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What makes a movie "dated" vs. being a "period piece"?

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What makes a movie "dated" vs. being a "period piece"?

Old 06-08-08, 07:21 PM
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What makes a movie "dated" vs. being a "period piece"?

Today I was watching "Splash" with a friend, and she laughed at how dated the movie was because of the clothing, trends, cars, etc etc. This made me wonder how some movies, such as Splash can feel dated, but other movies from other periods of time don't feel dated, and merely come off as "period pieces", even if they take place within the time frame that the movie was made.

Discuss.
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Old 06-08-08, 07:44 PM
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a period piece, to me, is something like The Patriot. a dated movie to me, is something like Encino Man.
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Old 06-08-08, 07:56 PM
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"Periods" are usually times in history that none of us were alive during. "Dated" is when we ourselves can remember things from that particular time. That's how I've always defined it.
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Old 06-08-08, 08:36 PM
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Uh, it's kinda easy. A movie filmed in the 70's that takes place in the same time period is dated versus a movie filmed in the 70's that takes place in the 14th Century is a period piece.
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Old 06-08-08, 08:54 PM
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A "period piece" generally refers to a movie that is purposely set in a previous time, NOT in the time during which the movie was actually made. The period doesn't have to be a time during which none of us were alive. Dazed and Confused (released in 1993) could be called a period piece. It is set in the 70s (a time many of us can remember) and it is made to look and feel like the seventies--the cars, hairstyles, music, societal norms, etc.

I think a major factor is that many movies (like Splash) are dated by the moviemaking "styles" that were popular when the movie was made. There can be trends in editing, composition, scoring, lighting, etc. that we identify with different years in filmmaking. I'd guess that period pieces are less likely to follow such trends because the filmmakers are probably going to make choices that do not evoke the current era of filmmaking. They may go for a more timeless feel to help separate this movie from its contemporaries.

On the other hand, I'm sure there are plenty of period pieces that are also dated. Westerns/cowboy movies are a good example. Many westerns made in the 1960's (but set in the 1800's) look and feel like 60s movies. (eg, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).
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Old 06-08-08, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
Uh, it's kinda easy.
It's a simple matter of definition.
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Old 06-08-08, 09:05 PM
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I think a movie is dated if it no longer reflects the concerns or ideas that viewers have today. "The Maltese Falcon" may be full of old fashioned clothes and cars, but its theme of the treachery of charming men and seductive women still resonates today.

The point of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is that Negros are just as good as we are. But no one cares anymore.
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Old 06-08-08, 09:12 PM
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Mrs Danger points out that a period piece is set in the past, and hinges on attitudes of the past, so it explains those attitudes to the present day audience.

"Spartacus" explains everyone's motivations. "Office Space" expects us to understand evil fax machines and flair.
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Old 06-08-08, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
The point of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is that Negros are just as good as we are. But no one cares anymore.
That film is fresh and current compared to Gentleman's Agreement.
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Old 06-08-08, 10:38 PM
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Dated movie: Shrek.
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Old 06-08-08, 11:41 PM
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A period piece is a movie that takes place in another time period and tries to capture a feel for the world itself.

A dated piece is a movie that takes place whenever it wants, but shows its age in poor special effects, poor audio, poor video quality, jokes that reference pop culture events and people, music choices, etc; that would appeal almost exclusively to people in that time period. Period pieces generally don't try to be "hip" and follow current trends.

For instance: any movie with all the song "All Star", or any song, by Smash Mouth was dated by the time it hit theaters.
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Old 06-09-08, 01:09 AM
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These terms take on whole new meanings when applied to relationships.
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Old 06-09-08, 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Patman
Dated movie: Shrek.
This is the first thing I thought of as well.
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Old 06-09-08, 02:49 AM
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Usually good writing is what stops a movie from becoming "dated", but special FX can have a hand in "dating" a movie as well

A "period piece" has already been explained.
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Old 06-09-08, 03:51 AM
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I find the term "dated" kind of condescending, because when the term is used, it's pointing out something that is of a time period, but always used in a negative way, as if the makers of the movie should've known better than to make a joke that wasn't going to be "understood" years later. do movies really have to be these timeless epics?
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Old 06-09-08, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
Mrs Danger points out that a period piece is set in the past, and hinges on attitudes of the past, so it explains those attitudes to the present day audience.
This has always been my take on it. WWII films made during the war can come off as dated if there is too much emphasis on the patriotic mood of the time. Straight forward combat films stay relevant, combat is combat. A film like Best Yours of Our Lives doesn't date because soldiers will always be coming home with they and their families facing the same situations. Another example are anti-communist films of the 50s that beat you over the head with the "red scare" message. Doesn't register today. Yet cold war films like Seven Days In May, Fail-Safe, Dr. Strangelove stay relevant. Here it is 2008 and yet 2001 isn't dated because the date 2001 has nothing to do with the story.
Old sc-fi seems dated to me if current knowledge trumps it. A civilation on the moon for example, or brain transplants, unpressurized spaceships.
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Old 06-09-08, 09:52 AM
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I think Superboy's point is more than sometimes movies that were made during the period in which they were set just feel "right" while others have aged less gracefully.
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Old 06-09-08, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Brack
I find the term "dated" kind of condescending, because when the term is used, it's pointing out something that is of a time period, but always used in a negative way, as if the makers of the movie should've known better than to make a joke that wasn't going to be "understood" years later. do movies really have to be these timeless epics?
No, they don't. But the point is, when you're talking about these films it serves as a warning that it may not be digestible to a modern audience. Indeed, a lot of movies that are dated today often resonated the loudest with their contemporary audiences.
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Old 06-09-08, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by UAIOE
Usually good writing is what stops a movie from becoming "dated", but special FX can have a hand in "dating" a movie as well

A "period piece" has already been explained.
Poor SFX don't have a hand in dating a movie unless it largely depends on SFX. "King Kong" has clunky stop-action animation where you can see the fingerprints on the models. But it's still great because there is more to that movie than SFX.

But any movie made today that has a poor storyline but awesome CGI will look dreadful in fifty years. I think the whole movie-making style of actors standing in front of a blue screen and reacting to a ping pong ball on a wire is going to make people cringe in a few years. It will be worse than the early talkies were you see the actors lean forward and speak clearly into the flowerpot.

Last edited by Nick Danger; 06-09-08 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 06-09-08, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mndtrp
Originally Posted by Patman
Dated movie: Shrek.
This is the first thing I thought of as well.
Why is Shrek dated?
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Old 06-09-08, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
Why is Shrek dated?
It's not, but there are a few dated elements within (such as the use of "All-Star" and other pop tunes). Most of the jokes that refer to pop culture still play fine even if you don't get the reference.

The sequels, on the other hand, are a different story as they rely too much on making cheap gags and easy pop culture riffs. The third film moreso than the second.
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Old 06-09-08, 12:34 PM
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This is what I don't undersand: A movie made in 1984 where everyone has big hair, neon clothes and the characters constantly reference pop culture of the day, is considered "dated". A movie made in 2008 but is set in 1984, where everyone has big hair, neon clothes and the characters constantly reference pop culture of the day, is considered not only a period piece, but probably "clever" or "genius", as well.
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Old 06-09-08, 12:42 PM
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In 500 years, Splash will be a period piece.
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Old 06-09-08, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by The Infidel
"Periods" are usually times in history that none of us were alive during. "Dated" is when we ourselves can remember things from that particular time. That's how I've always defined it.
So in 500 years, Splash will be a period piece?

I weep for the future.
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Old 06-09-08, 12:45 PM
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Back to the Future was on tv the other night, and I watched a few minutes. Specifically, the scene where Marty goes to the diner shortly after coming back to 1955. In that brief sequence, he confuses the guy behind the counter with his down vest and by trying to order "Pepsi Free" and "Tab". It occurred to me that my kids would be just as befuddled by all that as the guy from 1955.
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