Wednesday night CBS aired AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers, an American Film Institute special in which they revealed what they considered the 100 most inspiring films of all time. As has been the case with AFI's past specials, I found this one to be a mixed bag. There were movies I thought should not be on the list, movies I thought should have been on the list, and movies that I thought should have ranked either higher or lower.
I suppose I should begin with the movies I feel should not have made the list. Among these is Working Girl, which came in at 87. Now I like Working Girl. It is a funny, well done movie. But is it inspiring? I don't think so. Another movie I do not think should have made the list is An Officer and a Gentleman (#68). I do think it is an enjoyable movie (although a bit overrated...), but is it particularly inspiring? Again, I don't think it is. Another movie that I like a good deal that I don't think should have made the list is Thelma and Louise. Now I think it is a great film (as many of Ridley Scott's films are) and I have always enjoyed it, but I find it no more inspiring than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Bonnie and Clyde (two films I also like a good deal).
Of course, there were films that I did not like that I don't think should have made the list. One of those is The Sound of Music. I have said it before in this blog and I will say it again. The Sound of Music is dull. A movie cannot be inspiring if you cannot bear to sit through the parts where they are not singing (it does have a great soundtrack).... At least The Sound of Music is based on real life events. While Braveheart purports to be based on historical events, it departs so much from the historical record that if Edward Longshanks was still alive, he could sue for slander. Its message of freedom is admirable; its portrayal of historical events and personages is offensive in the extreme.
As to movies that should have made the list, while there are quite a few I can think just off the top of my head. I have always thought El Cid to not only be one of the greatest epics of all time, but one of the most inspiring films of all time as well. Do the Right Thing, directed by Spike Lee, is in my opinion perhaps the best movie about racial relations ever produced. And while I am not Christian, I must say that I found both The Bishop's Wife and The Last Temptation of Christ to be particularly inspiring movies--they can be appreciated as universal statements of faith, regardless of one's beliefs. There are a few other films I can think of that should have made the list as well: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the best children's movie ever made) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (the greatest fantasy films of all time).
As I mentioned above, there are also movies that made the list that I think should have ranked lower. I can appreciate that Rocky is considered inspiring for many. I cannot deny I find it a bit inspiring myself. But is it so inspiring that it should rank #4 on the list? Is it really more inspiring than The Grapes of Wrath and Apollo 13? By the same token, I can't see how Philadelphia came in at #20, placing above Gandhi, City Lights, and Meet John Doe.
Finally, there are movies that made the list that I think should have ranked higher than they did. I was suprised that Babe only came in at #80. I would have thought it would have made the top twenty, at least. By the same token, I would have thought Fiddler on the Roof (one of my favourite musicals of all time), which came in at only 82, should have made the top twenty. Spartacus, one of the best movies addressing heroism ever made, should have made the top ten. It only ranked #44.
Overall, I can't complain too much about AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers. Most of the films I expected to make the list did make it. And I can't argue that too many of the films on the list are not inspiring. I am very happy that It's a Wonderful Life was #1, although I seriously doubt there were very many who had any doubt that it would be.