“I’ll give it a thousand stars” – Dave’s system for film rating
Movie bloggers have never been able to agree on a standard system for rating. Some use a 4 star scale. Others follow the IMDb standard, going from 1 to 10. I’ve seen a handful of bloggers rating movies from 1-100. I think it takes some guts to do that. Personally I have no idea how I would distinguish a 67 star movie from a 68. I cold as well throw dices about it.
I’ve decided to rate movies from 1 to 5, using half point additions when I feel like it. It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought; it’s mostly a matter of habit. They used to give us grades at school from 1 to 5, and 1 to 5 is still the most common system in Sweden for rating anything from movies to how good a football player was in the match last night. It’s a scale that I intuitively understand, so I stick to it.
Then there are those who choose to rate the movies in numbers at all. I’ve seen some good arguments for this standpoint: that it’s oversimplifying and that it detracts attention from what you have to say about the movie. Too much focus is put on a number. You run the risk that the readers only will check out the star rating and then move on.
I respect this standpoint, shared by many a good critic, such as my favourite Mark Kermode. Maybe I too will stop ranking movies in numbers at some point in the future. But for now being I’ll keep doing it. One reason is that I find it helpful when other people rate movies in numbers, since it can help me read their text in a proper way. Critics can sometimes get awfully whiny, spending most of a text on pointing out problems in a movie, despite the fact that they actually love it, despite the flaws. A rating can help to straighten this out. I’ve also found that the demand of coming up with a number helps me in my thought process. It forces me to make up my mind about a movie and sort out my feelings.
We may argue over which rating system is best or weather to rate movies at all, but the question is if we haven’t all been beaten by the system invented by Dave Van Hallgren.
Dave doesn’t disclose his age, but considering how he talks, I assume he’s somewhere around four or five years old, and he’s already an experienced podcaster. He is the newest rising star on the film critic horizon. Together with his father, Sam Van Hallgren, he talks about classical movies in an additional segment to one of my favourite podcasts, Filmspotting. So far they’ve made four episodes, and to be honest Dave is stealing the show. If they’ll stop doing this, I’m pretty sure it’s because the ordinary crew of Filmspotting fear the competition for attention.
You can tell that Dave has developed a sophisticated taste for movies already at this early age. He’s very much into the classics and sprinkles his star ratings over them in the most generous way. In the latest show he must have broken a new record when it was time to give a grade to Singing in the Rain. After some thinking Dave landed on an astonishing thousand stars.
Adam Kempenaar, usually host of Filmspotting, was a guest at the father-son Van Hallgren podcast. Hearing about the thousand stars he got curious and asked Dave what he based his rating on. Which system did he use?
And Dave explained it. The system is that the movie will get the same amount of stars as the number of times he’d like to watch it. This means that a movie that you hated so much that you never want to see it again under any circumstances would get a 1 star rating. A movie that you could consider watching once a year for the rest of your life could get up to75-80 stars, depending on your age.
Following this, 1 000 stars is a very good grade indeed. As much as I love Singing in the Rain, I’m not sure I could stomach watching it that many times. But all respect to Dave for being up for it, and also: good on him for inviting is own rating system at this age.
If his father lets him keep going as a film critic, the sky is the limit for what he can accomplish, starting at this age.