Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks

A Diverse Menu of Cinematic Delicacies that do not Expire

by Andreas Spitz, Emöke-Ágnes Horvát

Abstract

The film industry knows several recipes for guaranteed blockbusters, but as is the case with real fast-food, these recipes also result in a limited diet where every serving tastes the same. The commonly available personal favorite lists of filmgoers all around the world indicate this cinematic malnutrition. Connoisseurs and critics on the other hand often have a very specific taste, which results in exotic and specialized menus of films, tailored to an appetite only few can stomach. Either kind of list is prone to contain films with common traits and thus reveals more about the list’s creator than about our film heritage. In a novel approach to this problem, we suggest an objective way of putting together a more diverse selection of films that is based on long-lasting cinematic influences instead of personal tastes. We derive a list of the most influential films not from the insights of a handful of experts or fans, but from a large-scale network that contains different types of film references and reflects the viewpoint of the filmmakers themselves. As a result, the obtained list is no longer subject to personal taste. Instead, it consists of films that incorporate a wide palette of cinematic tools and elements of style: the films that taught cinema its best tricks and the delicacies which no aspiring filmmaker could resist referencing. For a network-based comparison, we transform top lists of films into multiplex networks by connecting films that share common traits such as genre, cast, crew, language or period of release. We analyze the proposed objective list in relation to various existing top lists to point out structural differences between them. Our results show that personal taste is too narrow to account for the full range  of different flavours in world cinema.

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