Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Benjamin Franklin's Oscar Opinions

I know, I know, Benjamin Franklin lived and died long before the age of film, but Franklin always thought about the future. Besides being a thinker and inventor, he was also very much involved in designing an image for the United States when it first became a country. Now, long after Franklin’s death, a staple in American culture and how the rest of the world sees us is our film industry. The Academy Awards recognizes the best of the best in the film industry. Since it the Oscars are only a few weeks away and Ben Franklin had a lot of opinions about subjects, I thought it would be interesting to pick Franklin’s brain and figure out what his opinions are on the ten films nominated for “Best Picture”.

· 127 Hours- Great story of survival through every possible obstacle. Inspired Franklin and wishes the troops during the American Revolution could have seen it so it could have inspired them to survive. Oh well, we still won.

· Black Swan- Is a good look at a mental breakdown, seen through the eyes of the victim. Good psychological thriller, but not Franklin’s cup of tea.

· The Fighter- Good story, but wonders why Lowell (a city only forty-five minutes away from Boston) could be so trashy. Boston is Franklin’s first home and it gives Boston a bad rap.

· Inception- He thinks this movie is interesting and he loves that it makes you think. He loves the twist ending and that it leads the viewers up to their interpretation. Likes that it prompts discussions and analysis.

· The Kids are Alright- Families are a lot smaller than in Franklin’s time, where families had many children. This film confuses but enlightens Franklin on different types of families. He is pleasantly surprised.

· The King’s Speech- Well made, but he can not support it because of his Revolution mentality. He chooses not to support England or anybody named King George (no matter if it’s III or VI)

· The Social Network- Is impressed by the script and was surprised. He assumed that it would be a simple story over the founding of a website, but it is actually a story of friendship, power, and betrayal. If he didn’t know any better, it sounded like a plot of a Shakespearean drama.

· Toy Story 3- Likes the animation and the story of friendship. Can relate because it was hard for him to leave home at first too. Franklin also wishes he invented talking toys before he passed away.

· True Grit- Thought the acting was good but thought it was anti-climatic. Didn’t like the way that the US was betrayed. Franklin likes the city and has no desire to move to the country after seeing this western.

· Winter’s Bone- He, like the rest of the county, has never heard of this movie.

Benjamin Franklin’s choice winner: Inception, because he loves to think and pay attention for over two and a half hours at a time. It’s on his daily schedule.


  1. Jefferson with his terrible lisp would have voted for King's Speech (A man who overcomes a speech impediment). But due to the British nature of the film, he might be initially turned off.
    Jefferson discontinued the tradition of delivering the state of the union to congress due to his terrible speech habits. FYI it wasn't until Wilson in the 1910's who reinstated the state of the union.

  2. I'm actually thinking The Social Network. Facebook is the only place where your vanity and character faults can come out simultaneously. Sounds exactly like the kind of thing he'd go for. Also, Zuckerberg is a self-made entrepreneur. Franklin and him would probably be close FB friends.

  3. I think Ben might have to pick Black Swan. Not only does the movie show the intense personal discipline that ballerina dancers put into their craft, but it stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis...

  4. Oh, he definitely would have loved Natalie and Mila. Let's not forget the man we're talking about here. I agree that his top choices would be The Social Network and Inception. If Franklin were around today I think he, Zuckerberg and Bill Gates would be the head members of the Junto.

    Weekend Update from SNL on 1/15/2011. Watch from about 1:30-2:45...actually quite applicable to our discussion in class. Also, hilarious.

  5. Another vote for The social Network. A great way to promote Franklin's self-made idea to the public. The man may loved the attention he could get from the web.

  6. I think that instead of showing Franklin all new movies right away, one could show him older ones so he can see the evolution of movies and the people/companies that make them. With the evolution maybe he would notice how the few become extremely more successful with how they perform. Which kinda goes along with the The Social Network movie. So I'll add my vote for that movie.

  7. I'm not sure if Franklin would allow himself to sit through a movie. After all "sloth makes all things difficult." Now if only there was a way for him to interact in a movie . . . being so industrious is rough!

  8. I think that Franklin would have appreciated the movie The Fighter. Although he would not have approved of the whole drug and crime scene, the determination and handwork that it took for the main star to fight his way back into the spotlight and into riches would have been smiled upon by Franklin. The Fighter shows a version of the American Dream in that hard work and perseverance gives you the opportunity to get to the top, no matter how far down you were.

  9. I love that you used Franklin's method of thinking to critique films of today! And let me tell you, I'm right there with him in saying Inception was one of the best - totally blew my mind. With so many twists and alternate realities, I wonder if Franklin would have even been able to keep up.

  10. Yes, funny, Stephanie.

    There's also this clip from The Simpsons. To clarify, before you click the link, the Simpsons folks are masters of keeping stuff off of youtube. That is why I could only find a clip in Spanish, which is fine, if you can translate it. It's a satire of Huck Finn, and the last thirty second of it pick up where SNL left off.

  11. I haven't looked at the link but I just wanted to say that I would also add my vote to social network, since facebook is the invention of this time period. And I agree that Old Benji and Mark would have been facebook friends. I feel like they both would have been people that update their status constantly about their opinions on everything haha

  12. This is a very clever post! I also think Benjamin would vote for The Social Network. Like Benjamin, Mark is a founder and inventor. They have a lot of similarities, and I could see them challenging one another. But I wonder...would Franklin approve of Facebook? I agree with Professor Fisher that Facebook allows you to express your vices and your virtues to the public, which Franklin would thrive in. However, as The Autobiography conveys, Franklin cared so much about how he presented himself to the public and focused a great deal on crafting a certain image of himself for his contemporaries and for history. So, I think he would be really cautious regarding what he posted on his Facebook.