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What Makes a Great Movie?

Buzzle Staff
The designation of "great" is highly subjective when talking about movies, but there are a few elements that almost everyone can agree are important. This information takes you through the factors that go into making a great movie.

Schindler's List

This is the true story of a businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is a testament for the good in all of us. The movie has won 7 Oscars, 7 BAFTA Awards, 3 Golden Globes.
The world of films is extremely competitive. One may have a great idea for a movie, but if it is not made in a proper way, chances are high that the movie won't even be noticed. So, what should follow a great story idea is an equally good script and dialog.
Movie stars are adored by millions. However, the movies that they are in don't always shine as brightly as they do on the red carpet. So a strong star cast and some great acting are important factors contributing to a great movie.
The location and setting of a movie and the costumes and makeup given to the characters are the other important elements of a good movie. A film that can capture and sustain people's interest and attention can take a long time and involve a lot of planning and thought. Described here are the elements involved in the making of a masterpiece.

A Good Plot

The plot of a movie is its storyline which determines the sequence of events that lead the characters towards their objectives. When the characters are introduced to a situation, they start working to get what they want. They are put into worse situations until they finally conquer the problem.
A good plot gives momentum and a sense of priority to the story, and engages or interests the viewers. When a story has a climax and true feelings, it captures the viewers' attention and makes them more inclined to watch the movie and connect with it.
Also, stories with surprising endings always pull more audiences and have a lasting impression on their minds. It's the movie plot that decides how the story starts, how it progresses, and where and how it ends.
The movie Gone Girl, is an example of a good plot, script, and direction. The movie tells the alarming story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a happy couple whose marriage has soured. On the day of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy disappears from the house.
A suspense is created as to whether Amy is dead or just gone. What is exciting is the way the mystery unfolds. As Nick explains his side of the story to the detectives who aren't trusting him, the missing Amy tells hers through voice-overs and flashbacks. The movie Psycho is an example of a great plot.

A Great Script

The script or screenplay encompasses writing, audio, visuals, and dialog that are required to tell the story through a film. A script undergoes revisions and rewrites before it is presented to the audiences.
Even with a good plot and some talented actors, a flat script can drag a movie down. On the other hand, a great script, even if presented by less known actors may go down very well with the viewers.

A Strong Cast

The actors and actresses in a movie are extremely important for its success. The right actor or actress can take a movie from good to great and similarly, a sub-par performer can cause an otherwise good movie to tank. Casting professionals work for months, sometimes even years, to find the perfect talent for their films.
Ideally, cast members should have great chemistry, be able to represent their characters with integrity, and truly bring the script to life.
Howard Hughes played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie 'The Aviator', Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in 'Forrest Gump', and Meryl Streep's award-winning performances in 'The Iron Lady' and 'Kramer vs. Kramer' are some examples of brilliant casting and great acting.
Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump is an example of brilliant casting and great acting.

Great Direction

A movie can be considered to be well-directed when it has a balance of artistry, technical skillfulness, leadership, and compassion. Often known as the captain of the ship, the director has to ensure that all the aspects of a movie are perfectly put together and presented effectively. He has to determine what the basic drive of the story should be.
The script, visuals, acting, music, camerawork, editing and costumes work in unison. To shape every aspect along the necessary path, the director must cooperate with the writer on the script creation, help the casting director select proper actors and conduct rehearsals.
And, he must collaborate with the producers for making a good shooting schedule, plan the full visual of the film with those involved in designing and photography and multitask well to ensure everything is done effectively. Also, he should bond well with the actors and give them freedom to show their talents.
A great film should be able to convey meaning to the audience, who is on the same path of discovery that the director had experienced or imagined. The movie Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is widely known as one of the best-directed ones.
It is about a series of unfortunate events in a family, involving soured relations and revenge when the aging head of the family decides to transfer his position to one of his subalterns. It ends with the favorable successor being chosen.
'Schindler's List', directed by Steven Spielberg, 'Casablanca' directed by Michael Curtiz, and 'Singin' in the Rain', a musical comedy directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen are some other movies known for their direction.
The movie Godfather is an example of excellent direction.


Dialog comes into play when the characters are interacting. They can be one of the hardest things to write. They should be focused on moving the story forward, revealing the characters and communicating information. It is important to decide how much dialog is needed, when to use it, and how long should it be in the screenplay.
It is important to write it down, read it aloud to ensure that the lines do not sound halting, forced, stereotyped or over-the-top. They need to ring proper and sound natural, distinct and like a normal talk. It is crucial to know the characters well so as to assess what lines will suit which character and how they will say them, whatever the situation is.
A line like "When people can't do something themselves, they're gonna tell you that you can't do it." from 'Pursuit of Happyness', or a line like "What we do in life echoes in eternity." from the movie 'Gladiator'.
"Nothing's ever for sure, John. That's the only sure thing I do know." from 'A Beautiful Mind' are some of the most famous movie lines. They have surely contributed to the success of these films.

The Perfect Location

Filming is an intricate process; professionals in the industry often film scenes out of order to accommodate the schedules of the actors, and to best piece the film together. But no matter how complex the filming process is, the location of a film can make or break the movie.
Filming in the wrong location can make the movie seem unreal, provide the wrong tone, or even contradict the events that take place in the script. Hence, it is imperative to find the right location, environment and setting.
A film would be more believable and appropriately set the mood of the story if it is filmed in a natural environment like an apartment for a film set, a park, real-life houses and offices, a historical site, or an everyday convenience store. The audience will get visually poured over the scene details and become absorbed into the movie.
In the movie 'Titanic', the scenes were shot on the vessel, 'Akademik Mstislav Keldysh'. The director Cameron, had used it as a base when filming the wreck. Scale models, computer-generated imagery and a reconstruction of the Titanic were used.
Political, economic, and social aspects are also important when choosing where to shoot. For instance, some cities give production companies tax breaks in order to attract their business, which can create hundreds of jobs in the area, depending on the size of the film's budget.
Additionally, production companies may opt to support certain cities or political figures by choosing to shoot in their area.

Costumes and Makeup

Just as the right location can impact the tone of a film, so too can the costumes and makeup that the actors and actresses wear.
While you may think of the actual dialog and action of a film as being the main conductors of a story, the costumes and makeup play a key role in creating the right atmosphere. For example, in the movie Harry Potter, Harry wears a brown corduroy jacket because it is a hard-wearing fabric.
He wears it before and after the Battle of Hogwarts. Many duplicate costumes were required to be made to show the stages of the battle. So the costume team washed the costumes with stones, rubbing the fabrics with sandpaper and cutting holes into them to make them appear realistic and true to the script.
So, these were the most important elements that make a great movie. Saying that a movie is great is all a matter of opinion, and people will naturally differ on the finer points of a wonderful movie's merits. However, the elements listed here are nearly universally accepted as factors that determine the fate of a movie.