A legacy is something that most politicians crave to leave behind, and fortunately it’s generally within their powers to achieve this. But for a film to leave a legacy is a far trickier concept. That’s because it relies on something quite undefinable to create it. If it was just a question of its box office success, then it would be easy to say which of the films of the last few decades had achieved this feat. But even movies that haven’t been huge commercial successes have managed to carve out very impressive legacies for themselves.
Instead, it’s to do with the unique connection that the film makes with its audience that ensures that it goes on being remembered and revered even by future generations of movie fans, as these five prime examples show.
Yes, there had been dinosaur movies released before Jurassic Park hit the screen back in 1993 – film buffs will remember 1 Million Years BC starring a fur-bikini-clad Raquel Welch and the prosaically titled When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. But, none had quite the cultural impact of what has been widely recognized as a masterpiece in tension and terror from Stephen Spielberg, a director who had surely cut his teeth on the big monster movie with Jaws.
The legacy that it has left behind can be seen in countless ways. For example, the NBA team from Toronto almost immediately adopted the nickname Raptors as a slightly optimistic expression of their predatory nature. They even named their fan zone outside of the stadium Jurassic Park for a while.
The film also gave birth to what is sometimes called the Jurassic Park Generation, a whole age group who were inspired to go on to study paleontology at college, an achievement that Ross in Friends never quite managed.
Nightmare on Elm Street
In 1984 many people’s dreams were shattered forever by the arrival of Freddie Krueger in what was to be the first of many terrifying appearances over the next three decades. Robert Englund played the character, an evil child killer who comes back from the dead to attack the young people of Springwood in Ohio and murder them as they sleep.
We have to thank the director of the original film, Wes Craven, for the uniquely terrifying appearance of Krueger that has imprinted itself in the minds of so many and which fans still flock to see at Freddy’s Nightmares Conventions. The combination of the burnt, scarred face, the Edward Scissorhands-style weapons and the trademark hat have made Freddie a Halloween favorite ever since.
While the main legacy of the movie has been the endless sequels, graphic novels and other manifestations, you’ll find him in some more unusual places too. For example, fans of online casinos will be familiar with playing slots games featuring the notorious villain. To test out one of the best games in the business, visit 888 Casino and play their much-loved Nightmare on Elm Street themed online slots games to get your Freddy Krueger fill. The NOES game is insanely popular, as are many of the site’s other games that take movies as their inspiration.
The Big Lebowski
Proof that even low-budget movies have the power to leave a lasting legacy comes from this cult classic from the Coen Brother that was released in 1998. For anyone not familiar with the film it tells the story of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a weed-smoking, bowling-obsessed slacker who gets caught up in a fake kidnap plot launched by the wife of his namesake – “the Big Lebowski”.
For many people the film passed under the radar when it first came out and its $15 million budget meant it wasn’t heavily publicised. But late-night screenings started to be sold out and its reputation grew.
In 2002 the Lebowski Fest was first held in Louisville, Kentucky and similar events were subsequently launched all over the world. At the heart of them all is a bowling competition and the film’s stars, including the Dude Jeff Bridges have also been known to turn up.
For several years there was a store in downtown New York that sold memorabilia, but perhaps the weirdest legacy has been the naming of a new spider species found in Tanzania as Anelosimus biglebowski.
Sometimes a film comes along with such a simple, but original, premise that it immediately takes off with audiences. Admittedly, the concept of a time loop had been done before, but never quite in the same way as it was handled by writer Danny Rubin and director Harold Ramis. In the film it’s the hangdog performance of Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors who is condemned to repeat the same day over and over again that really makes it. Obviously, he’s ably supported by Andie MacDowell and the rest of the cast, but it’s Murray’s resignation to being trapped that really struck a chord with audiences.
Its legacy, for one thing, is that Groundhog Day of February 2nd never goes unnoticed, which it certainly did for most of us before the film’s release in 1993. But, it’s the fact that the expression “Groundhog Day” has entered the modern language that’s going to ensure its memory is going to last forever.
The Lion King
There couldn’t be a list of films that have left a legacy without including at least one Disney classic, and what a classic it is. As most people know, The Lion King is the studio’s reworking of Hamlet complete with dead fathers, evil uncles and advice being offered by ghosts. Add to this a killer soundtrack from Elton John and Tim Rice and there was no way that the film could ever fail. The score also plays a central part in the Disney music celebrations that are so popular today.
And, if the film was successful, the stage show version seems to have risen to even greater heights by being performed to sell-out audiences all around the world. Now, in keeping with Disney remaking its original animated features using advanced CGI, a whole new generation has been able to discover Simba and Nala’s story yet again.
So, as you can see, there are many ways for a film to leave a legacy, and the ones that do are sure to live on forever.