Eight or nine days ago, First Showing’s Alex Billington paid roundabout tribute to 300, a film he believes is waaay ahead of its time, by listing a dozen motion pictures that were similarly ahead of the curve in their time and place. But with the exception of Mike Judge‘s Office Space and Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis, the films Billington lists are actually fanboy standard-setters. They did something fairly fresh and striking that led to commercial paydirt, and everyone followed suit in order to get in on a profitable new thing.
Films that are truly ahead of their time are most often ignored or scorned — only later do people say to each other, “Aah, yes…that film was onto something….I should have paid closer attention” A good example of a film far ahead of its time is/was John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, which searingly satirized McCarthyism, foresaw the assassinations that would eventually color the American political landscape of the ’60s, and anticipated the political paranoia which would permeate the culture in the early to mid ’70s. Another example in this vein would be Michelangelo Antonioni‘s L’Avventura.
Billington’s list of standard-setters are Psycho, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jaws, Star Wars, Tron, War Games, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, The Fifth Element, Starship Troopers, Office Space and The Matrix.