I recently came across another blog called Sunset Boulevard who wrote an essay on why they loved cinema so much. After reading their piece, I was inspired to talk about my own love for film. Though mine differs from Sunset Boulevard’s, I wanted to show how my movie experience has gone through phases and evolved over time. But since I was a young kid, I have always had a love for film.
Being the youngest in my family had many perks, and one of them was sitting with the family and watching movies. When the whole family wanted to see a film, they would usually allow me to sit in and watch the films with them. I’m sure everyone has had that moment where they remember watching a movie when they were little, but years later you seem to understand a lot more, or wonder why you were able to watch the movie in the first place.
I always remember when my mom had to go out of town; it was finally a time when my dad could watch Turner Classic Movies at an early hour. We would grab our bowls of cereal and sit, watching the old movies on television. War films and Westerns mostly, but it was one of my fondest memories. One of the first films I remember seeing when I was about five was “All Quiet on the Western Front.” As the years passed, I couldn’t wrap my head around the whole film. It seemed like a blurry memory. However, there was a part that stuck in my head since the first time I watched it. It’s the very end of the film, and in an effort to not spoil the film for those who haven’t watched it, I won’t give too much away. But at the end of the film, a soldier dies. Years later I talked to my father about the way the ending seemed to scar me. His answer was, “That’s what anti-war movies are supposed to do.” Until that moment, my emotions for that film didn’t make sense. “All Quiet on the Western Front” set out to protest World War 1 at the time, and to cause the acts of war to scar the viewer. For a young five-year-old kid, it did just that. After 20 years, I have never forgotten that last scene.
My early childhood was only the beginning. When I was 10 years old I saw “The Mummy” for the first time. Not the 1932 one with Boris Karloff, but the 1999 one with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. I know that you are either saying, “That was a great movie,” or “Really? That was a horrible movie.” Whichever opinion is yours, know that this film made an impact on me. Besides the movie as a whole being a great adventure, the film came out right around the time when DVDs were becoming popular. I watched every single special feature and commentary on both “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns.” I never quite knew what went into making a film. The world of film seemed so foreign to me. Because I watched this film over and over again, I knew how much I truly loved film.
By the time I reached high school I was fairly immersed in film. I decided to take a class, which caused me to expose my mind to films such as Citizen Kane, Night of the Hunter, Annie Hall, and The Graduate. I learned how directors would subtly play with imagery on film and how the message of the film wasn’t all through the dialogue, but through the actions of the characters and the scenery surrounding them. By learning to analyze a film, I was able to appreciate a film in different ways. It was Night of the Hunter and Citizen Kane that I enjoyed most. I had a professor later in college that said he never really liked Citizen Kane. But to be honest, I couldn’t understand why. I loved that film. As for Night of the Hunter, it’s a suspenseful, psychologically terrifying film. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you go do it right now.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve broadened my love for watching films to different genres as well as different countries. I have an enormous appreciation for French film. Truffaut and Goddard are brilliant directors who took the French New Wave by storm. When I was in college I took an International film class that really introduced me to directors such as Bergman, Tarkovsky, and Renoir. These three directors that I just mentioned are, well, you have to be ready to watch their films. They can be emotionally exhausting at times.
But throughout my journey of watching different films, the one common denominator is my love for films that make an impression. For me, I believe that any film can make a mark on a person. The films I loved were not exclusively dramas, actions, or comedies. The films I loved were the ones that gripped me from the first time I watched it. Even then, I didn’t love some of my favorite films the moment I first watched them. But whether I love to watch movies just to have fun, or because I want to be enveloped in the characters’ life, film plays more of a part in my life than I thought. Film, for me, throughout these years has completed me, relating back to the memories I hold dear. I know that my journey in film is no way complete, but I hope to learn more as the years go by.