SDG’s Very, Very Little Movie Glossary

Having spent the past 24 hours sick enough to necessitate a formal sick leave request (which never happens) while simultaneously discovering that I needed to replace my hot water heater (and then, somewhat miraculously, replacing said water heating unit), I’ll admit to feeling a bit drained.

Thankfully, my friend Steven Greydanus (who is known affectionately as SDG by his…well…pretty much everyone) had just the thing for my malaise: “SDG’s Very, Very Little Movie Glossary,” an homage to Roger Ebert’s beloved “Little Movie Glossary,” and one of those things that makes me immeasurably happier just by virtue of its existence.

No matter how much sickness and appliance failure might get me down, Steven’s teeny, tiny glossary is always there to save the day. (I’m not joking. This thing makes me very, very happy. Nothin’ little about it.)

Medieval Grunge

(See also: Darker-Than-Dark Ages)

In marked contrast to the brilliant Technicolor palette of Golden Age films like The Adventures of Robin Hood, contemporary Hollywood films with a medieval or fantasy setting often share a dismal aesthetic I call Medieval Grunge. It’s a “generically unpleasant” vision of “muddy roads, grubby villagers, rude wooden structures, chilly stone and iron, dark forests and generally pervasive earth tones. Have filmmakers never looked at any medieval art? They had pretty colors back then, I’m almost certain. (source)”

In addition to being hilarious — Yup, there’s more! — Steven’s glossary project has another intriguing benefit, which he articulates here:

Tagging reviews is potentially a form of meta-criticism in itself. …Sometimes I give a whimsical name to a commonplace phenomenon, such as Antisocial Aliens (i.e., hostile aliens, as opposed to the friendly, Spielbergian kind). Other times I create tags just for fun, like Bad Denzel (movies in which Denzel Washington plays a bad guy). And sometimes the tag describes the review rather than the movie, like Reviews in Verse (Written). But there are also tags that carry some kind of implicit commentary on the film, on elements or themes in the film…

Since I do not have the pleasure (or is it actually a cross?) of writing about most film releases, I don’t have quite as much opportunity for this sort of meta-criticism. But I do find that I can look back on the reviews I have written and identify common themes and elements far are more likely to capture my attention than others: idolatry, sin, suffering, and death. (Hmm. Maybe I’m still feeling the aftereffects of yesterday’s disease-laden repairs after all. But at least now I know the solution to my problem: More SDGVVLMGlossary!)

One final note: Go read “Reviews in Verse.” NOW!

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.


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