David Cameron tells us that St George’s day has been “overlooked for too long” and suggest we should “celebrate what it is to be English”. I intended to do this with a list of the movie dragons. But there is another celebration today. William Shakespeare’s birthday. Dates are kind of shaky, but it is believed that he was born 450 years ago in Stratford-upon-Avon (about 30 miles from where I live) and died 52 years later.
I could easily list the best or my favourite movies adapted from his plays, there are currently 997 films, TV shows and shorts based on works. but there is a more interesting question: What will be remembered in 450 years time? Shakespeare wrote plays intended for public performance over 300 years before the first motion picture, they existed for all that time on paper and in countless performances on stage. The fact that his work survived for all that time is incredible and testament to the timeless nature of the stories.
How will people watch films in 450 years? Will there be films? Will the films we watch today survive? how many times will they have been remade? Will all movies survive or just the great ones? For every Hamlet, Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet (is it a reflection of my personality that I go straight to the tragedies?) there must be hundreds or thousands of rubbish books and plays and even a few good ones by forgotten authors. The same will probably be true in the future, but what will survive? In the documentary Side by Side (2012), Martin Scorsese talks eloquently about all the films that have been lost, and how film, the oldest form of exhibition is also the best form of preservation. More American silent films have been lost than have survived and around half of the “talkies” made before the introduction of “safety film” have also been lost.
How long will these words you are now reading exist? A few years ago I took the decision not to purchase my domain therefore, therefore in theory my blog will last as long as WordPress exists regardless of any input from me. I don’t expect my inane ramblings to last as long as the works of Shakespeare but the chances of them outliving me are a realistic possibility.
The following films currently make up the top ten on IMDB, I would like to think people will still be able to watch them in 450 years: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Dark Knight (2008), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Schindler’s List (1993), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Fight Club (1999).