you could hear a pin drop and when the lights went up I turned around to see them and they looked like they were scared sh-tless. By the way I am an athiest as well and I still think it’s the scariest movie ever. I think it has to do with fear of losing of control.

  • SadBetty

    Krull, is a valid example. Yet another one, at least as far as I’m concerned, is The Neverending Story. Still holds some the old magic for me, but I KNOW it is only nostalgia doing the thinking. Same goes for The Dark Krystal, E.T., Explorers. Does not apply, however, to The Goonies, the Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: now these I still like and would have liked, nostalgia or no nostalgia. I’m sure of it (or is it still nostalgia talking?!!!!????).

    • rickluna

      The dark crystal is brilliant. You not so much. The movie is Jim Hensons Masterpiece and unlike Labyrinth it isn’t dated with pop music and bad hairstyles of human stars.

      • SadBetty

        Did you notice the “as far as I’m concerned” part of my comment? No? Didn’t think you had, otherwise you would have gathered from it that I’m just stating my own opinion, and not trying to establish a universal truth concerning the movies I’ve mentionned. Hence my dislike of your laconic, yet highly entertaining, “you not so much”.

    • Marc

      Wow, good examples both ways. I recently watched The Dark Crystal (a movie I’ve always loved) but it is getting a little tired and that made me sad since it is a great example of how nostalgia keeps me from outright selling the movie. I never like admitting when I’ve grown out of (or worse tired of) certain movies.

      Also I see how The Breakfast Club and Ferris stands up since it has a slightly more adult and more wide spread message. Thanks for the comment!

  • rickluna

    You are so completely off base with regards to Bladerunner but longtime BR fans are used to the all style no substance criticism. We just shake our heads and try to accept that some people just aren’t as smart as us. When someone says It just ends ask them if they understood the significance of the origami unicorn.

  • grant

    Nostaliga and perspective are definite huge skews in watching a film. I wouldn’t say that this is restricted to films from our youths either. Often when entering a film today were colored by the marketplace. Our expectations are set and often were committed to liking or hating a film before its release.

    As for nostalgia I’ve def got some gems. I dig Krull, and Blade Runner, but think that upon returning to Keaton’s Batman that its boring and slow, and Nicholson is the film’s saving grace.

    The best thing though is showing your friends a classic from your youth and when they dig it too.

    • Marc

      Your last statement pretty much sums up why I love me some Big Trouble in Little China. It’s kind of like a little club since, as you put it so well, “they dig it too”:)

  • the Kot

    No. Nostalgia doesn’t affect me. How many times do I have to read a blog/post/article about this very same thing? Write about something else for God’s sake. I honestly don’t care if you didn’t like Blade Runner and love Big Trouble in Little China. One is classic sci-fi, the other is classic popcorn.

  • Abby

    I thought that Ferris Beuller was a poor man’s Risky Business when I saw it in the cinema. Don’t think I’ve watched since it came out. Probably should get back to it sometime.

    Maybe that’s a negative anti-nostalgic bias right there! 🙂

    I’ve stayed away from Blade Runner because I’m waiting to see the Final Cut version (the BD is in the inbox at home, but I’m waiting ’til my projector’s back online). My experience showing the older versions to other people is that the movie really is more confusing and boring without the narration, so people who started with one of the later cuts first like it less. Whereas if you know the story and setup already, it plays fine without it. Maybe that’s just the people I know who missed it first time around.

    And the idea of Deckard being a replicant is still completely stupid and guts the movie of any significance at all. Sorry, Sir Ridley. The movie’s about what it is to be human and doesn’t work without humans in it somewhere.

    I know replicants are “just” genetically engineered humans (some people seem to think they’re robots for some reason), but you know what I, and the movie (used to at least) mean. Same thing the end of Terminator 2 says- if one of them can learn to be human, so can we.

    (For not wanting to talk about Blade Runner…)

  • Ace

    I had this experience recently while re-watching the TV show “Three’s Company” starring John Ritter. When I was younger it was one of my favourites and I thought it was hilarious. Fast forward 20 years and it is a pretty awful show that is really not that funny. What a let down.

    • Frank Billson

      I TOTALLY agree that nostalgia can make a film seem better. Before my cynical movie critic portion of my mind developed, films like Robin Hood Men In Tights seemed hilarious and The Gate was more frightening than Swine Flu. I sometimes deliberately do not re-watch films from my past in order to spare myself the disappointment of movies which seemed awesome when clouded with past memories of enjoyment. Alien is another one which was much more suspenseful when I was a bright-eyed kid who had never seen anything which looked like that before.

      • Marc

        A lot can be said for being young and watching a movie with no preconceptions or with limited exposure, for sure. I too was terrified of The Gate (nice call btw) but now it’s just silly. I can also see that when some commenters brought up The Exorcist. I believe cinema changes with the audience. Unfortunately, some films live in the moment and don’t stand the test of time. I LOVE Casablanca and I din’t grow up with it. I don’t get Blade Runner, but I also didn’t grow up with it.

        Liking a film can greatly depend on when you saw it, but also, like Eric wrote earlier, depending on the ‘context’ of your life.

  • sonny corleone

    i remember seeing the dark crystal as a really young child, early 90s, probably 90, 91, maybe 92. I would’ve been 2-4 years old and i remember the movie scared the living crap out of me. I own the movie now but I have never seen it since that first viewing. I just know it will never live up to it and I don’t want to ruin that image in my mind from that first viewing. Great article.

  • Ken M

    I saw Blade Runner in 1983 when I was 10 years old. Even though I was at that impressionable age, I didn’t really have a huge love for the film. It’s a great looking movie but left me cold.

    Of course at 10 years old I didn’t appreciate the more complicated and thoughtful themes the movie presented.

    Halloween was the film from my childhood that I really loved and feel the most nostalgia for. I saw it when I was nine on TV and loved it ever since. If I saw it for the first time when I was 20, I probably wouldn’t really like it the same way.

  • Barabbas

    I think you have to look at Blade Runner much how you look at a poem. The structure is fluid, and pretty, but there’s deeper shades under the surface. I honestly think it’s one of those films that is gotten or not. No in between, and I’m sure most can attest. Personally I enjoy the film, could be party due to when I was a child my father had it on VHS and I would watch it trying hopelessly in vain to comprehend the meanings. Then I would shut it off and watch Tron, or The Black Hole. Go figure.

    Goat butts against edge, and his horns become entangled.

    • Marc

      Nice quote Barabbas. How about this “We have to gather our strength, because right now there’s clouds and thunder. The image of difficulty at the beginning”.

      One Christmas, as a kid, I asked my parents for a Six Demon Bag…but they had no idea what I was talking about:(

  • Daisy

    I didn’t see Blade Runner until I was an adult, and I love it. It’s one of my all-time favourite movies. The first time I saw it, it was the Director’s Cut, but then my fiance and I bought the 5-disc Final Cut set and it has every version. The original theatrical release is HORRIBLE. They put part of the Shining into it for pete’s sake! Watch the Final Cut and see if you feel the same way.

    That said, I do think that for some movies and tv shows nostalgia can colour how we view them. For example, I absolutely love a whole array of Christmas cartoons and movies that absolutely make my fiance (who wasn’t allowed to watch tv as a kid) cringe! But for me, they remind me of my childhood.

    • Marc

      While the point of my post was to ask if there are any movies out there that readers believe is better (or tolerable) now mainly because they loved them as a kid. I agree with you that even if you don’t like the movie or have grown out of it, in some cases they still are a way of connecting with childhood or memories…actually, it’s a lot like looking at old photographs. Thanks for the comment!

  • Bruce

    When I was a child I hated Blade Runner – couldn’t see why it was so popular. Now, however, I love it and consider it one of my top 10 favourite films.

    Whereas Krull … I loved it as a child, thought it was brilliant. Now, after seeing it as an adult … let’s just say it it’s circling the ‘so bad it’s good’ zone for me now, but not quite getting in.

    Big Trouble in Little China was great when I was young, and is still great now.

    • Bruce

      Actually, I have to append that I only bothered to watch Krull again at all because of nostalgia.

      Also, after G. Lucas produced the SWars prequels, I no longer have much in the way of nostalgic feeling for Star Wars.

  • Abby

    I first saw the theatrical cut of Blade Runner (in a theater, go figure), then rewatched it mostly in the Criterion cut (from the Criterion LD) for years until the Director’s Cut came out and I saw that on the big screen. Since then I’ve seen the DC a time or two (I didn’t have it on video but taped it from one of the movie channels, I think) and the Criterion one several times. The 5-disc BD is awaiting my viewing.

    Recently had my Criterion LD’s jacket signed by Syd Mead. Yes, I came away from that signing with the coolest memento. Well, Syd and I thought so, at least. 🙂

    Anyway, I showed the Criterion version to several people who’d only seen the DC and they thought it helped clear some things up but wasn’t better. Other than the “Deckard as a replicant” angle (which isn’t explicit, I’d say), I’d go with the DC for re-watching, but my second hand experience is that it’s not as good for a first viewing.

    I can’t view it again for the first time, of course, but I always find new people to experiment on. I’ll test that theory again when I watch the Final Cut with a new bunch of people in a while.

    I also think it matters if you’ve ever seen it on a big screen. It really is amazing to look at. I’m hoping projection from BD will capture that experience satisfactorily. If you’ve only seen it pan & scan on TV, your “opinion” of the film is completely useless. Seriously. Wonder if seeing it first on the big screen makes more difference than these other factors?

    (OK, I’m not going to talk about Blade Runner any more here! 🙂 )

  • Steve-O

    The thing you have to remember is the movie was panned for the reasons you mention above when it was first released. It was a flop in theaters. People fell in love with the visuals and film noir/neo world later. The plot does drag… you are correct. The ending is unsatisfying no matter what version you watch. It just peeters out.

    • Marc

      It goes without saying that some movies do go over people’s heads. I will say I fall in that category and if I’m too dumb to understand it, so be it. I like what I like, and that’s my stance on the matter. Just not fond of it. But it is interesting how this post has really brought both sides to the table.

  • jmw-c3

    Hook. LOVED the movie as a kid. I still love it today, even though I know how cheesy it is.

    • Marc

      Nice call on Hook…couldn’t agree with you more!! And btw, the score (by the legendary John Williams) for that movie is one of my all time favorites.

  • Tom

    When I was 10, in 1969, I went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, on a 70 foot Cinerama screen. I was floored by the visuals, music and concept. For me, this movie has held up well, and far outshines Star Wars or Blade Runner. Aliens send a probe to alter the evolution of primitive apes, and bury another probe on the moon. When humans develop and get smart enough for space travel, the find and exhume the probe on the moon. It’s solar powered, and when they dig it up, the sunlight hits it and it sends a signal to a wormhole portal. When astronauts track the signal to its origin, they’re sucked into the portal where the advanced aliens accelerate their evolution again and turns one of the crew into a being of pure thought, trillions of years superior to modern man. Now that’s a thought provoking story that’s much better than the anthropocentric, pimply hyperbole that has passed for science fiction since.

  • Mary Dargin

    Has anyone watched a movie as adult that they saw as a child, waiting for a scene they vividly remember, which turns out not to be in the supposedly uncut movie. I have this problem with “Cheaper by the Dozen,” the original one–I know, I’m ancient–and several others.

  • Kevin Johnson

    If you click my name there, on my blog I’ve been actually reviewing my childhood favorite films. Most of them don’t hold up, some of them do. I try to be as objective as I can. Removing the nostalgic element allows to see what does still work, and what doesn’t.

    Also, Goonies sucks.

  • Glenn

    I saw Blade Runner as a kid. I was let down by the story but fascinated by the visuals. Cut to adulthood, and what one realizes is, this isn’t a pop movie — it’s the most expensive art film ever made, as they say in the documentary. It’s layered, it’s literature, it’s thought-provoking, and not at all intended for children or lazy-minded adults.

    Not only did I see BTILC as a teenager, it was the first movie set I ever visited (met Carpenter and Kim Cattrall, sweet!). But the film I was not into. Loved things in it, Kurt, some of the humour, but overall it didn’t gel for me. I do appreciate its genre experimentation and its wackiness with the main character. But it falls a bit flat.

    Exorcist was never a horror film to me. If a film transcends its genre and becomes simply a dynamic drama, then it’s successful in my eyes. I’ve never been scared by movies so I’ve always been able to observe and reflect upon the artistic accomplishment. Same thing with Alien. Both of these will definitely be dated under the surname of “Genre” but still stand out as breakthoughs in cinematic evolution. They don’t look dated to me; sure, film stocks and costumes and decoration and editorial technique evolve, but good writing and acting are luckily not so trend-happy. Dodsworth is still an amazing film. I loved The Matrix, the first two Star Wars, Raiders (only), and E.T. But I’ll tell you, while I saw ET a lot as a kid, I only watch Blade Runner now.

    Btw, check out movies from 1982 — that was THE great year for sci-fi horror, as many of those films transcended into greatness. The Thing? Many of the fx look dated now on BluRay (the rubber has no translucence like today’s latex technology) but I still love the paranoia and frankly, because of Cundey’s p

    • ddamaged

      The Thing was comic book movie?? I thought it was a remake of ’50s sci fi/horror mover

  • Glenn

    — Cundey’s lighting, let me bold and say, it was possibly one of the first Comic book movies to come out! (Okay, Conan came out that year too).

    • Marc

      Wow, nice reference to The Thing (which I’ll happily point out is my number 4 on my Flickchart). That film still totally stands up if you ask me, make up and prosthetics and all, because, as you mention, its all about mood and paranoia…plus it’s another bag up job from Kurt Russell:P

      I like your terminology and think I’ll now refer to myself as a “lazy-minded adult”. But does that mean it’s wrong for me to look for something tied up in a nice Hollywood bow? Not if I don’t want to be intellectually stimulated.

  • ddamaged

    Actually, Superman (’78) was the first big budget, A-List cast comic book movie to come out. Yes, I know that Margo Kidder and Christopher Reeves weren’t big stars, but all the other actors in major speaking roles were. (Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Glenn Ford, etc.)

    • Marc

      Yeah, looking back, that one one hell of an ensemble cast. Kudos to DC for being the first ‘adaptation’ to successfully make the jump to the big screen.

  • Brian

    Yes, nostalgia keeps us loving our old movies because they will always rekindle a part of that excitement we had watching it the first time.

    However, I think one of the biggest problems you are really having is watching a movie that has been built up too much. When you watched “Blade Runner” for the first time, you probably had heard people talking about how great it is. Your expectations were set so high from all the praise that when it did not live up to your hopes, the movie seemed that much worse because of it.

    It would be interesting to examine this side of the issue. Some of my most enjoyable visits to the movie theater have been to watch movies I knew very little about, and therefore had no expectations. When the bar is set low it is so easy to bound over it.

    The inverse is also true. Most cult movies thrive despite bad word of mouth. Many thrive BECAUSE of bad word of mouth.

    • Marc

      Well Brian, that’s precisely it!! I didn’t come into the film with fresh eyes or an open mind. Everyone in college kept telling me “dude, it’s the best film of all time” and so when you build something up that much it becomes almost impossible live up to the hype because you actually go into the film looking for so much more than the movie may be able to deliver.

      I don’t know if this is comparable, but I knew absolutely nothing about The Matrix and Hellboy and it’s because of that near ignorance that I was able to evaluate the films solely on their own and not have to fight off reviews, comments or preconceptions. I like the last line in your comment. “Many thrive BECAUSE of bad word of mouth” Well said! Thanks for the comment.

  • BNL

    Wow… lots of people have comments on this. I definitely agree nostalgia makes a movie better than it is. Additionally, nostalgia hypes up a movie more than it should.

    Burton’s Batman was awesome… when it came out. It was fresh and new. Nolan’s is better. In 20 years… maybe someone will make a better one. I saw Blade Runner as an adult, and didn’t care for it one bit. I didn’t care for 2001: A Space Odyssey either. Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond.

    Star Wars used to be impressive… and it still is.. for it’s time. It’s really not a good series of movies. Bad acting, writing and directing. Plot problems galore.

    In the end, everyone should just watch a movie for their own reasons. Whether you love it, loved it or wanna find out why someone else loved it. Your opinion counts, and it’s okay to have your own opinion. If you loved Year One and hated Wizard of Oz… have fun (but know… you will be opened to ridicule for that one). Don’t love a movie cause the consensus around you seems to. It’s okay to be bored by Kubrick, or think that Scorcese would be better directing mini-series instead of excruciatingly long movies (and doesn’t deserve Oscars for The Departed). It’s okay to think Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are overrated, and to wait to see Avatar before giving it the highest of praise. It’s okay to be a fan of Ninja Turtles, Shoot Em Up and Memento in the same thought process. It’s okay to be thoroughly more entertained by Transformers than The Hurt Locker. It’s okay to be an adult and think an animated movie about an old man and a little boy flying in a house held up by helium filled balloons is the best movie of the year

    It’s all okay.

    • Marc

      You know I think you hit the undertone of this entire post/comment string…”it’s okay to have your own opinion” Well said and btw, I think your comment kept getting better and better as I read it!! Thanks very much for your comment!!

  • James

    I contend its not nostalgia that makes us defend the films from the eighties / early nineties.

    Think about what was on TV in the late seventies. Brady Bunch, Alice, the Jeffersons, and reruns of I Love Lucy and the Andy Griffith Show. At the movies was westerns and martial arts films. Culture was for the most part wholesome and the eighties represented the departure of wholesome in favour of realism mixed with imagination. With Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Raging Bull, along with George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and even the shades of grey delivered in both the movie and tv versions of MASH — imagination began to be seen on the big and small screen as well as walls of taboo began to come down.

    What a pleasure i was to see dinosaurs come to life, to see flying cars after we were promised them from every decade since the fifties, and now the f* word was culturally acceptable.

    The problem is…the genie is out of the bottle and now everything is just different stages of loud.

  • Maria Pompeo

    I saw LABRYNTH for the first time last year…WTF??? Its horrible! Why do people love it so, and it is definitely because of the nostagia surrounding it.

    Seriously…the film is bad…and I could stop staring at Bowie’s balls.

  • James D

    I remember watching “Camp Nowhere” a long time ago and loved it. I watched it recently and realized how bad it truly is. On the contrary, I also watched “Heavyweights” as a kid and remember loving it. I also watched it recently and it is actually a funny movie. It has some dumb parts but overall the movie is still one of the funniest I’ve ever seen

  • mcarteratthemovies

    I’m adding this just so you’ll have 95 comments … ‘cuz I’m that good a friend. 😀

    • Marc

      Appreciated but as your efforts to get me closer to 100 comments are flattering , you do nothing to show your approval/disapproval of the quality of the post:) What say ye Mer?..yeah, I’m still in a sort of Robin Hood state of mind:)