Ten Films That Changed Pop Culture

Hollywood releases hundreds, if not thousands of movies every year, and a good portion of them barely leaves an impact to the public. However, there are the rare films that do stick out and make a difference in their respective genres and the film industry itself. These are the movies that forever changed popular culture.

10: AKIRA

Released in 1988 and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira is a cyberpunk dystopian science fiction anime film adaptation of Otomo’s doorstopper manga of the same name.

Akira is one of the greatest animated and science fiction films of all time and it also gave birth to the second wave of anime fandom in America in the 1990s.

American audiences began to see anime as a legitimate form of entertainment, therefore, Japan was able to send its animated films and series oversea such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Cowboy Bebop (1998).

Akira’s influence did not stop in its home island, its impact spread onto American popular culture and influenced live action films and television shows as The Matrix (1999), Chronicle (2012), Looper (2012) and Stranger Things (2016).

9: Star Wars: The Original Trilogy

As Stephen Colbert recalls the memories he had when first he watched Star Wars back in 1977 he said, “We went to school the next day unable to explain to our friends how everything was different now.”

The original Star Wars trilogy not only changed the science fiction genre but the film industry and the concept of popular culture as a whole. It’s memorable dialogue, special and sound effects, plotlines, characters, cinematography, costumes, animatronics, characters and so much more was able to captivate its audience and was referenced or parodied in other works ever since.

The film trilogy launched the careers of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher into stardom and popularizes the concept of trilogy throughout the industry.

8: Iron Man

Released in 2008 and directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man was the first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a shared universe where superheroes and supervillains created by Marvel Comics will interact with each other.

Marvel Studios was able to take the Marvel Universe into live action where superheroes and supervillains are in our world and have to deal with real life implications, laws and actions.

With Favreau’s direction and Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) Iron Man was a success and allowed the MCU to grow and expand into other forms of media.

Marvel’s main competitor DC Comics, along with Warner Brothers, created their own cinematic universe with their own superhero properties. Universal Studio is also involved with shared universes, only this time with classic horror monsters under their “Dark Universe.”

Granted, shared universes are not a new concept but Iron Man and the MCU is what brought it back into the spotlight.

7: Scarface

Scarface (1988) was directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone and is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name. Al Pacino stars as the titular character Tony Montana, a.k.a. Scarface, a Cuban refugee who eventually becomes the kingpin of crime and drugs in Miami, as he tries to achieve the American Dream in his own twist manner.

When it first premiered, critics panned Scarface as it was considered to be extremely violent and vulgar for their taste, but throughout the years, people were grasped by Al Pacino’s acting and his thick Cuban accent and were hypnotized by the grittiness of the Miami underworld, especially the Hip-Hop community.

A-stars rappers such as Jay Z, Snoop Dogg and Method Man praised the film. Jay Z in his song Ignorant Sh*t praised the film and at the same time dissed Scarface the rapper. “Scarface the movie did more than Scarface the rapper to me,” rapped Jay Z. Even Nas pays respect to the film as he dedicated a song’s title to Montana’s motto, The World is Yours.

Scarface has left its scar on popular culture.

6: Pulp Fiction

Released in 1994 Pulp Fiction is black comedy crime film, revolves around a large cast of characters all trying to survive the chaotic events that are presented to them.

Lines, dialogue, monologues and scenes so unforgettable, “English Motherf*cker do you speak it”, “Royale with cheese”, Marvin’s famous death, the restaurant scene at the beginning, Ezekiel 25:17 (to which some actually think Jules is speaking straight out of the Bible), and of course the badass boast from Marsellus himself, “I’ma get medieval on your ass” it’s hard not quote or even act these lines or scenes with your friends.

Pulp Fiction was the film that established Tarantino as a talented director of many trademarks such as extreme acts of violence, black comedy, cultivating characters and dialogue, non-linear narratives and foot fetishes. It revived the career of John Travolta, launched the careers of Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman and actually showed the film industry that independent films could be profitable and marketable.

5: The Blair Witch Project

Before the release of The Blair Witch Project, the found footage genre was related to one film, Cannibal Holocaust (1980). However, in 1999 Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, the directors of The Blair Witch Project brought the genre into the mainstream.

With a limited budget and props, a script with only 35 written pages and inexperienced actors, the film was probably set to fail, however with a trick or two up its sleeves, it managed the revolutionized the horror genre forever.

The marketing campaigns behind it were spread across the Internet, and took full advantage of it, as the crew manages to put online, documents, footage, dossiers, interviews, and even documentaries to blur the lines of what was real and what was not. It manages to convince people that events behind the film actually happen.

The cold temperature, a limited supply of food, the actors sharing the name of their characters and the production crew intentionally screwing with the cast to enforced the method acting increased the tension of fear and suspense of the film and gave it straight to the audience.

The film brought a new wave of the genre into the 2000s and 2010s, with films such as Paranormal Activity (2007), Cloverfield (2008) Chronicle, Project X, and V/H/S (all in 2012) taking inspiration from the film.

4: Saving Private Ryan

“War is hell,” said General Sherman. Steven Spielberg was able to capture that message in his 1998 epic war film, Saving Private Ryan.

Throughout the film, we don’t hear any of the orchestra music performed by John Williams instead we hear screams of agony, fear, pain and death, rapid firing of bullets and explosions from the battlefield.

The color of the film, rather than bright and colorful is dark and gray to depict the bleakness of war. As well throughout the film we see blood and gore from fallen soldiers to further display the horrors of war. All of this is displayed even further in the infamous Omaha Beach scene.

Before Saving Private Ryan, the Vietnam War was the center of war/action films, but the film brought America’s attention back to WWII.

The History Channel produced countless documentaries on the war and due to the success of the film, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced television miniseries such as Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010) based on the European and Pacific Ocean Theater of World War II.

Even video games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield first started out as first person shooters based on WWII.
Saving Private Ryan was able to bring back a war that left in this history book almost half century ago into the modern age.

3: Annie Hall

Annie Hall was released in 1977 and was directed and written by Woody Allen. The film stars Woody Allen himself as Alvy Singer, the New Yorker neurotic Jewish comedian boyfriend of Diane Keaton’s titular character Annie Hall.

Annie Hall was originally meant to be dramatic suspense murder mystery plot, while the now famous comedic romance story as the subplot.

However, the film’s editor Ralph Rosenblum did not like the murder mystery pl ot, and manage to convince Allen to drop it, and leave the romantic comedy aspect of it. As result, this is why the film has a non-linear narrative.
Annie Hall drastically changed the romantic comedy genre, and influence film such as When Harry Met Sally… (1989), High Fidelity (2000), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), (500) Days of Summer (2009) and among so many others.

2: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

In 1937, Walt Disney released a lighter and softer adaption of Snow White, the German fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers titled Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, cartoon shorts particularly the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony series were the real moneymakers. As such, many expected Snow White to be a failure and during its production called it “Disney’s Folly”.
However, by its premiere, critics, audience and everyone who thought the film was to fail was proven wrong and fell in love with Snow White. It was major critical and box office success and paved the way for Disney to become the international mass media entertainment empire it is now.

1: A Trip to the Moon

In the early days of film, Georges Méliès directed, produced, wrote, and starred in the first science fiction film, A Trip to the Moon.

Released in 1902, A Trip to the Moon was a black and white silent film, inspired by the novels From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and Around the Moon (1870) by Jules Verne and The First Man in the Moon (1901) by H. G. Wells.

The plot is exactly as what the title says, a group of French astronomers who go on a trip to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule crash land on the Moon’s eye and fight off lunar Selenites.

From its plot, the extraterrestrials, an alien landscape and of course unrealistic space travel;A Trip to the Moon is the proto-example of what an epic space science fiction film should be.

In the early days of film, Georges Méliès directed, produced, wrote, and starred in the first science fiction film, A Trip to the Moon.

In the early days of film, Georges Méliès directed, produced, wrote, and starred in the first science fiction film, A Trip to the Moon.

Released in 1902, A Trip to the Moon was a black and white silent film, inspired by the novels From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and Around the Moon (1870) by Jules Verne and The First Man in the Moon (1901) by H. G. Wells.

The plot is exactly as what the title says, a group of French astronomers who go on a trip to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule crash land on the Moon’s eye and fight off lunar Selenites.

From its plot, the extraterrestrials, an alien landscape and of course unrealistic space travel; A Trip to the Moon is the proto-example of what an epic space science fiction film should be.

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