Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Power of Movies, Even Crappy Ones

Salon has an essay, or slideshow, summarizing some filmmakers' memorable moments at the movies, in the audience. At first I was stumped.

I'm sad to say that this essay chronicles a really sorry set of movie experiences. The letter writers in this comments section are better and more moving. Dances with Wolves??? Bill and Ted? (Actually, I know I'm wrong on this . . .)

Surely, to be a moving movie experience, the movie itself must have some semblance of quality — of some kind . . . any kind. All with moments, The Moments, that say, "Remember this. . . ."

I saw Lawrence of Arabia on a 75mm screen in Boston -- jaw dropping, and I had already seen the film several times, but never appreciated the monumental cinematography until I saw it on a big screen.

Star Wars — saw it at age 12 and knowing from the first commercial that I saw (with R2D2 zapped and falling forward) that it was going to be great, something the studio was too stupid and money-grubbing to know. We had to travel 20 miles to see it because it was expected to fail at the box office.

Alien. The first film that truly terrified me.

Terms of Endearment. Not a great film, so maybe my opening claim is just wrong. I was with a girl I liked a lot. When the nurse wakes Jeff Daniels to say "She's gone" I was shocked: "What?" — as Tsar Nicholas supposedly on hearing that he and his family were to be executed.

Au Revoir les Enfants, Celebration (Festen), Wild Strawberries, The Searchers, Unforgiven, Crimes and Misdemeanor, Full Metal Jacket, Spartacus — my list is long. Each with the moments, The Moment, that says, "Now. . . . Remember this . . . ."
          Till the Spinner of the Years
          Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.
This is the moment.
The power of movies.