It is no secret that movies play an incredibly important role in the lives of teenagers. ¶ It is astounding how much of the interaction among teens is through the filter of movies they have seen. Films are constantly referenced in conversation and certain movies have become staples in teenage culture. This is only aided by the fact that now more films are being made than ever before. ¶ However, it is still important to remember that the best films are not necessarily just the ones being released today. A look into movies of even just the past four decades will reveal a plethora of films worth exploring, and we live in a time in which they have never been easier to access. ¶ Many teenagers may be of the opinion that they will be unable to get as invested in and enjoy older, classic films as they do more modern releases. However, this opinion may cause some to miss out on some truly amazing films. ¶ By definition, classic films have the rare ability to rise above the period in which they were made. They derive their classic status from the entertainment value they possess and the timeless messages that they contain. These films are important for young people to see, if only from the role that they have taken in popular culture today. So, while this is just a mere glimpse into the abundance of classic cinema, here are 10 films that teens can start with.
This utterly hilarious and ridiculous spoof on ’80s disaster films follows a commercial passenger plane as it loses both its pilots due to a mysterious illness. Suddenly the only person able to save the plane is the one man who has sworn to never fly again. With an all-star cast, including even professional basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, this comedy bursts with witty humor and hilariously classic lines, and will have audiences doubling over with laughter again and again.
"Alien" follows the interplanetary crew of The Nostromo as they divert from their course back to Earth in response to a distress signal, only to find themselves face to face with a mysterious and deadly alien life form. The film is totally gripping from start to finish and holds up today as one of the best horror/science fiction films to date. The movie is directed by Ridley Scott, whom teens should know from his recent films such as "The Martian," and stars Sigourney Weaver.
"Back to the Future" (1985)
"Back to the Future," now a staple of modern pop culture, stars Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a rock and roll-loving teenager who spends his time with local scientist Doc Brown. When Brown invents the secret to time travel, Marty is accidentally sent 30 years into the past, where he is forced to interact with his then-teenage parents. The movie addresses the idea of what it would be like to go back and change the past for the better. A film so loved it spawned two sequels, this movie never seems to lose its charm, regardless of times viewed.
"ET: The Extra Terrestrial" (1982)
Legendary director Steven Spielberg’s hit "ET: The Extra Terrestrial" tells the heartwarming tale of a young boy named Elliot who befriends a mysterious alien creature whom he finds in his backyard. Dealing with the power of love and friendship between worlds, this movie features some hard-hitting emotional moments and some genuinely hilarious ones, as well. The film also includes one of the most famous lines in movie history: "ET phone home."
"Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" (1986)
What high school student hasn’t dreamed of skipping school for the day? It’s fair to say that a number of them have actually done it once or twice. However, when Ferris Bueller decides to take the day off, he does so in style. Grabbing his anxious buddy, his girlfriend, and the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, he heads out for a day of adventure in the bustling city of Chicago. Sure to be an instant hit among teenagers, this wildly entertaining movie never ceases to put a smile on your face.
"Forrest Gump" (1994)
In what is perhaps Tom Hank’s best-known film, he plays Forrest Gump, a simple-minded Alabama man who ends up living a life of grand proportions while making his way through significant events in U.S. history, such as the JFK assassination, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. In a story of innocence and fierce friendship, Forrest makes his way through life from one incredible moment to the next, all the while chasing after his childhood friend and lifelong love, Jenny, played by Robin Wright. While the simple-minded Forrest is always learning things from others, the film asks the question, "what can we learn from Forrest?"
"The Godfather" (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s classic crime epic " The Godfather" has become a cultural icon and is widely considered to be among the greatest in film history. In the film, the aging "Don" Vito Corleone heads the infamous Corleone crime family and finds himself needing to pass down the leadership to his reluctant son, who is then forced to re-enter the shadowy world that he swore he would not be a part of. The movie features stellar acting from both Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, and delivers an incredible epic of family, violence and revenge that teens are sure to enjoy.
"The Godfather: Part II" (1974)
Conventional wisdom tells us that, generally, movie sequels are never as good as the originals. However, "The Godfather: Part II" proves the exception. Every bit as classic as its predecessor, the film tracks Michael Corleone as he takes full command of the Corleone crime family and asserts himself as the new godfather. At the same time, the film goes back in time to reveal the backstory of Vito Corleone and his dramatic rise into power. A true understanding of the Corleone saga would be incomplete without a viewing of this spectacular film.
This lighthearted crime drama follows Martin Bishop, played by Robert Redford, who heads a team of computer hackers hired by banks to test their security systems. When Marty and his team stumble across a machine with the potential to break any code in existence, they suddenly become the targets of both the mafia and the U.S. government. This film is not without its dramatic elements, yet it never takes itself too seriously.
"The Sting" (1973)
A thoroughly enjoyable story of theft and deception, "The Sting" follows two con men, played by Robert Redford and Paul Newman, who team up to take revenge on a wealthy mafia member in the form of an extremely ambitious con. Taking the similar form of many heist flicks, this film features a highly intricate plot that slowly reveals the plan over the course of the movie, keeping the audience in suspense. The stellar acting from both Redford and Newman and the film’s highly satisfying conclusion make this movie succeed in every regard.
Zachary Wadkins-Daub is a junior at City Honors School.