All-Time Top Films for Deep Culture Impact

Part four in series: The Oscar “Huh?!” Factor: Why Academy Voters Usually Pick the Wrong Film

Two decades of using film in the classroom has resulted in quite a few surprises in the stories with the deepest cultural impact on this generation.

by Gary David Stratton • Senior Editor

The list below is in no way infallible, but it sure could get a good Oscar weekend conversation going.  (See Deep Culture Impact Films for the ever-evolving DCI criteria.)

Key

Action/Adventure/Western

Comedy/Musical/Animated

Drama

Fantasy/SciFi

Thriller/Horror

* Indicates Academy Award Winner

url-51933  King Kong (F)

1936  Modern Times (C)

1937  Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (C)

1939  The Wizard of Oz (F)

1939  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (D)

1939  Gone with the Wind (D)*

1940 Fantasia (C)

1941  Citizen Kane (D)

1943  Casablanca (D)*

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1946  It’s a Wonderful Life (D)

1951  The African Queen (D)

1952  Singin’ In The Rain (C)

1954  Rear Window (T)

1954  On the Waterfront (D)*

1955  Rebel Without a Cause (D)

1954  Seven Samurai (D)

1956  The Ten Commandments (D)

1957  The Bridge on the River Kwai (D)*

20121210051712!Sleeping_beauty_disney1957  12 Angry Men (D)

1958  Vertigo (T)

1959  Ben-Hur (A)*

1959  Sleeping Beauty (C)

1960  Psycho (T)

1961  West Side Story (C)*

1961  101 Dalmatians (C)

1961  Breakfast at Tiffany’s (D)

1962  To Kill a Mockingbird (D)

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1962  Lawrence of Arabia (D)*

1964  Mary Poppins (C)

1964  My Fair Lady (C)*

1964  Dr. Strangelove (C)

1964 Goldfinger (A) and the entire Bond franchise, especially 1965 Thunderball (A) and 2006  Casino Royale (A)

1965  The Sound of Music (C)*

1966 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (D)

1967  Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (D)

1967  The Graduate (D)

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1967  The Jungle Book (C)

1968  2001: A Space Odyssey (F)

1969  In the Heat of the Night (D)*

1969  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (A)

1971  Fiddler on the Roof (C)

1972  The Godfather (D) and 1974 The Godfather 2 (D)

1973  The Exorcist (T)

1973  The Sting (C)*

1973  American Graffiti (D)

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1974  Chinatown (D)*

1975  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (D)*

1975  Jaws (F)

1976  Monty Python and the Holy Grail (C)

1976  Rocky (D),* as well as 2006 Rocky Balboa (D) and 2015 Creed (D)

1976  Taxi Driver (D)

1977  Star Wars: A New Hope (F) and 1980 The Empire Strikes Back (F)

1977  Annie Hall (C)*

raiders_of_the_lost_ark_ver1_xlg1978  National Lampoon’s Animal House (C)

1979  Apocalypse Now (D)

1979  Alien (F) and even better 1986 Aliens (F)

1980  Raging Bull (D)

1981  Raiders of the Lost Ark (A) and 1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (A)

1981  Chariots of Fire (D)*

1982  Blade Runner (T)

1982  Tootsie (C)

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1982  E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial (F)

1984  Amadeus (D)*

1984  Beverly Hills Cop (C)

1984  Ghostbusters (C)

1985 The Breakfast Club (D)

1985  Back to the Future (C)

1985  The Color Purple (D)

1986  Top Gun (A)

1986  Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (F)  The best of the highly influential franchise… so far. (J.J. Abrams could change that.)

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1986  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  (C)

1987  The Princess Bride (C)

1988  Rain Man (D)*

1989  Dead Poets Society (D)

1989  Field of Dreams (F)

1989  Do the Right Thing (D)

1989  Driving Miss Daisy (D)*

1990  Dances with Wolves (D)*

1990  Pretty Woman (D)

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1991  Terminator 2: Judgment Day (F)

1991  Beauty and the Beast (F)

1991  The Silence of the Lambs (D)*

1992  A Few Good Men (D)

1992  Unforgiven (A)*

1993  Groundhog Day (C)

1993  Jurassic Park (F)

1993  Schindler’s List (D)*

1994  Forrest Gump (D)*

Screenshot 2014-03-02 23.59.401994  Pulp Fiction (D)

1994  Shawshank Redemption (D)

1994  The Lion King (C)

1995  Braveheart (A)*

1995 The Usual Suspects (D)

1995  Toy Story (C) and the entire Toy Story trilogy.

1996  Jerry Maguire (D)

1996  Fargo (D)

1998  Saving Private Ryan (A)

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1996  Independence Day (T)

1997  Men in Black (C)

1997  Good Will Hunting (D)

1997  Titanic (D)*

1998  American History X  (D)

1999  American Beauty (D)*

1999  Fight Club (A)

1999  The Matrix (F)

1999  The Sixth Sense (T)

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2000  Gladiator (A)*

2000 Memento (D)

2001  Shrek (C) and the entire Shrek franchise.

2001  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (F) and the entire Harry Potter series.

2001 Serendipity (C)

2003 The Return of the King (F)* and the rest of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: 2001 The Fellowship of the Ring (F) and especially 2002 The Two Towers (F).

2003  Finding Nemo (C)

2003  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  (A) at least as part of the entire Pirates franchise.

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2004  Spider-Man 2 (F), the entire Spider-Man Trilogy and even the new franchise starting with 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man (F) series.

2004  The Passion of the Christ (D)

2004  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (F)

2008  The Dark Knight (F) and the entire Dark Knight trilogy is definitely going to make the DCI list.

 

Films on the Deeper Culture Impact ‘watch list’

I suspect many of these movies will prove to be DCI films, but it is still too early to tell. 

2005  Crash (D)*

2006  The Departed (D)*

2012  The Avengers (F) and the entire Marvel Avengers franchise, especially 2008 IronScreen shot 2013-02-24 at 12.58.13 PM
Man (F), 2013 Iron Man 3 (F), and 2011 Thor (F)

2007  No Country for Old Men (D)*

2007  Juno (D)

2008  Slumdog Millionaire (D)*

2009  The Hangover (C)

2009  Avatar (F)

2009  The Blind Side (D)

2010 Inception (F)

2011 The Help (D)

2012 Django Unchained (D)12YAS-Poster-Art

2012 Life of Pi (F)

2012 The Hunger Games (F), and and most likely the entire Hunger Games series.

2013 12 Years a Slave (D)*

2013 Frozen (F)

2013 American Hustle (D)

2013 Gravity (D)

2014 American Sniper (D)

2014 Selma (D)

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2014 The Imitation Game (D)

2014 Guardians of the Galaxy (F)

2015 Spotlight (D)*

2015 Inside Out (A)

2016 Zootopia (A)

2016 La La Land (M)

2016 Arrival (F)

* Indicates Academy Award Winner

 

What films did I miss?

The Joker Is Satan, and So Are We: René Girard and The Dark Knight, by Charles Bellinger, PhD

Part 2 in series: René Girard: The Greatest Christian Intellectual You Never Heard of

Christ is not a character in the movie, but he is present throughout, in the sense that his defeat of Satan on the cross, through nonviolent love, put Satan on display, thus making the revelatory insights of the movie possible.

By Charles K. Bellinger, PhD

The Dark Knight movie franchise broke box office records precisely because it is a powerful expression of theological ideas. I need to elaborate a bit on this apparently odd statement. Let’s list, in no particular order, some of the main themes of the second movie in the trilogy The Dark Knight (2008): The Joker’s main goal is not acquiring money, but sowing chaos and destruction; Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent are rivals for the affection of Rachel Dawes; the police force is filled with corruption; Batman’s exploits have produced copycats, imitators; the “law-abiding citizens” and the “criminals” are distinct groups of people . . . aren’t they? . . . or are they all in the same boat?; a symbol of “justice,” such as Harvey Dent, can be seduced to join “the dark side”; criminals often kill each other, taking greed to an irrational extreme.
These themes can be elucidated very effectively with reference to the writings of René Girard. If you are not familiar with Girard, I will provide a brief outline of his theory of culture. The theory begins with the concept of desire. Human beings have basic natural desires. If my stomach sends hunger signals to my brain, then I have a desire for food. But because human beings are highly social creatures, our basic natural desires very quickly become overlaid with complex patterns of social mediation. I may feel hungry, which is an internal, natural desire, but if I see a commercial for Burger King and decide to satisfy my hunger by eating a Whopper, then my desire has become socially mediated.

Borrowed Desires

“I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.” (Heath Ledger as Joker in Warner Brothers Pictures, ‘The Dark Knight,’ 2008)
Girard uses the phrase “mimetic desire” to describe this bedrock phenomenon of human psychology. We may think that our desires are internally generated, but most of the time we do not know what we should desire until we look around at others and see what they are desiring. We mime, mimic, imitate the desires of others, particularly those others who appear to us as models of successful living. The models strike us as having a greater fullness of being than we have; in order to be like them we must desire to possess the things that they possess.
There are many examples of mimetic desire. If two small children are in a room that has many toys in it, what will happen? One child will start playing with a particular toy and the other child will then want that toy also, and a tug-of-war will ensue. This will happen even if there is an identical or equivalent toy in the room . This is a perfect example of the phenomenon of mimetic desire, which is not predicated on scarcity; the scarcity of objects is not relevant because an artificial scarcity is created by the process of mimicking another person. When children grow into adults, mimetic desire does not fade away; it simply takes more sophisticated forms.
I have already referred to advertizing as a key shaper of socially mediated desires. In general, the strategy of advertisers is to present happy, beautiful, successful people who own or use a certain product. You should own the product also if you want to mimic their success in life. In many ways the stock market is a mimetic phenomenon, as is fashion. The concept of “fashion” is not limited only to clothing; it also includes lifestyle items such as iPods, cars, computers, and avid devotion to sports teams or NASCAR drivers.

Mimetic Rivalry

The phenomenon of the romantic triangle, two men fighting over a woman, is a common theme in literature, television, and movies. In his works of literary criticism, Girard traces the roots of romantic rivalry as it is unveiled in the works of key authors such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, Flaubert, and Dostoevsky.
Does the Joker really want the same thing as the mob bosses, or is he borrowing his desires from someone else? (Warner Brothers Pictures, 2008)
This concept of rivalry is the second major element of Girard’s theory of culture. If human beings are copying the desires of other human beings, the stage is set for envy, rivalry, conflict, and violence. If I am imitating someone else’s desire for an object, then by definition I am setting myself up as a rival and potential enemy of the other person. If mimetic desire is the bedrock of human social psychology, then human society is always a conflictual field of mutual antagonisms which can lead to generalized chaos.
If I imitate others then those others are always stumbling blocks for me, impeding my ability to get what I (and they) want. The phenomenon of the stumbling block is designated by a very precise term in the Greek language of the ancient world: skandalon. Mimetic desire and the rivalry to which it leads are inexhaustible sources of scandal, which Girard interprets as our inability to break free from the entangling webs of imitation and the violence to which it leads.

The Scapegoat Mechanism

“They need you right now. When they don’t, they’ll cast you out like a leper.” (Warner Bros., 2008)
How do societies prevent themselves from suffering a meltdown into generalized chaos, into a war of all against all? Girard answers this question by pointing to the phenomenon of scapegoating. If the members of a society can single out a victim, they can channel their violent emotions toward that victim and do away with him. This cathartic release of pent up violence serves to give the society a new sense of unanimity and purpose. Instead of hating each other, people can agree to hate a particular victim or perhaps a minority group or class within society.
It is easy to find examples that illustrate the scapegoat mechanism. In the Middle Ages in Europe , if the plague were to break out in a certain city, usually what would happen is that a rumor would be started that the plague was caused by the Jews poisoning the drinking water. This rumor would lead to a massacre of local Jews. The fact that the Jews were also dying of the plague and had been drinking from the same water sources as everyone else is irrelevant.
Scapegoating violence is irrational and subconscious. It is commonly noted by historians that those who were preaching in favor of the Crusades and whipping up public fervor for them, such as Pope Urban II, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Catherine of Siena, would commonly say to the people that European Christians should stop killing each other in petty internal wars. Instead, they should become united, march to the Holy Land , and slaughter the infidel Muslims. This is a clear example of how the scapegoat mechanism serves to unite people and channel their violence toward a scapegoated Other.

Twentieth-Century Scapegoating

Girard’s theory maintains that an individual who is lifted up as a hero today is likely to become the scapegoat tomorrow. But what society cannot admit to itself is that its need for scapegoats is itself immoral. (Warner Bros. 2008)
The lynching of blacks in the United States is another particularly stark example of the scapegoat mechanism at work. The ideology of slaveholding specifically taught that persons of African descent are subhuman and can therefore be killed with impunity to maintain what was claimed to be a superior white civilization. The killing of Jews by the Nazis is another immense example of scapegoating at work, as is the killing of so-called –counter-revolutionaries” in Stalinist Russia. In Japan in 1923, there was a major earthquake that killed thousands of people. False rumors began to circulate that persons of Korean descent living in Japan were taking advantage of the situation by looting, robbing, and raping. Vigilante groups of Japanese men began to massacre anyone they suspected of being Korean.
The similarity between this situation and the medieval plague is striking and undeniable. It also shows that the phenomenon that Girard is describing is not simply –Western.” He is unveiling the social psychology of human beings as such. Human culture is a lynch mob which has normalized and structured the process by which scapegoats are identified, vilified, and killed. The lynch mob always sees itself as innocent and the victim as a guilty transgressor who must be killed to restore “law and order” in the universe.

I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning: The Joker in The Dark Knight

Like Satan in John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost,’ the Joker is the most interesting character in ‘The Dark Knight’ and clearly a figurative version of Satan. (Warner Bros. 2008)
Girard’s theory of violence comes to a head in his discussion of Satan. He says that Satan is not a individual person but rather the entire complex process that we have just summarized. Satan is the seducer who alienates people from God and insinuates to them that they must long for something that they supposedly lack. They must seek out models of success and imitate them. Satan is also the one who “kicks it up a notch” into rivalry, conflict, and chaotic violence. And Satan is the whisperer behind the lynch mob, the voice demanding that One must be sacrificed for the Many. In this way, “law and order” will be restored.
Some scholars have commented, regarding John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost, that Satan is the most interesting character, much more so than Adam, Eve, the angels, or Christ. In a similar way, the Joker is clearly the most interesting character in The Dark Knight, and he is obviously a figurative version of Satan. His main purpose is to sow chaos, confusion, and destruction among human beings. He does this by stoking the flames of the skandalon — the intense fascination that human beings have with each other in the pursuit of their desires. There is the obvious romantic triangle of Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent, and Rachel Dawes; two men seeking the affection of one woman is one of the most common mimetic plots. The Joker says to Batman at one point: “Does Harvey know about you and his little bunny?” which throws Batman into a predictable jealous rage.
On a larger scale, there is the rivalry between the criminals and the “law abiding citizens,” who are all seeking money, mammon. In modern Western culture, which is highly secularized, money is the new god that people worship. The movie is saying that all people are greedy; the difference between the citizens and the criminals is that the latter take greed to an absurd extreme, killing each other off in the process. The Joker recognizes all of this and uses the fascination with money to create all kinds of temptations and conflicts, so that the police become just as corrupt as the criminals.

Echoes of Girard

‘Welcome to a world without rules.’ Such strong Girardian overtones it is hard to believe Nolan has never read Girard. (Warner Bros. 2008)
The Dark Knight is a movie that has so many resonances with Girard’s ideas that the question inevitably rises as to whether or not the film makers have read him. It may be that his ideas have filtered into the consciousness of the Hollywood intelligentsia. It may be that the comic book authors and the film makers are simply drawing on the same inspirations that Girard draws on: the Bible and great works of literature. The answer to this question is not germane to our discussion here, but it is an interesting sidebar.
The quotations from The Joker that I will present shortly have such strong Girardian resonances that it is hard to believe that the film makers have not read Girard. One can speculate that they knew Girard’s ideas would make the movie philosophically powerful in addition to being visually dazzling. The combination would be a box office hit because of the public’s mimetic desire (word of mouth patronage). The film makers, motivated by a desire to make millions of dollars, employ Girard’s ideas. Delicious irony, isn’t it?

Interrogation Room Revelations

The interrogation room scene in the middle of movie is its center, where the entire story is revealed under the blinding lights. This scene shows that The Joker is the most astute observer of human pyschology in the film. His insights into mimetic desire and the scapegoating activities of the “civilized” people reveal a transcendent perspective; precisely the sort of transcendent perspective that Girard claims is the fruit of biblical revelation. The Joker says to Batman: “They need you right now. When they don’t, they’ll cast you out like a leper. You see, their code , their morals , it’s a bad joke.”
“You have nothing to frighten me with, nothing to do with all your strength.” (Warner Bros. 2008)
Girard’s theory maintains that an individual who is lifted up as a hero today is likely to become the scapegoat tomorrow. The King who is obeyed by his loyal subjects today will have his head chopped off tomorrow. Society sees itself as moral , as being comprised of the good people who can judge the bad people. But what society cannot admit to itself is that its need for scapegoats is itself immoral. Society cannot recognize its hypocrisy. The Joker says that “When the chips are down, these civilized people, they’ll eat each other.” He also says “I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.” He is revealing that “law abiding society” is a mystification; human culture is a lynch mob riding the bucking bronco of chaotic violence.
By thinking that it is attacking Satan in the form of the scapegoat, society is actually acting according to the satanic principle. When The Joker says “the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules” he is speaking the voice of chaotic, Dionysian violence. But he also reveals in this scene that the “rules,” the laws and prohibitions that society invents to contain violence, are a sham. The police and the legal system think of themselves as stemming from a different spiritual source than the demonic criminals; but in reality they all flow out of the fountain of the complex, shapeshifting satanic event. The violence of the criminals and the brutality of the police, symbolized by Batman slamming the Joker’s head into the table, reveal that the ultimate basis of violence is reciprocity.

You Complete Me

“You Complete Me.” (Heath Ledger in Warner Bros. Pictures ‘The Dark Knight,’ 2008)
The enemies who attack each other come to resemble each other more and more until they are indistinguish-able. This is recognized implicitly in the film’s underlying question: “How can evil be struggled against without allowing evil to overcome the one who is struggling, turning him to the dark side?”
The Joker’s statement to Batman – “You complete me” –  is profound, perhaps more profound than the film makers realize. Like the phrase from the gospels, “It is finished,” it offers the perfect summary of the entire story. The Joker is saying that his role as the chaotic Satan is complemented by Batman’s role as the “law and order” Satan, whose good violence is supposedly casting out the other Satan’s bad violence. This is why The Joker can say with such confidence “You have nothing to frighten me with, nothing to do with all your strength.” He realizes that Batman is actually his ally in the satanic event. The Joker knows about satanic shapeshifting, Batman does not.
It is customary in movies to present the criminals as evil and the cops as good. But the radical implication of Girard’s theory is that evil is present in the structure of “law abiding society;” Satan is ultimately not a person but a complex process. Satan is at work in the actions of the criminal, but when the criminal is apprehended, tried, and retributively punished, society is acting as a lynch mob which is also secretly inspired by Satan. When this is seen, the rhetoric of “Justice” becomes empty, or worse than empty, it becomes the evil of hypocrisy. This is why I say that the film makers may have put into The Joker’s mouth a line that is more profound than they realize. To understand that Satan is a shapeshifter who can be in the criminal and in a defender of Justice, such as Harvey Dent or Batman, is to deconstruct the (good guys vs. bad guys) genre of the film.

A Christological Solution?

In the end Satan is not so much a person as a complex process overcome only by a Cross. (Warner Bros. 2008)
In contemporary political parlance, if the bad guys, the evildoers, and those who are carrying out the War on Evildoing are all fulfilling Satan’s agenda without realizing it, then the world is utterly dark. How can such a world ever change? “Who can deliver us from this body of death?”(Rom. 7:24) This is a question that can only have a christological answer, which is articulated in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” But while The Joker is clearly a Satan figure, it is my argument that Batman is at best an ambiguous Christ figure, in that he willingly accepts the role of scapegoat at the end of the movie. His willingness to use violence within the movie works against the notion that he is a genuine Christ figure.
Christ is not a character in the movie, but he is present throughout, in the sense that his defeat of Satan on the cross, through nonviolent love, put Satan on display, thus making the revelatory insights of the movie possible. This also is an idea which is articulated clearly by Girard. When The Joker says to Batman “I know the truth. There’s no going back. You’ve changed things forever … ” his words intimate that he is really addressing another conversation partner, the same one to whom Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor was speaking.
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Next post in series: Echoes of René Girard in the Films of Martin Scorsese: Scapegoats and Redemption on ‘Shutter Island’

100+ All-Time Top ‘Deep Culture Impact’ Films (2014)

Part four in 2014 Oscar Week Series: Twelve Years a Slave to History: Why Academy Voters Often Miss the Real Best Picture.

Two decades of using film in the classroom has resulted in quite a few surprises in the stories with the deepest cultural impact on this generation.

by Gary David Stratton, PhD • Senior Editor

The list below is in no way infallible, but it sure could get a good Oscar weekend conversation going.  (See Deep Culture Impact Films to view my evolving DCI criteria.)

Key: Action/Adventure/Western • Comedy/Musical/Animated • Drama • Fantasy/SciFi • Thriller/Horror

* Indicates Academy Award Winner  – @Indicates NEW for 2014

king-kong-poster1933  King Kong (F)

1936  Modern Times (C)

1937  Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (C)

1939  The Wizard of Oz (F)

1939  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (D)

1939  Gone with the Wind (D)*

1940 Fantasia (C)

1941  Citizen Kane (D)

1943  Casablanca (D)*

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1946  It’s a Wonderful Life (D)

1951  The African Queen (D)

1952  Singin’ In The Rain (C)

1954  Rear Window (T)

1954  On the Waterfront (D)*

1955  Rebel Without a Cause (D)

1954  Seven Samurai (D)@

1956  The Ten Commandments (D)

1957  The Bridge on the River Kwai (D)*

20121210051712!Sleeping_beauty_disney1957  12 Angry Men (D)

1958  Vertigo (T)

1959  Ben-Hur (A)*

1959  Sleeping Beauty (C)

1960  Psycho (T)

1961  West Side Story (C)*

1961  101 Dalmatians (C)

1961  Breakfast at Tiffany’s (D)

1962  To Kill a Mockingbird (D)

Screen shot 2013-02-23 at 6.03.20 PM

1962  Lawrence of Arabia (D)*

1964  Mary Poppins (C)

1964  My Fair Lady (C)*

1964  Dr. Strangelove (C)

1964 Goldfinger (A) and the entire Bond franchise, especially 1965 Thunderball (A) and 2006  Casino Royale (A)

1965  The Sound of Music (C)*

1966 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (D)

1967  Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (D)

1967  The Graduate (D)

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1967  The Jungle Book (C)

1968  2001: A Space Odyssey (F)

1969  In the Heat of the Night (D)*

1969  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (A)

1971  Fiddler on the Roof (C)

1972  The Godfather (D)* and 1974 The Godfather 2 (D)*

1973  The Exorcist (T)

1973  The Sting (C)*

1973  American Graffiti (D)

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1974  Chinatown (D)*

1975  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (D)*

1975  Jaws (F)

1976  Monty Python and the Holy Grail (C)

1976  Rocky (D)*

1976  Taxi Driver (D)

1977  Star Wars: A New Hope (F) and 1980 The Empire Strikes Back (F)

1977  Annie Hall (C)*

raiders_of_the_lost_ark_ver1_xlg1978  National Lampoon’s Animal House (C)

1979  Apocalypse Now (D)

1979  Alien (F) and 1986 Aliens (F)

1980  Raging Bull (D)

1981  Raiders of the Lost Ark (A) and 1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (A)

1981  Chariots of Fire (D)*

1982  Blade Runner (T)

1982  Tootsie (C)

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1982  E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial (F)

1984  Amadeus (D)*

1984  Beverly Hills Cop (C)

1984  Ghostbusters (C)

1985 The Breakfast Club (D)@

1985  Back to the Future (C)

1985  The Color Purple (D)

1986  Top Gun (A)

1986  Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (F)  The best of the highly influential franchise… so far. (J.J. Abrams could change that.)

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1986  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  (C)

1987  The Princess Bride (C)

1988  Rain Man (D)*

1989  Dead Poets Society (D)

1989  Field of Dreams (F)

1989  Do the Right Thing (D)

1989  Driving Miss Daisy (D)*

1990  Dances with Wolves (D)*

1990  Pretty Woman (D)

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1991  Terminator 2: Judgment Day (F)

1991  Beauty and the Beast (F)

1991  The Silence of the Lambs (D)*

1992  A Few Good Men (D)

1992  Unforgiven (A)*

1993  Groundhog Day (C)

1993  Jurassic Park (F)

1993  Schindler’s List (D)*

1994  Forrest Gump (D)*

Screenshot 2014-03-02 23.59.401994  Pulp Fiction (D)

1994  Shawshank Redemption (D)

1994  The Lion King (C)

1995  Braveheart (A)*

1995 The Usual Suspects (D) @

1995  Toy Story (C) and the entire Toy Story trilogy.

1996  Jerry Maguire (D)

1996  Fargo (D)

1998  Saving Private Ryan (A)

AmericanBeauty

1996  Independence Day (T)

1997  Men in Black (C)

1997  Good Will Hunting (D)

1997  Titanic (D)*

1998  American History X  (D)

1999  American Beauty (D)*

1999  Fight Club (A)

1999  The Matrix (F)

1999  The Sixth Sense (T)

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2000  Gladiator (A)*

2000 Memento (D)@

2001  Shrek (C) and the entire Shrek franchise.

2001  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (F) and the entire Harry Potter series.

2001 Serendipity (C)@

2003 The Return of the King (F)* and the rest of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: 2001 The Fellowship of the Ring (F) and 2002 The Two Towers (F). (Okay, it’s only been 11 years since the last LOTR film, but I think it’s safe to say that Peter Jackson’s majestic adaptation of Tolkien’s classic will hit a very high DCI mark. )

 

Films on the Deeper Culture Impact ‘watch list’

Screen shot 2013-02-24 at 12.58.13 PMI suspect many of these films will grow into DCI films, but it is still too early to tell. After all, we have to wait at least twelve years!

2002  My Big Fat Greek Wedding (C)

2002  Spider-Man (F), the entire Spider-Man Trilogy and even the new franchise starting with 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man (F) series.

2003  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  (A) at least as part of the entire Pirates franchise.

2003  Finding Nemo (C)

2004  The Passion of the Christ (D)

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2004  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (F)2005  Crash (D)*

2005  The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (F) (The weakness of the other completed films in the franchise stands in the way of Chronicles (the movie) having the same high DCI as Lewis’s books.)

2006  The Departed (D)*

2007  No Country for Old Men (D)*

2007  Juno (D) (If the Juno Effect has cultural staying power this could end up being one of the top DCI films of all time.)

2008  The Dark Knight (F) and the entire Dark Knight trilogy is definitely going to make the DCI list.

Inception poster

2008  Slumdog Millionaire (D)*

2009  The Hangover (C)

2009  Avatar (F)

2009  The Blind Side (D)

2010 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (C)@

2010  Inception (F)

2011  The Help (D)

2011 The Intouchables (D)@

2012  The Avengers (F) and the entire Marvel Avengers franchise, especially 2008 Iron Man (F), 2013 Iron Man 3 (F), 2011 Thor (F), and 2013 Thor II: The Dark World (F)

2012  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and 2013 The Desolation of Smaug (F)

2012 Django Unchained (D)

2012 Life of Pi (F)

2012 The Hunger Games (F), 2013 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and most likely the entire series.

 

 

All-Time ‘Deep Culture Impact’ Films

Part of 13 series: Hollywood & Higher Education: Teaching Worldview Thru Academy Award-winning Film

I love The King’s Speech, and would vote for it as Best Picture (if  had a vote), but based upon what I’ve learned from past films, I suspect that another film will have greater ‘deep culture’ impact upon the next generation.

by Gary David Stratton, Senior Editor

Nearly two decades of using film to teach worldview to undergraduate students has resulted in a few surprises in which films have had the deepest cultural impact on a generation. (See, High Culture, Pop Culture, What about ‘Deep Culture’?)The list below is in no way infallible, but it sure could get a good conversation going.

Key: A-Action/Adventure, C-Comedy, D-Drama, F-Fantasy/Science Fiction, T-Thriller/Horror, *-Academy Award Winner

1939  The Wizard of Oz (F)

1943  Casablanca(D)*

1946  It’s a Wonderful Life(D)

1954Rear Window (T)

1959  Ben-Hur(D)*

1968  2001: A Space Odyssey (F),

1971 Fiddler on the Roof(M)

1972  The Godfather(D)* and The Godfather 2 (D)*

1973The Exorcist (T)

1973  The Sting (C)*[1]

1974  Chinatown (D)*

1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (D)*

1975  Jaws(D)

1976Rocky(D)

1977  Star Wars: A New Hope (F) & 1980  The Empire Strikes Back(F)

1979  Alien (T), and 1986 Aliens(T)

1981  Raiders of the Lost Ark(F) and 1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (F)

1981  Chariots of Fire(D)*

1982  E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial(F)

1982  The Godfather(D)*, and The Godfather 2 (D)*

1984  Amadeus (D)*

1984  Ghostbusters(C)

1986  Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (F) The of the best highly influential franchise… so far.

1987  The Princess Bride(C)

1989  Dead Poets Society(D)

1990  Dances with Wolves (D)*

1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (F)

1991  Beauty and the Beast (F)

1993  Groundhog Day(C)

1993  Schindler’s List (D)

1994  Forrest Gump(D)*

1994  Pulp Fiction (T)

1994  Shawshank Redemption(D)

1994  The Lion King(F)

1995  Braveheart (A)*

1997  Good Will Hunting (D)

1997  Titanic (D)*

1998  Saving Private Ryan(A)

1999  American Beauty (D)*

1999  Fight Club (A)

1999  The Matrix(F)

1999  The Sixth Sense(T)

2000  Gladiator(A)*

2001  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring(F), 2002  The Two Towers (F), and 2003  The Return of the King (F)*

2002  Spider-Man(F)

2004  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(F)

2005  Crash (D)*

2008  Slumdog Millionaire(D)*

2008  The Dark Knight (F) and the entire Batman franchise [3]

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And… drum roll please… my pick (educated guess) for which of the TEN films nominated for 2011 Best Picture will have the greatest long-term deep culture impact…

2010  Inception (F)

I love The King’s Speech, and would vote for it as Best Picture (if  had a vote), but based upon what I’ve learned from past films, I suspect that Inception’s imaginative story and evocative images have the best chance of actually shaping “the stories we live by” as a culture.

What films did I miss?

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Next Post in Series: The Blind Side Leading the Blind: Better Faith-Based Filmmaking through Better Stories

 


[1] Probably should be a double mention for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid(1969), since I’m not sure The Sting would have won if voters hadn’t realized they blew it in the first Newman/Redford movie.

[2] Other than perhaps the J.J. Abrams’ updates.

[3] Honorable Mentions: Back to the Future (1985), Field of Dreams (1989), Pretty Woman (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), Jerry Maguire (1996), Independence Day (1996), A Knight’s Tale (2001), The Departed (2006)*, Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Juno(2007), Up in the Air (2009), Avatar(2009), Toy Story 3 and the entire Toy Story trilogy.