4 Elements Of Great Movies
What makes a movie good? There are a lot more good movies than there are great ones and they all have certain things in common. So what are they?
I want to go over four key elements that most good movies have. To be considered a good movie by most people it’s going to have at least three of these four elements. The first and possibly most obvious is story.
Movies are just a form of storytelling, so you have to have a good story. A good film is never made out of a bad script, but sometimes bad movies are made out of good scripts. You have to start with a good story.
Any of the movies that were talking about here that achieve this level of greatness at least started with a good story to tell, a story told in an effective way. The second of the four elements is a little less obvious. In fact, it’s one of the more invisible elements we’re going to talk about – it’s pacing.
Even though pacing is the most invisible, it can also be the most noticeable when it’s done poorly. When pacing is off you tend to lose interest and you’ll notice this even in movies where a lot of money goes into it.
Batman versus Superman which came out recently, and Suicide Squad. Those are both movies that really suffered from pacing issues, both in different ways. There are a lot of elements that went into why neither of those movies were really considered very good, but pacing was a big one.
Pacing is just one element but we can really just bundle tonal consistency and also the cohesiveness of the storytelling into this one element, to boil it down and simplify it. This is really a key one – there are plenty of movies that suffer from it.
I like to look up the production value. When I say production value I’m not necessarily talking about budget. There are plenty of really great movies that were done for very low budgets for their time, but I’m talking about value.
Value can be assessed in plenty of ways. The production elements may be off, the acting might be off, the sets might be odd looking, or are not really realistic, or cheaply put together with too little effort.
Basically, if all of the production elements really don’t come together and really create this world that you’re trying to delve into for an hour and a half, then that takes you out of enjoying the talking about that skimped on production.
There are plenty of examples of movies done on a shoestring budget, where all the production
elements were rounded off. They’re so well done, you forget that you’re watching a movie and you can stay invested.
The fourth element of a good movie is about those ‘good moments’. These are your favourite scene in a movie and even just small little elements that you remember and that you really like and appreciate. Really good storytellers are great about putting things like this all in.
I don’t think necessarily that a good movie is required to have all four of those elements but I really do think it needs at least three of the four in order to be a movie. A lot of what we’re talking about here is subjective, so let’s just try to roll with it and re-cap.
If a movie’s got bad production value and doesn’t have good pacing, it’s probably not a good movie. You might like it, it might be your cup of tea but it’s not a good movie that a lot of people appreciate. Now that we’ve covered the elements that make a movie good, what’s that one thing that makes a movie great?
For me it’s time and only time. Well, what does that mean? I do not think you can judge whether a movie is truly great when it’s first released. You can think it’s great. You can think ‘that’s my new favourite movie’ but is it going to stand up to the test of time? Is it going to still be watched in 10, 20, or 30 years from now?
Most movies will not. These truly great movies will still be holding an audience and it’s going to be because they have three or four of the elements we just talked about. They’ve stood the test of time. They’ve held their audience. They’ve held a consistent fan base.
One of the greatest movies of all time, Citizen Kane, must be watched today on video by people almost hundred percent not born when that movie came out. It is still considered a very good movie by people in their 20s and 30s. Why? Because it is a solid movie. It’s particularly a good movie for people that like film-making.
They can see a lot of elements in it but there so many elements that went into making that movie good. The cinematography is amazing. It is a good story with great production value. It’s got some good moments in it. It’s enjoyable to watch and it’s a piece of history that we can still relate to.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is still a really great movie. The production value was there when it came out and it holds up watching it today. You can see some of the ‘movie magic’. Now that we know how things are made, it’s starting to become a little bit outdated, but the movie is a whole still holds up.
It’s fun to watch, has the moments, tells a good story, has solid production values and solid pacing.
It really doesn’t drag, even in moments where there’s not a lot of action, the characters are interesting. That’s a good example of one that has stood the test of time and is a great movie. It clearly has all of the elements were talking about.