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Indie Films That Influenced Pop Culture

Thanks to a new critical chorus of voices, film aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes have been criticized for harming film culture by putting clouds over movies with negative ratings, and discouraging people from watching them. It used to be that only film critics had a voice when it came to lambasting or praising a film. Nowadays, however, anyone can get online and throw in their two cents thanks to the ease with which you can set up a website or blog.

This is significant when one looks at the giant influence films have on popular culture. Either they’re channeling the zeitgeist, using topical events or political landscapes to create a story, or they’re actually changing it (the way Jaws helped create the Blockbuster phenomenon as well as the birth of multiplexes for example). These films can actually change the way people think, and the way they perceive the world, other cultures and certain ideas. It’s therefore a powerful and impressive thing to be able to craft something that has this potential… and it’s also expensive.

But for some people, making films is something that shouldn’t be constrained by something as unimportant as money. Without giant production studios behind them, indie filmmakers have been telling honest stories in their own way, and some of those have stood the test of time. Below we’ll look at some of the most influential indie films to date.


The reigning king when it comes to loose structure and flowing dialogue, Richard Linklater first brought his style to the forefront with Slacker. Almost completely plotless, the $23000 film follows the life of a group of twenty-something misfits in Austin, Texas. The film discusses issues such as social stratification, terrorism, conspiracy theories, joblessness and the government, and the way they affect the characters. It’s this content and the style of the film itself that went on to influence indie filmmaking and the zeitgeist of the 90s. It also popularized the use of the word “slacker” and the apathy and aimlessness it conveyed.



Another dialogue-heavy masterpiece, Clerks was the debut film of cult icon Kevin Smith. Chronicling the lives of two convenience store workers and made on a budget of $27000, Clerks is noted for the realism inherent in the dialogue between characters and went on to achieve a cult following. Spawning several sequels and recurring characters (and one bizarre TV pilot that never got off the ground), Clerks is also notable for its frequent references to pop culture and Star Wars.


Pulp Fiction

Perhaps one of the most classic films in modern cinema, Quentin Tarantino’s inimitable crime drama dazzled audiences with its memorable characters, razor sharp dialogue, non-linear storytelling and moments of unrestrained brutality and violence. The effect of Pulp Fiction was immediate and profound. It was a cultural phenomenon that heralded in a new era of cinema due to its nontraditional formats, unusual storyline and unmitigated violence. It’s responsible for reviving several genres including noir and gangster films, bringing about shows such as The Sopranos.

And then there’s the soundtrack, an eclectic mix of surf music and rock n roll, which culminates with everything to deliver one of the most influential films of the decade, if not at all time.


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