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Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thread!

Old 05-04-11, 10:34 AM
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Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thread!

With little less than a month to go, it seemed time to begin discussion of the forthcoming second annual Historical Appreciation Challenge that will run in June. You may recall I was supposed to have hosted this last year but then had to bail and wasn't even really a participant. I've been graciously invited to return and give it another go and I hope I don't screw it up. But that's where this discussion thread comes into play!

You may find revisiting last year's discussion thread helpful. Maybe you're new to this challenge--or possibly new to the challenges in general. That's fine, too; we're always happy to have new blood.

In a nutshell, here are the basics:
  • This challenge will run from 12:01 AM 1 June until 11:59 PM 30 June.
  • Movies and TV content specifically about a historical figure, event or period are eligible.
  • 2 hours TV content (based upon broadcast, not run, time) = 1 entry

The initial premise was to combine War and Western challenges, and those are the primary focuses here. You're welcome to expand to include biographies, documentaries, even "costume dramas."

Lastly, many of the films at the heart of this challenge have considerable run times, so even though there's always a sort of de facto goal of hitting 100 movies watched, it's not really expected here. We'd much rather you take this opportunity to finally see Lawrence of Arabia than to squeeze in two shorter films.
Old 05-04-11, 11:47 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Forgot about this challenge. It'll be a run of western and noir films for me, or is noir not historical enough?
Old 05-04-11, 01:47 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Looking forward to hitting the Westerns I missed during the B-Film challenge, and adding my SPR BD and others. I'd think noir would qualify as long as it was period when it was made. (So a noir set in the '30s that was made in the '30s wouldn't work.) I also watched a lot of Mad Men last time.
Old 05-04-11, 02:44 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Looking forward to breaking open the Man with No Name Trilogy that I bought for the B Movie challenge and never got around to watching.

BTW, do pirate films count as historical for this challenge?
Old 05-04-11, 02:45 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by Mister Peepers View Post
Forgot about this challenge. It'll be a run of western and noir films for me, or is noir not historical enough?
Good question about noirs. I'm not terribly versed in them, so I've spent some time reading up on them. Here are my initial thoughts. I'll be happy to take revisions under advisement.

Film noir is not a genre so much as a style. There are noirs about various subjects and in various settings. So I would say that noirs about historically pertinent subjects and/or set against historically pertinent events, places and times, would be appropriate. It's hard to say definitively that a film would be appropriate or not simply by virtue of being noir.

I would suggest--and this goes for any questions--that you ask about a specific film in this thread and see what feedback you get from others who have seen it. If you don't get anything helpful, I would say if you feel that you have a sufficient reason to believe that it's an appropriate selection then go ahead and watch it. If it turns out not to really fit the nature of this challenge, go ahead and share those thoughts with us.

My personal policy as a participant is that if I have reason to believe something is eligible for a challenge, I watch it and then find out that it doesn't really fit, I go ahead and count it on my list--my logic being that I wouldn't have watched it had it not been for the challenge. Then, go into the discussion thread and draw attention to the fact that the title in question isn't an appropriate selection.
Old 05-04-11, 06:22 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by shadokitty View Post
BTW, do pirate films count as historical for this challenge?
I would think that they count. I personally wouldn't count any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies because of the high fantasy content but would probably include something like Cutthroat Island. I would certainly include the classic swashbucklers like Captain Blood or The Sea Hawk. Maybe being in black and white makes them seem more historically valid.

In a similar vein, I'm wondering about samurai films and period kung fu movies. For some reason I favor the first but I'm not sure about the second. Maybe because the samurai film seems to have played a role in Japan similar to the western in this country while so many of the period kung fu movies almost seem to be about folks with super powers. But they are set in the past. I'm just wondering what everyone else thinks.

I'm probably going to do a week or so of war movies and then the rest of the month westerns since that worked well for me last year but swashbucklers and or samurais would provide a welcome change of pace.
Old 05-04-11, 08:22 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by omike View Post
I would think that they count. I personally wouldn't count any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies because of the high fantasy content but would probably include something like Cutthroat Island. I would certainly include the classic swashbucklers like Captain Blood or The Sea Hawk. Maybe being in black and white makes them seem more historically valid.
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies really are too fantastic for the tone of this challenge, I think. "Average" pirate movies would be fine.

In a similar vein, I'm wondering about samurai films and period kung fu movies. For some reason I favor the first but I'm not sure about the second. Maybe because the samurai film seems to have played a role in Japan similar to the western in this country while so many of the period kung fu movies almost seem to be about folks with super powers. But they are set in the past. I'm just wondering what everyone else thinks.
I'm no kung fu expert, so I'll repeat my thoughts about borderline choices: if you know ahead of time that a movie relies on the supernatural, or if it feels like something that would have been more appropriate for the recently completed Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge--or the forthcoming Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge--then pass. If you're in doubt, ask and see what feedback you get. If you've got no reason to disqualify a specific movie, go ahead.
Old 05-04-11, 09:10 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

My four cents:

I'm assuming that movies based on historical novels are eligible. The characters are fictional but set in highly specific historical periods. I'm thinking of movies like FOREVER AMBER (1947) and THE FOXES OF HARROW (1947), both based on best-selling novels of the time. But a more recent example would be MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (2003). And, in-between, stuff like MANDINGO (1975) and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993).

Many samurai and ninja movies include actual historical figures in the action: Nobunaga Oda, Hattori Hanzo, Musashi Miyamoto, Ieyasu Tokugawa, etc. Sonny Chiba did a bunch of karate movies about actual Japanese karate experts from earlier in the 20th century (KARATE FOR LIFE, KARATE BULLFIGHTER, etc.). Those should all be eligible.

Many kung fu movies use actual historical figures like Wong Fei Hung, Fong Sai Yuk, Hung Si Kwan, San Te (the monk hero of 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN) and the guy who Jet Li played in FEARLESS. Movies about Shaolin Temple are usually based on one of several historical incidents that took place there. (Think multiple versions of THE ALAMO.) These should all be eligible also.

Many kung fu movies, on the other hand, are ahistorical, set in generic villages with everyone wearing generic kung fu outfits not associated with any specific period. Those are trickier and harder to justify.

Film noir: Very few deal with actual historical subjects. THE BLACK BOOK (aka REIGN OF TERROR, 1948) is about the French Revolution. There were a couple about Jack the Ripper that are horror/noir hybrids, e.g. THE LODGER (1944). But I think it would be too much of a stretch to include OUT OF THE PAST, CRISS CROSS, THE KILLERS, D.O.A., etc.

Now, I have a question:

What about World War II combat movies made during the war? They weren't historical films then, but they certainly are now. I'm thinking of films like THE FLYING TIGERS, WAKE ISLAND, AIR FORCE, ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC, SAHARA, BATAAN, GUNG HO, GUADALCANAL DIARY, BACK TO BATAAN, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, OBJECTIVE BURMA, A WALK IN THE SUN, etc. Given that they present us with a look at how the war was waged with an immediacy that later combat movies didn't have, they have extraordinary historical value and should be included.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 05-04-11 at 09:17 PM.
Old 05-04-11, 09:23 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
My four cents:

I'm assuming that movies based on historical novels are eligible. The characters are fictional but set in highly specific historical periods. I'm thinking of movies like FOREVER AMBER (1947) and THE FOXES OF HARROW (1947), both based on best-selling novels of the time. But a more recent example would be MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (2003). And, in-between, stuff like MANDINGO (1975) and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993).
Sounds good to me.

Many samurai and ninja movies include actual historical figures in the action: Nobunaga Oda, Hattori Hanzo, Musashi Miyamoto, Ieyasu Tokugawa, etc. Those should be eligible.
In principle, this sounds fine but I do want to again distinguish between a film that makes a reasonable effort to depict actual people/events/settings and one that merely bases one or more elements loosely on such things.

For instance, we wouldn't count Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay on the basis that it includes a caricature of President Bush and is set against the backdrop of the War on Terror (assuming, of course, that the film wasn't already ineligible because it's about contemporary issues).

Film noir: Very few deal with actual historical subjects. THE BLACK BOOK (aka REIGN OF TERROR, 1948) is about the French Revolution. There were a couple about Jack the Ripper that are horror/noir hybrids, e.g. THE LODGER (1944). But I think it would be too much of a stretch to include OUT OF THE PAST, CRISS CROSS, THE KILLERS, D.O.A., etc.
Haven't seen The Black Book, but the French Revolution is my favorite historical subject so I'll have to see if I can find a copy of that in time for the challenge. Otherwise, your remarks seem largely in keeping with mine that it's the specific content of a noir that would be the determining factor, rather than a general in/out verdict on all noirs.

What about World War II combat movies made during the war? They weren't historical films then, but they certainly are now. I'm thinking of films like THE FLYING TIGERS, WAKE ISLAND, AIR FORCE, ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC, SAHARA, BATAAN, GUNG HO, GUADALCANAL DIARY, BACK TO BATAAN, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, OBJECTIVE BURMA, A WALK IN THE SUN, etc. Given that they present us with a look at how the war was waged with an immediacy that later combat movies didn't have, they have extraordinary historical value and should be included.
I remember this was a point of debate last year, but I can't recall what the group ultimately decided. My personal inclination is to say yes, for two reasons. Firstly, those films were made in part with an eye toward crafting public perception of historical events. The short-term was to make audiences feel good about the war effort, but I'm sure some of the filmmakers were thinking about how their works would be viewed by later generations as a record of their era. Secondly, one could make a convincing argument that those films have become primary sources even though they weren't necessarily intended to be at the time.
Old 05-04-11, 09:52 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Just to add to my previous thoughts on noir: L.A. Confidential would seem to qualify (made in the '90s, set in the '40s), while something made in the '40s and not intentionally set in a different period (so for it, present day) would not.

On the other hand, I may be contradicting myself when I say that war-centered films made during the war (Casablanca came to mind) would seem to qualify because they're depicting a certain historical event, even if it was contemporary at the time.
Old 05-05-11, 08:07 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by omike View Post
In a similar vein, I'm wondering about samurai films and period kung fu movies. For some reason I favor the first but I'm not sure about the second. Maybe because the samurai film seems to have played a role in Japan similar to the western in this country while so many of the period kung fu movies almost seem to be about folks with super powers. But they are set in the past. I'm just wondering what everyone else thinks.
I view kung fu films and samurai films as being exact equivalents to westerns. Kwan Tak-hing played Wong Fei Hung about 99 times between 1949 and and 1974. I've read that Sek Kin played the villain in each movie. I haven't seen any of them yet, just the two movies in which Kwan reprised the role with younger co-stars, Magnificent Butcher and Dreadnaught. It occurred to me that this seemed to fit the model of the Hollywood western, and from the Wikipedia bio of Kwan Tak-hing that seems about right. In the 1990s, there was a trend toward more supernatural and fantastic stories in kung fu movies, which probably began with Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain in 1983. There seems to be a revival of interest in historically based, more realistic kung fu films in recent years, although, conversely, there seem to be more supernaturally based samurai films in the last decade or so.

I'm planning on watching several Chinese opera films during this challenge, and have just recently started considering a couple of early Jackie Chan movies that I think are probably period stories.
Old 05-05-11, 08:18 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

I'm not watching many films this year, but have a goal to get through 53 seasons of TV content. Haven't looked through and picked them out yet, but am looking forward to watching at least 5 seasons of 'historical' content next month.

Maybe I'll finally open up that M*A*S*H boxset.
Old 05-05-11, 08:54 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by ororama View Post
I view kung fu films and samurai films as being exact equivalents to westerns.
A good point. The only thing that concerns me is that kung fu movies are a staple of the Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge. Yes, Westerns are also eligible there, but aren't nearly as emphasized. At some point maybe we should refine where those specific genres are most appropriate.
Old 05-05-11, 08:55 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Thanks for clearing that up about my pirate question. I in fact own Cutthroat Island and will likely use that and will probably take the chance to watch the Encore Western channel a lot during the challenge. I may also see what Netflix has along the lines of old pirate movies like Sea Hawk, or Treasure Island.
Old 05-05-11, 11:32 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by MinLShaw View Post
In principle, this sounds fine but I do want to again distinguish between a film that makes a reasonable effort to depict actual people/events/settings and one that merely bases one or more elements loosely on such things.
Yeah, I see your point. The problem with a lot of kung fu films dealing with historical figures is that they're often just routine kung fu films with historical figures plopped in. I can't imagine that Jet Li's THE LEGEND OF FONG SAI YUK is anything but complete fiction. To be honest, I know way more about Japanese history than I do about Chinese history, so I think I can be a pretty good judge of which samurai and ninja films work for this challenge and which don't. But when it comes to Shaolin films, it's a little harder. I once tried researching the history of Shaolin Temple via English-language sources at a research library and came up with very little.

Wong Fei Hung is the protagonist of the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series of films by Tsui Hark, but I couldn't tell you how factual any of them are. Sun Yat-Sen is a key character in Part 2, so I'm thinking that one gets a little more cachet and I'd lean toward advocating its eligibility. But then I'm still not that sure how much of it has any basis in fact.
Old 05-05-11, 01:37 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

First thanks to everyone who commented on the samurai/kung fu issue. Lots to think about since everyone made good points. The movies I had in mind when I asked the question were any of Kurasawa's black and white samurai films and something like The Kid With the Golden Arm from the Shaw Brothers. The latter is about gold sent for famine relief which is the target of a bandit gang. This leads to lots of colorful martial arts action. So its a pretty generic situation and I'm still not sure I'd count it for this challenge. I would like opinions on whether films from The Sleepy Eyes of Death or the five movie Miyamoto Mushashi series, both from AnimEigo, would count (Any thoughts Ash Ketchum?).

Originally Posted by MinLShaw View Post
I remember this was a point of debate last year, but I can't recall what the group ultimately decided. My personal inclination is to say yes, for two reasons. Firstly, those films were made in part with an eye toward crafting public perception of historical events. The short-term was to make audiences feel good about the war effort, but I'm sure some of the filmmakers were thinking about how their works would be viewed by later generations as a record of their era. Secondly, one could make a convincing argument that those films have become primary sources even though they weren't necessarily intended to be at the time.
World War 2 movies made during the war were counted last year for the reasons you stated. They were an exception to the general guideline that for a movie to count it had to be about a time period prior to the year the movie was made. If I recall war movies and westerns were given kind of special status since the combination of those two genres was the start of what became the historical challenge so that even more generic films were acceptable. At least that's how I remember interpreting things.
Old 05-05-11, 02:04 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by shadokitty View Post
Thanks for clearing that up about my pirate question. I in fact own Cutthroat Island and will likely use that and will probably take the chance to watch the Encore Western channel a lot during the challenge. I may also see what Netflix has along the lines of old pirate movies like Sea Hawk, or Treasure Island.
A lot of pirate movies were either about actual historical pirates, e.g. THE BLACK SWAN (1942, about Henry Morgan), BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE (1952), MORGAN THE PIRATE (1961) or fictionalized versions of them, e.g. CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE SEA HAWK, THE SPANISH MAIN, CAPTAIN PIRATE, AGAINST ALL FLAGS, THE PIRATES OF TORTUGA. ANNE OF THE INDIES (1951), a fictionalized version of female pirate Anne Bonney, is worth seeking out. I remember liking pretty much all of these. THE BLACK SWAN is highly recommended for its Technicolor photography. I believe it was the first pirate movie in 3-strip Technicolor. The silent THE BLACK PIRATE, 1926, with Douglas Fairbanks Sr., was in 2-strip Technicolor and it's now out on Blu-ray. Not a great movie, but worth seeing for the color.
Old 05-05-11, 05:44 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by omike View Post
World War 2 movies made during the war were counted last year for the reasons you stated. They were an exception to the general guideline that for a movie to count it had to be about a time period prior to the year the movie was made. If I recall war movies and westerns were given kind of special status since the combination of those two genres was the start of what became the historical challenge so that even more generic films were acceptable. At least that's how I remember interpreting things.
I thought any contemporaneous war film was allowed. I had Five Graves to Cairo (1943) on my list, but I also counted The Green Berets (1968) and The Steel Helmet (1951).
Old 05-05-11, 06:47 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by shadokitty View Post
Thanks for clearing that up about my pirate question. I in fact own Cutthroat Island and will likely use that and will probably take the chance to watch the Encore Western channel a lot during the challenge. I may also see what Netflix has along the lines of old pirate movies like Sea Hawk, or Treasure Island.
I have a lot of Errol Flynn that I'd love to finally watch: The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, They Died with Their Boots On. But what about Robin Hood? Definitely period, debatable historical.
Old 05-05-11, 06:53 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by Dimension X View Post
I thought any contemporaneous war film was allowed. I had Five Graves to Cairo (1943) on my list, but I also counted The Green Berets (1968) and The Steel Helmet (1951).
Like I said, I had to bail on this challenge during the discussion period last year, but I remember it being determined that any war film was fine since this challenge originated from discussion of a War Challenge. So, yeah, any war film is fine regardless of when it was made or set (so long as it's not a science-fiction based premise, obviously).

At some point I need to begin work on the checklist for this challenge. My plan is to begin with the checklist caligulathegod worked up for last year, and I'm fairly lazy so I don't plan on reinventing the wheel. But I am open to tweaking it if anyone has any feedback on things they think they'd rather drop or add. I know Ash Ketchum had scores of ideas for the checklist last year, and I'll revisit those because I remember feeling there were some terrific suggestions. Let me know what you think.
Old 05-05-11, 06:58 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I have a lot of Errol Flynn that I'd love to finally watch: The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, They Died with Their Boots On. But what about Robin Hood? Definitely period, debatable historical.
Oh, any Robin Hood movie is fine. He's a folk figure.
Old 05-05-11, 07:50 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by MinLShaw View Post
Oh, any Robin Hood movie is fine. He's a folk figure.
I've heard nothing but awesomeness about the Flynn BD
Old 05-05-11, 09:11 PM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I've heard nothing but awesomeness about the Flynn BD
I blind-bought that BD a couple months ago and immediately fell in love with it. I highly recommend that you watch the "Night at the Movies" before the film. I found that really added to the experience. Also, there's a short film, Cruise of the Zaca that would be eligible for this challenge. There was an oceanographic expedition conducted using Errol Flynn's schooner, the Zaca, and Flynn filmed it. It's pretty neat; a sort of early Discovery Channel program. Earth-shattering? No. But worthwhile, I felt, and pretty much any documentary is, by design, eligible for this challenge so while you've got the disc loaded there's really no greater impetus to give it a look.

Also, I've thought about the Robin Hood inclusion some, and I think I'm fine with that even covering Men in Tights and Disney's animated version. I see there's a danger of this being a slippery slope, but they're fairly harmless diversions and if anyone wants to gorge on Robin Hood I'd be fine with allowing these two indulgences.

That's not a final ruling, of course, and I'm open to persuasion if anyone feels those allowances go too far.
Old 05-06-11, 03:03 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by MinLShaw View Post
A good point. The only thing that concerns me is that kung fu movies are a staple of the Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge. Yes, Westerns are also eligible there, but aren't nearly as emphasized. At some point maybe we should refine where those specific genres are most appropriate.
My personal point of view regarding the Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge is that its definitions are too broad, mainly because of numerous safe actors/directors/sub-genres, etc., which flow from inclusions in the checklist. Kung fu movies come into the Drive-In Challenge because of the popularity of badly dubbed movies from this genre which were shown in venues appropriate to the challenge. I watch Hong Kong movies in the original language with subtitles (when necessary).

I'm planning on watching Dream of the Red Chamber again during this challenge. It's an A-movie (at least by Hong Kong standards) drama about romantic intrigues in an aristocratic household in 18th century China, based on a classic novel that is believed to be at least somewhat autobiographical. In other words, pretty much what this challenge is supposed to be about, although it would technically be considered a "safe" movie for the Drive-In Challenge, since it was a Shaw Brothers production.

I don't understand why anyone would worry about the overlap between the challenges. It would be easy to exclusively watch qualifying horror films during the Drive-In, Historical, Sci-Fi and Horror Challenges. I personally prefer to mix things up more.

Last edited by ororama; 05-06-11 at 07:40 AM.
Old 05-06-11, 07:40 AM
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Re: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Discussion Thre

Originally Posted by ororama View Post
My personal point of view regarding the Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge is that its definitions are too broad...
As a participant, I would agree with you. Ultimately, though, that's the purview of that particular challenge and not really under the scope of this one. The discussion thread for this year's Drive-In/etc. challenge is still going, and now might be a good time for any interested parties to press this issue.

I don't understand why anyone would worry about the overlap between the challenges.
Well, the thinking is primarily that each challenge should be unique and if there are whole scores of genres, eras, etc. that are eligible for multiple challenges, then that perhaps demonstrates that the nature of a given challenge is not as unique as it should be. Or, less diplomatically, there's a fear of stolen thunder.

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