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The Great Train Robbery, Movie Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 324

Movie Review

The effect of 1903’s The Great Train Robbery on that era’s jaded and first-time movie viewers alike is known: it was electrifying. City dwellers, used to the poor production-values of the loops they had been watching since the invention of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope in 1894, doubted that films could ever rival the stage. But Edison’s theatrical effect of the moving train, seen through the window of the office as part of a dramatic narrative, changed all that. Audiences rose to their feet and applauded. Yet that narrative failed, leaving unexplained both the unarmed Wild West passengers and their failure to see out their own windows as the bandits approach.

A far more recent film I saw was the Academy Award–winning The King’s Speech. I enjoyed watching it, yet even as I did so, I realized that I would probably never want to see it again. It’s not that it’s overrated. It was, in its way, a thrilling movie to watch — once. But it does not do the one thing that I think a great story must do: seduce the audience into accepting the plausibility of an implausible plot. Without that work to do, a story has no heroic challenge to overcome as art. In writing this essay, I tried to think of a dramatic movie I would want to see (or have already seen) again and again, like The Wizard of Oz, where that challenge wasn’t met in full. Whether from faulty memory or not, I couldn’t think of one. Historical tales have this handicap from the outset, which is why fictional accounts of historical events nearly always have to fudge the facts a good deal — a practice that dates at least to Shakespeare’s Henry the VIII.

There are films to see once and films to see again. The former may be good, but the latter are great. The King’s Speech is only a good movie, but good is not good enough to encore.

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