Our lives are shaped by moments and I am of the opinion that our character and personality is shaped as a result of our experiences. I can trace my love of film back to my first ever visit to the cinema. I was too young (around 3 years old) to remember the location of the cinema, but I can clearly remember being amazed, enthralled and terrified by the plight of a young wooden puppet who dreamed of becoming a real boy.
Little did I know at the time that I was watching a film close to 50 years old and one that to this day is regarded as one of Walt Disney’s absolute classics. It seems strange, that while as a child I fell in love with the cinema experience, I soon progressed to a love of more grown-up offerings and soon forgot about Pinocchio’s adventures. What I do remember is the atmosphere, the darkness, the booming sound and the images so big it felt like I was watching God’s television. It left me in awe.
You could say I’m an addict. As soon as I leave the cinema I’m anticipating the home Blu-ray release. When I was a small boy it was a VHS release. As a teen it was a DVD release. Technology changes but the love and affection remains the same. My first true love came in the form of Spielberg’s “Jaws” and sparked a lifelong fascination with sharks as well as this infatuation with film.
What Mr Spielberg also taught me by proxy with “Jaws” was that your imagination is a powerful tool, sometimes what you don’t see can have a more profound and exciting effect than what you can. For its two hour duration, I was gripped from the age of 6. While other kids were watching CITV I was held intensely by Robert Shaw’s intimidating yet empathetic portrayal of Quint. I was far too young to cotton on to the literary connection to Captain Ahab but his performance and those of Scheider and Dreyfuss were a massive influence on the type of film I grew to love over the years. A film widely regarded with being the first “blockbuster” taught me that character was key. Maybe in a small way Pinocchio’s encounter with the whale known as Monstro influenced my love of Quint and co’s tense battle with Spielberg’s rogue Great White Shark.
Repeat home viewing grew my love of many films, some still hold up today and held with incredible regard by critics and fans alike. Others, not so much. I am still considering reporting my Mother and Grandmother to the NSPCC for buying the atrocious “Mac and Me” for me instead of “E.T.” – in a way I’m lucky to be blessed with the exceptional taste I’ve developed and that I hope to showcase with this site, especially considering I was subjected to (and actually enjoyed) a film that is clinically proven to cause mild retardation in 87% of viewers.
Regardless of quality, to me cinema is an escape. Every film I watch is a welcome distraction from routine, stress and anything else that life can throw at me. I’m tempted to have a massive outpouring of slushy love notes to various movie moments but I’ll restrain myself. If I was to list my outstanding movie moments I’d lose your attention right now and bore the arse off you leaving you cursing my good name and vowing never to return. I’ll hopefully cover more of these moments in upcoming entries to keep everything to a manageable size.
I’ll close this off with a very recent moment that reminded me in a way that deep down brought me back to the childlike joy I felt when I first sat in that dark room, transfixed to the little wooden puppet or how my jaw dropped when I realised that Quint, Brody and Hooper were definitely going to “need a bigger boat”.
Recently I had the pleasure of watching Scorsese’s “Hugo”. It was a blind purchase (one of which I now curse myself for not going to watch it in the cinema) and one I was not particularly interested in, despite loving the majority of Scorsese’s work. The trailers made it look more of a kid’s film. I generally dislike stereotyping, yet in my jaded old age I had labelled the film before even watching it and only reluctantly made my purchase as a cheap way to test out the 3D capabilities of my new TV.
After the film the guilt hit me. Martin Scorsese had crafted a love letter to film making and the effect it can have on people with far more subtlety, passion and raw unchecked adulation than my clumsy ramblings could ever muster yet I had ignored it, and could have potentially missed this experience due to my own arrogance and stupid preconceptions.
The scene which really hit it home for me was the scene where Hugo takes Isabelle (who is forbidden to watch movies and therefore has never seen a film before) to the cinema to view an early 1930′s film. The two children gasp as the gentleman nearly falls from the building he’s scaling, they grin and laugh as he narrowly avoids being knocked from the ledge by an opened window, they stare on with absolute simple joy etched from their faces to their very core by what is unfolding in front of them. The wonder lasts until they are unceremoniously turfed out for sneaking in without paying by the owner of the cinema, their total experience bonding their friendship not only for purposes of plot but for what feels like for life.
Upon her return home Isabelle says only one thing to Hugo.
“Thank you, for the movie today. It was a gift.”
And that’s how I feel every single time.