Define Classic

By: Kara Haselton

The Wizard of OzMary PoppinsSnow WhiteFrankensteinIt’s A Wonderful LifeThe Sound of Music. These films pop into people’s heads when they hear “classics.” By definition, a classic represents “something that has been popular for a long time; serving as a standard of excellence; or historically memorable,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Most parents introduce their children to the classic films they enjoyed growing up, which explains why some movies have continued in popularity for thirty years and more. Still, the question of what classifies a film as a “classic” has not been answered. Some may say a movie can only be considered a classic if it was produced in a certain time period. Others may think it has to have made a certain amount of money or include famous actors and actresses. However, I believe it’s a combination of both.

Linton Weeks of addresses these questions in an article entitled, “As Time Goes By, What Makes A Movie Timeless?” A list embedded in this article shows his opinion on what makes a movie remembered as a classic. Weeks lists “strong directors,” “audience affection,” and “gripping stories” as qualities of such a movie. Furthermore, Entertainment Weekly has an article in the same vein, entitled “AMC: What Makes A Movie A ‘Classic’?” . This article incorporates a quote by AMC executive Ed Carroll who states, “To my kids, Home Alone and E.T. are classics, Risky Business is to me; to my dad, To Kill a Mockingbird.” This gives me the impression of a classic movie as a varied opinion among the different age groups of people.’s article “What Makes A ‘Classic’ Film A Classic?” includes several famous actors being quoted on what they believe makes a classic film. The overwhelming majority said their opinion was along the line of: classic movies are movies that can stand the test of time, are original, and are well made.

Most people agree that the movies the majority consider a classic, movies produced from the 1930’s up until 2000, have been superbly and originally made with admirable directors, and have endured being popular and adored for at least ten to twenty years. However, movies that have been released in the last few years might become known as a “classic movie” to people ten to twenty years from now. Some may think that the movies in The Lord of the Rings trilogy should be considered classics because the books they were based on can be considered classic books. Movies based off of books should not be considered classic and original unless the book itself earned the label classic.

I consider classic movies to be movies that I watched growing up and that my parents introduced to me. Movies like It’s A Wonderful Life definitely should be considered a classic in my eyes because being in black and white makes it seem more ‘classic’, it came out in 1947 and yet everyone still watches it, and its arguably a quality film. So, do classics have to be black and white? I don’t think so.

The movie The Princess Bride, another great classic despite being produced later on in 1987, has color, and everyone, including myself, still loves it. I do think a classic should be popular for at least five to ten years. People can start to predict if a movie will stand the test of time even the first few years after it comes out. The movies in the Toy Story trilogy, I think, can be considered classics, and even though the first one came out in 1995, the third one just came out in 2010, only five years ago. All three of the Toy Story movies were so well made, original, and entertaining, that they have withstood the test of time and anyone would enjoy them.

I know everyone else has their own opinion on classic movies, but in my opinion, classic movies are movies that I’ve grown up watching, have endured time and criticism, and that are expertly put together.