Aging

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Aging in Cinema

Which movie or movies show(s) the most realistic human aging? What makes the portrayal of the aging process especially realistic or effective? Besides physical changes, what psychological, mental, or spiritual changes are shown in the film(s)? What, if any, abilities lost with youth are most dearly missed?

  • The first film that came to mind after reading this topic was Mr. Holmes starring Ian McKellen. It does a fantastic job showing how someone like Sherlock Holmes, famous for his sharp intellect, also must eventually deal with the challenges of old age, specifically memory loss. – KennethC 4 years ago
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  • Interesting topic. Some films that come to mind: Burn After Reading (the Coen brothers' ode to aging), Up (an all around perfect film, that forces its audience - comprised predominantly of children - to confront mortality in its first fifteen minutes), While We're Young (a heartwarming indie flick about middle age), and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (not exactly "realistic" per se, but examines the subject well and seriously drives home the point of "youth is wasted on the young"). – ProtoCanon 4 years ago
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  • Kenneth, your comment makes me think of Flowers for Algernon where the intellectual drop-off for a genius is sharper than for an average person. I know that's a special case, but wonder if it's generally true.ProtoCanon, I saw that someone had written either an article or a topic regarding unusual aging (I think), and it included Benjamin Button, Eric Roth's Forrest Gump part two, in my opinion.I also love Up.If you like music, Bob Dylan's "Highlands" - an ode to longing for youth - will steal 16 minutes of your brief life in what seems like five. It'll also bring a whole new meaning to hard-boiled eggs and an artist's pencil. – Tigey 4 years ago
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  • Perhaps I'm biased because I've been thinking of this film A LOT lately, but I'm fascinated with the representation of age and mental health portrayed in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Obviously, this film is quite dramatic given it's both a psychological thriller and from the 60's, however, its dedication to representing the damaging effects of untreated mental illness is inspired. Both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were in their 50's at the time, and neither was cinched, glamorized, or portrayed too empathetically; indeed, both of them were, through makeup and wardrobe, pushed to their frumpiest.Although I'm sure Simone de Beauvior would have something to say about the connection of age and madness or age and disgust (a la her book, "The Coming of Age"), the film pulls no stops examining how haggard these sisters have become after exceptionally rough lives, both due to the unfairness of their childhood and their choices as adults. – Kitty Davies 4 years ago
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  • Kitty, that's a whole new angle on the topic: dysfunctional child is father to the dysfunctional man and how that accelerates aging. Our choices live past our deaths through our survivors. It's easy for me to blame ancestors for the poor choices I make today, but not easy to determine how much of my stuff is really their stuff, and how much is my own lack of character. It's important to choose the right parents. – Tigey 4 years ago
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Growing old on screen: the changing representation

Throughout the years, many films have tackled the theme of growing old. They have changed our perspective on aging and moving with time. With new technologies and modern behaviours, old people of the 21st century seem completely different to old people in the 1950s – attitudes change, and fun seems to be at the heart of aging, whereas it was once depicted as a curse or a synonym of tranquility and sometimes lethargy. Think about Sorrentino’s Youth, Haneke’s Amour, Reiner’s The Bucket List – what do they tell us about aging? How do attitudes change?

  • I think it would be great to include Benjamin Button in this analysis – kathleensumpton 5 years ago
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  • I think it would be valuable to set up a control group, i.e., a film from the 1950s to compare with your experimental group, a film from 2015. – InAugust 5 years ago
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  • The new British film 45 Years shows a fantastic depiction of the elderly in their more vulnerable years. Not only are the characters shown to be physically unstable, gone is the fleeting unpredictability of youth and the possibility of adventure, leaving plenty of room for regrets and the realisation that certain possibilities are now off the table. – thehustler195 5 years ago
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  • It might also be interesting to compare films that target older viewers as opposed to films that target young viewers and just happen to have an older character. It seems likely that the subject will be handled differently depending on the intended audience. – KASquires 5 years ago
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