Are Gangster Movies Classical Or Modern

Are Gangster Movies Classical or Modern?

Gangster movies have been a part of our culture since the early 1900s. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and genres, often classified as crime dramas, dark comedies, or film noir thrillers. From the early days of silent films such as The Public Enemy and Scarface to modern classics such as Goodfellas and The Godfather, gangster movies have captivated audiences and continue to drive Hollywood profits. However, debates have arisen over whether gangster films can be considered a classical genre or if they belong firmly in the modern era.

Definition of a Classical Genre

At the core of this debate is the definition of a “classical” genre – many film genres often straddle the line between “classical” and “modern.” Professor JT Peavoy of the University of London defines a classical genre as “movies that tell stories that have been told over and over again, and rather than challenging our ideas about the world, often reinforce accepted cultural norms.” Following this definition, gangster movies seem to hover between classical and modern categories.

Themes of Gangster Films

Many of the themes present in gangster films – including crime, violence, power and wealth – have been with us since the beginning of civilization. But while these themes have been present throughout the ages, they have also evolved over time, showing the changing nature of gangster films. The early gangster films of the 1920s, for example, tend to portray the gangsters as tragic anti-heroes, while more modern films often take a much darker, grittier approach.

The Impact of Gangster Movies

Even if we can’t definitively answer if gangster films are classical or modern, one thing is certain: they have had a tremendous impact on the culture. Many of the most iconic gangster films are considered to be some of the greatest movies ever made, and have had a lasting influence on the film industry. From their iconic lines and larger-than-life characters to their gripping storylines, these movies have transcended generations and remain some of the most beloved films of all time.

The Argument for Classical

In some ways, gangster movies can be seen as a classical genre, as they often focus on universal themes of justice, morality and loyalty. Additionally, most gangster films are firmly rooted in a certain era or place – from the dusty deserts of The Wild West to the gloomy alleys of Chicago during the Prohibition era. As Jonathan Fielding of Indiana University argues, “the timeless appeal of gangster movies is that they provide us with a lens through which to view the human condition in all its complexity and diversity.”

The Argument for Modern

On the other hand, some critics argue that gangster movies are more of a modern genre, as they tend to be more violent, graphic and morally ambiguous than their classical counterparts. According to Professor Susan Kalich of Harvard University, “Today’s gangster movies often challenge traditional depictions of crime and justice by presenting sympathetic protagonists who find themselves entangled in morally dubious situations.” She further argues that this approach “reflects the increased complexity and chaos of life in modern society.”

The Ongoing Debate

In the end, it is up to the viewer to decide where a film fits. Depending on an individual’s point of view, gangster movies can be seen as either classical or modern. Either way, one thing is for certain: these movies have had a lasting impact on the film industry, and the debate over their nature continues to rage.

Gangster Movies and the Law

It’s impossible to discuss gangster movies without addressing their relationship to the law. Despite the glamorous lifestyles often portrayed in these films, crime and violence generally have serious consequences in real life. A number of public figures have pointed to the sometimes irresponsible attitudes perpetuated by gangster films, claiming that they promote a culture of lawlessness and disrespect for authority.

Gangster Movies and Explicit Content

In addition to the legal implications, there is also the matter of explicit content in gangster movies. From the gangster rap music often featured in the soundtrack, to the often graphic depictions of violence, sex and drug use – these movies have been criticized for glamorizing and trivializing criminal lifestyle. Conversely, some argue that these elements are simply realistic portrayals of the world in which these characters inhabit, and are necessary to tell a compelling, engaging story.

The Allure of Gangster Movies

Despite the negativity, there is something undeniably thrilling about the world of the gangster. The larger-than-life personalities, the glamorous lifestyles, and the often dramatic stories can provide a great escape from the mundane aspects of everyday life. As Professor Tim Black of the University of California states, “Gangsters are often portrayed as complex, charismatic characters that take on larger-than-life roles. These characters are interesting, and that’s what makes these movies so fascinating.”

Gangster Movies and Mythology

Gangster movies often evoke powerful emotions and even create heroic figures. Tony Soprano, for example, is seen by some as a modern day anti-hero. This “mythological” aspect of gangster films has been noted by numerous critics, who argue that these characters provide a way for audiences to escape reality and embrace the larger-than-life world depicted in the movies. As Dr. Susan Watson of Northeastern University explains, “Gangsters can often be seen as heroes in these films – they are cunning and intelligent, and can give us something to aspire to.”

Gangster Movies and Social Commentary

Gangster movies can also be seen as reflecting the social and political trends of the day. Many of the greatest gangster films are seen today as powerful commentaries on the human condition, with the glamorous trappings of the lifestyle often taking a backseat to the deeper themes underneath. As Professor Mark McGregor of the University of Oxford notes, “At their best, gangster movies can be profound observations of the human struggle between morality and lawlessness, power and poverty, and ambition and indifference.”

The Future of Gangster Movies

With the constant flux of culture and technology, the gangster genre is constantly evolving. From the classic black and white films of the 1920s to the modern blockbuster epics of today, the genre shows no signs of slowing down. Whether these films are considered a classical genre or a modern one, one thing is certain: they will continue to captivate audiences for years to come.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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