Moviemaking is an art form and, as such, there are virtually countless ways to approach telling a story through a visual medium. Naturally, not all movies are going to be rock-'em-sock-'em, nonstop pulse-pounders. Many films are much quieter in their power and technique, and that subtle quality can sometimes be mistaken for dullness or tediousness. It's hardly surprising that film history is full of movies some viewers find boring - when, in reality, many of these flicks are anything but mundane. They simply require viewing from a different theoretical vantage point: View them not from how they compare to the latest live action blockbuster, romantic comedy, or horror movie, but how they stand on their own as a work of artistic storytelling.
Not all subject matter is going to be palatable for every audience member. Still, a lot of these movies are worthy of a second, more aware viewing. In reality, these are movies only boring people find boring.
Yes, Gone with the Wind is problematic. It suffers from race-based stereotypes and presents a romanticized view of life in the Confederate South. But Gone with the Wind is a classic of filmmaking. It set the standard for all epic movies that would follow. Watching it is an experience, from the sweeping overture music to the final credit. Each and every technical achievement is an expert in design and execution.
Scarlett O'Hara and her determination to survive both the Civil War and a tempestuous marriage to Rhett Butler are what most people think of when they hear the title Gone with the Wind. But, in reality, the film is an artistic and technical triumph.
Actors: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, George Reeves, + more
Directed by: Sam Wood, George Cukor, Victor Fleming
Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is one of the great misunderstood sci-fi epics, like 2001: A Space Odyssey. The pacing is glacial; it doesn't seem to have much to say on the surface; and there's a strong focus on the visual. Still, it's the furthest thing from boring. Set in futuristic Los Angeles, the movie charts the goings-on in a society where genetically engineered humans are sent to work in otherworldly colonies.
But both the storytelling and perspective on display here are the reason to endure Blade Runner's more interminable aspects. Critics and audiences alike have hailed it as a genre-defying masterpiece, and the flick's gotten scrutinized from a variety of perspectives beyond film criticism, like through the lens of ecofeminism.
Actors: Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, + more
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Director Stanley Kubrick was never afraid to take chances, and he certainly took some significant filmmaking risks in 2001. Not only did he bring "alien movies" out of the realm of horror and closer to genuine drama, but the movie is super-long, there's no dialogue until about 30 minutes in, and there are abundant shots of astronauts floating silently through space.
As the movie unfurls its story of a mission to Jupiter with a sentient AI in tow, it is - as one viewer pointed out - a great example of showing, not telling. The director doesn't comment on the events of the film, but rather lets them exist outside of his interpretation. That can be maddening for viewers hoping to be challenged by someone else's visceral perspective. Instead, 2001 wants us to develop our own.
Actors: Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, + more
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is another epic story some viewers are put off by. It has a long runtime, and there isn't a single likable major character in the whole movie. Still, it paints a vivid portrait of a specific time in modern American history, whenin the lust for money and power trumped infinitely more important things like love, family, and community.
Actually, that's pretty much every period in modern American history. But what Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis do here is riveting nonetheless. To truly appreciate it, watch this movie as an allegory of American industrialism and influence.
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Ciarán Hinds, Paul Dano, Paul F. Tompkins, Jim Downey, + more
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson