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9 Responses

  1. People's Ministry of Philosophy (Baxist-Leninist) says:

    I think in addition to what was mentioned an epic also needs to be Judgmental. I don’t mean it has to be merely black/white, but it does need to be didactic about something. Some sort of cultural mores need to be criticized, the nature of heroism and cowardice interrogated, something like that. Forrest Gump has the elements of an epic but is mostly facetious so it’s a tall-tale. Indiana Jones and Matrix are too unserious because they’re just based around sympathizing (by default) with the guys like us. (Not to say the Nazis are insufficiently villainous or whatever, just the movie isn’t doing the heavy lifting to comment on them)

    The surest way a movie can show that it’s attempting to be epic, but failing, is to present a lot of material without attempting to have any sort of moral voice about it. If you look at the film adapations of V for Vendetta or Watchmen, they show what was on the page, but what is clearly missing is the author’s voice of Judgment that held up their epicness. (I hope that makes sense)

  2. Juhani Kenttä says:

    I thought long and hard about Forrest Gump. Intellectually I wanna say it is an epic but on a gut level I wanna say no. Then I think I found out why I felt that.

    In epics, the backdrop of the main character’s proceedings is often grand and historically important. While obviously we have a plethora of important events in Forrest Gump, they’re all diminished in their role. They don’t seem to have a life of their own and they all exist merely to serve Gump’s story. This is maybe most true with the Vietnam sequence; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where the Vietnam war felt as small. Whereas, in a movie such as The Deer Hunter (certainly an epic) the same war gets roughly the same amount of screentime and we again focus on a very small part of it, the Vietnam sequence still very much manages to feel a part of a bigger whole.

    The use of a particular war as a backdrop made me think of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Would you guys consider that an epic? I think I’d venture to say yes.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      The Deer Hunter was on my list and I never got around to mentioning it.

      I have trouble thinking of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that way because, even with its runtime, it’s lean and pulpy in a way that I love but doesn’t exactly seem grand.

      – David

  3. Ryan says:

    You guys may not care anymore, but Breaking Bad spanned exactly 2 years. The premiere was Walt’s 50th birthday, and the series finale was his 52nd.

  4. Andy says:

    I’d say Castaway is a contemporary epic. Grand scale, takes place over a good amount of time and the hero goes through a journey in a literal and spiritual sense.

    I’d also put up Scott Pilgrim vs the World as a contemporary epic. It has many fantastical elements but it still manages to feel like it takes place in normal, modern day universe.

  5. james says:

    I loved this episode. I think the elements can be grand scale, sweeping and at times encyclopedic in nature, as well as a lengthy running time. I’m no expert though. In my film class (I teach HS students), I’m defining epic that way and using The Godfather Part II, Hoop Dreams, Lawrence of Arabia, and JFK as epics, though I’d be curious to know what you think about that last one.

  6. Ben says:

    I don’t think this was mentioned, but how about Boyhood as a modern-day epic? It’s almost three hours long and it covers a span of 12 years. It seems pretty grand in its own way.

  7. Gene says:

    Great conversation. Trying to get a grapple on this myself and the phrase I keep thinking of is a life-defining story. Not that it has to go from birth to death of a character, but it must cover one or more events which define their lives in a deep and significant way. So it’s not bound by an adventure or time-span or number of people involved, but rather the impact on our main character. My 2 cents. Great podcast guys.

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