Star Wars, Forrest Gump, My Neighbor Totoro, Psycho and The Lord of the Rings are considered to be among the best movies ever made. Each movie, though, is a completely different style and genre, features a different story and has dramatically different cinematography. So what makes each of these a great film? Although they may not have much in common, there are a few key elements that have caused them to be among the most admired movies of all time.
The journey from the beginning to the end of a movie is one of the most important elements to a great film. A great story has strong characters and a plot that contains twists and turns that hold the audience's attention throughout the whole movie. In Forrest Gump, for example, the main character is a likable character because of his optimistic view of life. Forrest may not be the brightest man in the world, but he certainly has a heart that wins over thousands of people. The majority of the film is a flashback of Forrest Gump's life.
However, like most great films, the audience is not entirely aware of where the main character is heading throughout the movie. Forrest ends up running from bullies to fighting in the Vietnam war, owning a shrimp business and witnessing historical events such as Nixon's Watergate scandal. Forrest's journey contains so many twists and turns, all of which lead to him sitting on a bench waiting for a bus to see the only woman he has ever loved, Jenny. As Forrest's mother always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Good movies have good stories, and good stories are memorable.
Music and sound effects
The music and sound effects of a film also play significant roles in making a great movie. Music helps evoke a particular emotion in the audience, while sound effects can make a film truly feel alive. One thing to note is that both the music and sound effect should complement each other while aligning with the genre of the movie. Both of these key elements can change how people perceive a film. Star Wars contains some of the most iconic sound effects and soundtracks in the world. The beginning of each film features a tremendous opening track that nearly everyone in the world knows.
Although that theme screams adventure, many other moments in the film deftly depict other emotions. Some moments may include scenes of stealth where the music is tense, while romantic scenes contain calming and gentle music. Some scenes may lack music, but that is intended to show the audience that an important scene is occurring.
As for sound effects, things can become much trickier: science fiction films tend to rely heavily on those effects. Ben Burtt, the sound designer of Star Wars, made fantasy become a reality by creating such iconic sound effects in the Star Wars universe. Ben brought life to the lightsaber, as well as to R2-D2 and Chewbacca's voices. Music and sound effects are incredibly important to making a great film because they bring emotion and realism to the movie.
One of the most overlooked keys to a great movie is the cinematography. An excellent film may contain emotionally charged scenes, but poor camerawork will keep them from landing with audiences. The 1960 film Psycho – specifically the famous shower scene – is a great example of how horror camerawork should be done. The scene opens with a woman in the shower. The camera faces the door, viewing it through the transparent shower curtain. The door slowly opens and a shadow walks in. The unknown figure then quickly pulls down the curtain as the camera cuts to different angles of Marion getting stabbed in the shower. As she lays motionless in the tub, the camera follows her blood down the dark drain, which fades into her dead open eyes. While there may have been a simpler way to shoot the scene, the movie would not have had the same dramatic, lasting effect that it does.
Movies have entertained the world for over a century. There is so much thought that goes into producing great films, ranging from the music to the storyline to the cinematography. Some consider great movies to be timeless, but a movie would not be great if it did not create such a vast and memorable impact on the film industry and on our culture as a whole.