In which I assist Millennials with a snarky silent movie comeback

Recently, Millennials were accused of not liking old movies and I am working on a more in-depth response but in the meantime, here is a quick comeback for my Millennial readers in the likely event that they are accused of killing classic movies.

One of the big things the article sniffs about is Millennials never having seen a black-and-white movie from beginning to end. Well, I think I can fix that.

I present you with an entire black-and-white movie in GIF form:

Watch this GIF and you can say that, yes, you have seen an entire old movie, Mr. Man. And one older than any of these argle-bargle troublemakers have likely seen. The 1888 sequence called Roundhay Garden Scene is possibly the oldest surviving footage in the world. So there.

Well, that was fun. Enjoy your classic and silent films, whoever you are and whatever age you are.

P.S. The header image is from The Doll, a silent comedy delight that everyone should see at least once.

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30 Replies to “In which I assist Millennials with a snarky silent movie comeback”

  1. Any idea why one lady is wearing a man’s top hat and the 2 guys are sort of walking around the 2 women? I’m guessing this is the oldest surviving comedy as well ?

  2. I think it depends on upbringing. I was a 90s kid, but my parents introduced me to classic musicals, which I still love. As a teen, I explored their non-musical collection, and then finally overcame my prejudice against silent film. Oddly enough, I never had an issue with black and white.

    It also helps to have a deep appreciation of history.

    1. Upbringing definitely helps but the original article is bizarre in its claims as the 50+-year-old participants only had one pre-1960s film in their collective top 10. “Boomers are killing classic film!”

      1. Well, this isn’t remotely scientific, but I have read stories of people who grew up with black-and-white steadfastly refusing to watch it as adults. I have personally come across older people who support colorization.

      2. It’s okay, the article isn’t remotely scientific either. I think it was literally just an online customer poll. But, hey, let’s get that Millennial clickbait!

        Yes, some of the most anti-classic people I have met were there the first time. (I never met them but the list includes some silent era veterans who considered their silent work to be an embarrassing blot on their resumes.)

  3. I was just impressed that the article didn’t mention the perennial favorite of the “boomers are killing classic movies” set, Citizen Kane.

    And I know a few millennials, and most of them have at least seen The Wizard of Oz, and are at least familiar with the Alfalfa/Buckwheat era Little Rascals movies; they’re fascinated when I tell them that the series started in 1922 and that many of them were silent. Some of them even do like silents, if the girl that stole my PD copy of The Lost World is any indication.

  4. I don’t know. I’m an 80’s kid. My grandma got me into the classics (one of many things I love her for). But when I try to talk about them to 20- or 30-somethings, I often met with, “Oh, I just can’t watch a black-and-white movie.” Actual words used. End of conversation. Which to me is like saying, “I can’t read a book, unless there’s pictures.”

    I know there are exceptions, but I don’t usually meet them.

    1. Maybe I just ran with an unusually classics-loving crew or maybe I was enough of a nag but most of my friends would watch at least one silent or classic film with me. They may not have been converted but they usually sat through without wiggling. 😉

  5. Ah yes, that garden scene is one of my favourite movies. I was excited when it appeared on youtube, or on whatever other movie clip-site there was that was available when I was a teen, which was in the 2000’s. I can’t remember exactly. It’s perfect for gif-format though.

    I guess I’m a millennial. A lot of people I know who are my age don’t necessarily watch movies made a 100 years ago. However, most of my contemporaries can still understand what it’s like to be a nerd, whatever the subject if one’s nerddom is. It’s easier than ever to find detailed information about any subject now, and also to find media relating to it. To a certain extent, I think obsessiveness is normal and accepted now, but that might just be my experience living in a town full of students. At any rate, I might not feel understood by my contemporaries, but I don’t feel judged either, so that’s okay.

  6. I find the “facts” in that article a little hard to believe. I’ve heard of many 20-somethings who adore black and white movies and the incredible actors of the day. I was born in the 90s and I’ve always loved vintage films more than any others. In fact, to this day I rarely watch anything made after the late 1960s. My most favorite movies are in glorious black and white. 😀

  7. Although I am a Late Buster, I have a number of Millennial acquaintances and friends through swing dancing, something that of course dates to the 1930s and 1940s. I find that those who enjoy 1940s and 1950s films seem to use Singin in the Rain as their point of reference towards silent films, and no, of course they have never viewed a silent film, or an early talkie for that matter. I have even had lines from that film quoted to my face (with the facial expressions, to boot!) as the means of conveying their indirect opinion of silent films.

    1. Whatever one thinks of Singin’ in the Rain as a musical, it has done almost irreparable damage to silent films in the eyes of the general public. I take a small amount of pleasure that 1950s films are now seen as nearly as anachronistic.

      1. i have always felt that singin’ in the rain was less about its story and more about being a 1950s mgm musical…i almost feel like in order to be offended you’d have to really “get” all the silent film references. remember that if this movie was released in 1952 and discusses events from 1927/1928, this is the equivalent of making a movie about the early 1990s today. in other words, anyone over the age of 30 remembers the period being depicted but it was already seen as dated and hokey even then (imagine a 1950s version of buzzfeed saying “if you had these toys your childhood was awesome” type thing). i personally enjoy singin’ in the rain for its cultural significance (and gene kelly’s rendition > the 1929 one imho).

      2. The problem with the film is not necessarily the original audience that remembered the silent era, it’s the modern viewers who view silents entirely through its lens. One of the reasons the “silent star with the funny voice” rumor won’t die is because people have absorbed Lina Lamont into the pop culture consciousness and figure that she MUST have had a real world equivalent. (Similar issues exist with Marion Davies and Citizen Kane.)

  8. i’m a millennial and am thoroughly ashamed of it. however, i need to give credit where credit is due. my city is inundated with hipsters (mostly millennials) and universities, and there is a booming demand for silent film screenings. i can think of five to seven local venues, all accessible by public transportation, that screen them REGULARLY. i can’t go as often as i’d like but how lucky am i to know that i can always catch another one in another month?

    mind you, the audience for these is never less than 90% baby boomers or older, but that other ten percent is still significant.

  9. I’m a Millenial, I think, being born in the early 1980’s, and I almost had to literally drag my Boomer mom to see Metropolis back in 2010 when the new footage was found. She assured me she did NOT like non-comedy silents, but she’s the best mom ever, so she waited for an hour in the cold of a San Francisco summer to watch a film she was sure she’d hate. She has since attended the SF silent film festival almost every year and jumped at the chance to buy Napoleon on blu-ray. Thanks to a Millenial who had zero interest in film as a medium until she saw Bette Davis in “The Letter”. Indiana Jones just didn’t do it for me as a kid.

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