Cult films, what does it mean and what makes a film cult? Cult has been around for quite some time and the term has grown throughout the years in which it has been known. Although it has been out since the 90’s, many people are unsure of what cult is and how it is defined. In her article Cult Film or Cinephilia by Any Other Name, Elena Gorfinkel, a Professor in Cinema Studies, addresses and argues how the contemporary definition of cult is defined through the merge of cult and cinephilia. In addition to Gorfinkel’s article, Dan Bentley-Baker, a literature and film studies teacher at Florida International University, provides a more detailed list of characteristics found in cult cinema in his article What Is Cult Cinema? In this essay, I will be discussing how Gorfinkel utilizes the history and the present accessibility of cult and cinephilia in order to explain the merge of these two terms, Gorfinkel and Baker’s characteristics that are found in cult films, and how Wes Anderson and his movie The Royal Tenenbaums follow the characteristics of cult films.
In “Cult Film or Cinephilia by Any Other Name, Gorfinkel informs her audience how the history of cult and cinephilia merge together in order to provide what today’s contemporary definition of cult is, also with the help with today’s digital age. Gorfinkel’s intended audiences are scholars who have degrees in Cinema and aspiring graduate students wanting to focus on cinema. This is determined through the use of her vast cinematic vocabulary and also due to the fact that this article was presented at a conference. Gorfinkel begins her article by asking her audience what they feel came first, the cinephile or the cultist and goes further into the purpose of her article by stating that cinephiles and cultists are connected through it’s history (Gorfinkel 30). Through this, she informs her audience that cinephila and cult are terms that are connected to each other, and work hand in hand in providing the definition for cult. After providing her purpose to her audience, she speaks about the 1960’s and the present day. In the 1960’s, underground films like Film Culture, Flaming Creatures, and Sins of the Fleshapoids took part in merging cult and cinephilia, while in the present day, the digital world has made it easier for accessibility to see how these terms go hand in hand (34). Gorfinkel states:
“Today, what video started—in it’s reconfiguration of conditions of films’ access, scarcity and its experience of evanescence—digital formats, DVD, Blu-ray, Netflixx, Youtube and the iPhone have considerably magnified. The Migration of film cultures, amateur film criticism and cinephile publics online, discussed in a recent issue of Cineaste, has made visible the linkages between cinephilia and cultism as shared forms of film love” (34).
By stating this, Gorfinkel is able to compare the past of cinephilia and cult to the present day. Although both are two completely different times, cultists and cinephiles...