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"Movie" or "Film" ? What's in a name?


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This is a rather frivolous thread topic, but because I've been writing about our favourite things, movies, so much lately on this site, I have been giving more thought than usual to what exactly we call them. I usually use the two words, "film" and "movie" interchangeably, but there are subtle differences, "nuances" to each term.

 

"Waddaya wanna do?" "I dunno -let's go to a movie".

 

"Last night at the arts festival, I saw a very fine film." See?

 

"Movie" has connotations of common man entertainment, "film'" has connotations of "art", university courses, etc.

 

I like 'em both, I give equal time to both. Other words or terms used , present and past, for these stories on celluloid include: "moving pictures" (past - of course where we got the term movie from);

"talking pictures", "talkies" -past, obviously ; "flicks" (from "flickering" images); the cinema, "cinema show"; "the pictures", pics, There are probably more.

Just thought it was interesting to reflect on the words we use to describe this thing we all like so much. Any comments?

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I recently became a snob about this. I too used to use the words interchangeably.

 

Now when I say film, I'm thinking John Huston teaming up with Humphrey Bogart.

 

When I say movie, think CGI, cheap jokes, bad acting, bad script, and something produced in the last 20 years.

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What a perfect thread for me to voice a strong opinion of mine. I think that motion pictures shouldn't be called films. When you look up film in the dictionary, it can mean a motion picture, but it can also mean a couple of other things. When you look up movie in the dictionary, every definition has to do with a motion picture. Film may seem fancy, but the best and coolest nickname for a moving picture is movie.

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Cool topic. I remember reading years ago about an infamous 'debate' between the late critic Pauline Kael and her fellow critics circle about this very topic. It seems Kael always INSISTED on using the word movie over the word film. I guess she thought "film' was too pretentious. I have to say I kinda agree. To me a movie's a movie. Film sounds like something I should be studying in some boring college class. Movies are what I LOVE. But, again, a matter of taste.

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> {quote:title=THEMovieman wrote:}{quote}

> What a perfect thread for me to voice a strong opinion of mine. I think that motion pictures shouldn't be called films. When you look up film in the dictionary, it can mean a motion picture, but it can also mean a couple of other things. When you look up movie in the dictionary, every definition has to do with a motion picture. Film may seem fancy, but the best and coolest nickname for a moving picture is movie.

 

You know what is funny? You are so right. I remember in college a film professor told me the EXACT thing you just said. He was right. I think for me it does have something to do with the fact that film just sounds better to me. I have to admit, I can't see myself referring to films as "motion pictures" regularly even though that is exactly what they are. Maybe I'll start calling them talking pictures. :)

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I've noticed that people who exclusively use the word "film" fall into the stereotype that I call "Charlie Tuna intellectuals," i.e., people who surround themselves with culture not because they like it, but because they want everyone around them to see what good taste they have. (You probably have to be over 45 to get the "Charlie Tuna" reference.)

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Welcome to the world of *Synonyms*. The English language is full of it. Its like the word theatre in which we use the words "movie house", cinema, etc. Originally the theatre meant a place where plays were showned before the days of movies.

 

Using words like this is why English is one of the hardest languages for foeigners to learn. Many languages don't use synonyms or antonyms.

 

I rather use synonyms than antonyms because the latter can lead to confusion. I know the Web Admin don't like us to use religion but I hope this can be an exception since the subject is how we use words. Most people don't know that *hell* is an antonymn that has caused confusion for centuries. I bet a lot of people don't know that it once was used instead of *root cellar* in older times.

Has different meanings, even a garbage dump where refuse is burned.

 

Here is a website that may be of interest http://www.english-for-students.com/Synonyms.html

This site only covers a small percentage of words and don't even include what we are talking about!

Welcome to the world of *English*.

 

Our bad.

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> {quote:title=phroso wrote:}{quote}

> I've noticed that people who exclusively use the word "film" fall into the stereotype that I call "Charlie Tuna intellectuals," i.e., people who surround themselves with culture not because they like it, but because they want everyone around them to see what good taste they have. (You probably have to be over 45 to get the "Charlie Tuna" reference.)

 

I don't use the word "film" exclusively (my post history here will prove this), however, I do admit that I like the way film sounds, for some reason I like calling classic movies "films" but they are all the same thing anyway. Also, when it comes to moving pictures, I think that it is clear that I don't have necessarily "good taste" in films, but just usual likes and dislikes and some unpopular opinions mixed in.

 

I don't get the Charlie Tuna reference, but I must say that in my opinion, the people who want to come off as having good taste in their cinema knowledge seem to be long winded in message board responses using big words in complex sentences that read more like a stuffy scholar and less like someone who is watching for pure entertainment. They take pleasure in correcting even the slightest details of the posts/opinions of others and believe that film discussion doesn't have gray area. Not taking shots at any posters here, I read several different message boards, and have seen this, but I don't think using the word "film" makes a person feel any kind of elitist way over someone who uses "movie".

 

If I started calling them "talkies" these days, what would people say? :)

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James, in answer to your question, Charlie Tuna intellectuals give themselves away when they reveal that they rarely have even a working knowledge of the stuff that they say they like. Real-life examples: a woman I dated loved foreign films but had never heard of Federico Fellini or any of his principal movies; another woman "loved" Billie Holliday but had never heard of her signature tune, "God Bless the Child;" a guy who I worked with idolized James Dean but had not seen and could not name any of his movies. I'm not saying that everybody has to be a fanboy; but, if a person cannot even sustain small talk about their own highfalutin' interests, then I will continue to think of them as poseurs until they can prove otherwise. If that makes me a "black pot," then you must be the Franklin stove that calls the pots and kettles black.

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hamradio, I don't want to derail this thread into a discussion of the complexities of the English language. (for one thing, it would never end!). However, it's not clear to me if those ambiguities you refer to in English are regarded by you as a good thing or a bad thing. I get the impression you think it's a negative, because you end your post with, "Our bad. "

 

But I think those very inconsistencies and ambiguities etc. that are part of the English language are also part of its beauty and its longevity. It's a complicated, flexible language that's continually changing.

Good for it.

 

The fact that we have at least 5 different terms for moving images on celluloid is a testament to this language's adaptability.

 

Someone mentioned that "movie" just refers to the one thing, while " film" has several different meanings. It's also a verb.

 

Hope this isn't all just cerebral ****. Even if it is, it's fun to ponder this stuff.

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> {quote:title=phroso wrote:}{quote}

> James, in answer to your question, *Charlie Tuna intellectuals give themselves away when they reveal that they rarely have even a working knowledge of the stuff that they say they like.* Real-life examples: a woman I dated loved foreign films but had never heard of Federico Fellini or any of his principal movies; another woman "loved" Billie Holliday but had never heard of her signature tune, "God Bless the Child;" a guy who I worked with idolized James Dean but had not seen and could not name any of his movies. I'm not saying that everybody has to be a fanboy; but, if a person cannot even sustain small talk about their own highfalutin' interests, then I will continue to think of them as poseurs until they can prove otherwise. If that makes me a "black pot," then you must be the Franklin stove that calls the pots and kettles black.

 

Thanks for the definition (I'm under 45 years of age :) ). There are many "Charlie Tunas" all over the internet.

 

Many people do this with Marilyn Monroe. Several females under the age of 30 idolize her and can't name 5 of her films. They quote her when it is really a character she played. I have also seen this with Mae West and Steve McQueen.

 

I got my whole table a comp'd dinner when I told the owner (didn't know he was at the time) that he looked like Tyrone Power (he did) and he didn't really think I knew who Ty Power was beyond a headshot. He asked me to name 5 of Ty's films. I told him I could do even better and named 20. The whole table was surprised, as was the owner and the waiter. He joked if I had named his costars he would have given me co-ownership. That tab was $375.

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LoveFilmNoir, all I can say is , wow ! that is truly impressive. I don't think I could name 20 films with Humphrey Bogart in them, let alone Ty Power. I never remember stuff like that. (I could name 5, though).

You definitely earned that free meal. Next time you go out for dinner, I want to come too.

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Growing up in Jersey City we use to say "We are going to the Show" when we went to the Loews or as we say in JC, "LOW EEs".

 

BTW, the location where we watched the "Show"., was it a movie theater or film theater. Are they movie stars or film stars, certainly not actors (nose in air). Was the blue movie, a porn movie or a porn film, or does it depend on the quality of the... performance?

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I didn't mean that English as a spoken language was bad, only its too quick evolution can be a disadvantage. The older generation simply like to know what the younger generation is saying. :|

 

This blog better covers the point I am getting at. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090906164113AAXPbMY

 

Some people ask me why didn't I took a second language while in high school.? Duh let me learn this one FIRST!

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I think you pretty much nailed the distinctions. 'Movie' is a more generic proletariat term. 'Film' is more academic. And 'cinema' is more bourgeoisie.

 

'Talkies' are usually those titles produced from the late 20s to the early/mid-30s.

 

'Flicks' seems like another hamburger term. 'Motion pictures' would be more steak.

 

'Celluloid' is more the film preservationists' domain.

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The industry old-timers used to refer to them simply as "pictures". Max Steiner referred to himself as a "picture-scorer".

 

I'm surprised the artistes haven't added an "e" to the end of film.

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One distinction no one has pointed out yet is that, at least today, a "movie" is feature length. You wouldn't go see a program of all short cartoons, and say you were going to see movies. Of course, you probably wouldn't say you were going to see some "film" either. But, if it was a program of shorts, possibly with a few toons, but short narrative films, short docs, etc., "film," or "films" is definitely the best term.

 

I agree that there is a bit of snobbishness in how the two terms are used. I would advocate using the two terms in the context of what one is saying, or discussing, but not necessarily based on the perceived 'importance' of the piece one is discussing. So, if one is discussing what title they will see when they go to the theater, "movie" is appropriate. If one is discussing the comparative merit of two or more titles, then calling them 'films' may be more appropriate.

 

But, in an era where "movie" theaters are switching over to showing things from hard drives, or other digital sources, "film" may well be on its way out, as it will no longer be accurate. Maybe we'll come up with another word.

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I think they call it *Netflix.* :)

 

For the life of me, I can't understand the logic in watching ANY type of movies on thoses iphones, ipads, etc. Somebody gave me an old ipad last year and try to watch a video on it. These are the most useless things I've ever seen. Watch a movie on a big screen for crying out loud. I don't even watch a movie on a 19" computer screen. I only use my DVD in it to take snapshots

 

Only a mouse can appreciate those tiny screens. Wonder "How the West Was Won" would look on it? (hope that got the point across).

 

*Now playing on Mouseflix.*

Movies-on-the-iPhone.jpg

 

Edited by: hamradio on Jul 27, 2010 7:22 PM

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