There are many films that we have shared as an audience but go on to stick with us on a personal level throughout our lives. Something that when you see it parodied, intentionally or unintentionally, you instantly think of the original and you can probably remember where you were when you first saw it, how it made you feel back then and how it still impacts on you now. I thought I’d share some of my own personal moments with you and some anecdotal stories as to why they have lived long in the memory:
The Wizard of Oz (1939) Dir. Victor Fleming – those monkeys scare the bejeezus out of me.
Field of Dreams (1989) Dir. Phil Alden Robinson – I saw this not long after losing my granddad and it really made me think about how my dad must have been feeling after losing his dad. At the time it didn’t make me realise how hard it might feel if I were to lose my dad but now I’m a little older it certainly does. A beautiful film.
It (1990) Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace – I’m sure I’m not alone with this one but I feel like my experience was more harrowing. Sat in a family restaurant in a foreign country on holiday as a young child, the local TV station is playing the 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. I had probably already seen the image of Tim Curry as Pennywise before, he is so scary as the ultimate children’s friend but the ultimate killing machine. Evil hidden amongst happiness, much like the atmosphere at our table that evening as my parents got more angry shouting “Joni don’t look at it!” but with my eyes transfixed on the screen.
The sound was off but I got the gist of it. Cue hysteria and many sleepless nights. It’s a wonder it took this long to remake it.
Point Break (1991) Dir. Kathryn Bigelow – a very cool image from a bit of a damp squib of a film. I never knew of a bromance like Johnny and Bodhi’s so it all seemed a bit daft that the police cop wouldn’t just annihilate the bastard as he is running off. The same again as a point of reference in Hot Fuzz (2007), although Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman were much more convincing. But the imagery in Point Break is great, the live eyes poking through the plastic familiar face is very creepy, like a black-and-white horror movie where the eyes of an oil painting follow you around the room.
There’s someone in there…
Cocoon (1985)/Starman (1984)/Always (1989) – The films that made me realise my own mortality and how fragile life really is. They certainly gave me a new found respect for my elders. I’ve talked about this before but the emotion of longing and fearing the inevitable is very affecting. Inception (2010) played on it, the final scene in Titanic (1997) too, it’s very powerful cinema even if these are in the style of a crappy TV movie.
Turner & Hooch (1989) Dir. Roger Spottiswoode – SPOILER ALERT: the dog dies. You can screw Marley and Me, this was the original. Look at those eyes. Not Tom Hanks. Well, yeah, Tom Hanks too, I suppose…
Hook (1991) Dir. Stephen Spielberg – I’ve probably watched this a thousand times so there are many parts of the movie which I can make reference to on any given day (the mouth-watering imaginary food, “what about Smee?”, Peter’s annoying son and his face when he cries, “not the box!”, etc.) but now as father to 2 young children, the scene where Peter Pan, grown up to be a fat old businessman and not even able to reach out to take his children’s hands because he is overtaken by his fear of heights is one that really sticks in my mind.
Spielberg really is the master.
The Witches (1990) Dir. Nicolas Roeg – this should not be a children’s film. But it is classic Roald Dahl.
Brassed Off (1996) Dir. Mark Herman – Fuck Margaret Thatcher. Ewan McGregor is great. Pete Postelthwaite has a great name (so good you have to repeat it several times out-loud) and he is undoubtably a stellar actor. But the performance that stands out in this movie is that of Stephen Tompkinson and the dejected man with a mark around his neck after surviving an attempted suicide by hanging.
It is heart-wrenching but life-affirming.
Scrooged (1988) Dir. Richard Donner – “God bless us, everyone”. It gets me every time.
The Rescuers (1977) Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman, John Lounsbery and Art Stevens – I didn’t really know what an orphanage was until I saw this. Then I realised how lucky I was.
Big (1988) Dir. Penny Marshall – So I learnt a little a bit about adult relationships and it made me feel fuzzy inside.