In the previous parts of this blog, I've spoken about my favourite books and growing up with gaming. This time, it's off to the cinema we go.
A LONG TIME AGO
One of the fondest memories of my childhood is going to see the 20th anniversary screening of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1997. I was 6 at the time with a big imagination so I thought this film was amazing, coming out of the viewing with my mind full of exciting adventures I could imagine within that universe. From then on, a stick I picked up on a forest walk was no longer a sword, but a lightsaber, and those reeds growing by the streams weren't dragons, they were storm troopers (which at the time I thought were robots. I realised my mistake 2 years later when The Phantom Menace came out).
There are multiple reasons why John Williams' scores for the Star Wars films are so iconic. For me, it's the fact that they fit so well, each theme perfectly capturing and elevating the portrayal of characters, places, and the big plot point: Hope.
I've enjoyed viewing every film in the franchise; had fun playing most of the video games, and reading some of the books and comics, but it's the soundtrack I'll come back to over and over again for a listen.
Going to the cinema to see films was not a common occurrence during my childhood. Instead, my aunt came round with a VHS which had been edited to remove the sad and scary moments, like the bit in The Witches where they take off their faces; a truly horrifying moment that I didn't end up experiencing until I was much older and was confused what my friends were on about until they showed it to me.... horrifying. Bambi, why was she so sad? I didn't know because the start of the film had been removed from my version. The same went for the ending of The Fox and the Hound which involves a big scary bear.... nope, not for me it didn't.
By the age of 9, the edits stopped coming in from my aunt and I was finally able to watch films uncut. Jurassic Park: The Lost World became my new favourite film closely followed by Toy Story. Yes, I did have the toys and yes, they were the same ones I used as props in the 2014 Huddersfield University wind band concert when I sang Randy Newman's You've Got A Friend In Me.
THE ONE RING
It's 2001. I'm 11 years old. One of the greatest films ever is released. Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring. For almost 3 hours, all 4 of us are sat there in the cinema. My brother looks bored, my mum has fallen asleep, my dad has his usual frown but that could mean anything, and I am transfixed, mouth open, drinking everything I'm seeing in. It. Was. Amazing!
Fast forward a week later, I've started collecting Lord Of The Rings Warhammer (I had no interest in Warhammer until I found out there was a LOTR set), I've bought the video game (which is rubbish and doesn't even follow the film), and I bought the soundtrack on CD, listening to it on repeat. This was the first time I had bought a film's soundtrack, it had made that much of an impression on me.
Seeing the sequels in 2002 and 2003 only bolstered my enthusiasm for the franchise, meaning I've seen and played any form of media related to Middle-Earth released since. Any time I hear Howard Shore's fantastic soundtracks, I still remember the first time I heard the Ring's theme in the opening moments of The Fellowship Of The Ring at the cinema in 2001.
Over the years, I've watched the evolution of superhero movies that started with the X-men franchise, the 2 terrible Fantastic Four films and the Tobey Maguire Spider-man. Finally, in 2008, superhero films managed to create a reliable and fun formula in the brilliant Ironman. With the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I was hooked, watching each new release in the cinema with friends and ultimately purchasing the MCU box sets. Typically, Ragnarok, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man are my favourites because of the humour interwoven into the action.
For about 5 years, during my time at university, I went through a stage where, when I had the time to sit in front of the telly, I ended up putting a TV show on, simply for the shorter length, which is ironic considering I would then watch about 5 or 6 in a row, ultimately watching for longer than the length of an average film.
TV shows I really enjoyed watching include Arrested Development with it's silly but often clever humour; The I.T. Crowd for Richard Ayoade's hilarious awkwardness; Sherlock, Dexter, and The Night Manager for their intense drama; Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. mostly due to the MCU link; Dollhouse, Firefly, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer because I really enjoyed the way Joss Whedon created dynamic characters; The Crown simply because it's drama TV gold, where every actor is amazing in their role; and Fleabag for the superior wit of Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
When I did watch the occasional film during those busy years at university, it would most often be a comedy showing on TV in the evening, of which some of my favourites over the years have included Anchorman, Ghostbusters, Liar Liar, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and Mrs Doubtfire.
ONE HIT WONDERS
There have, however, been a few films out there where the first viewing is enough and has left me moved, has opened my mind a little, or made me appreciate the small things in life. These films include Gladiator, Bohemian Rhapsody, Shawshank Redemption, Interstellar, A Star Is Born, and Joker. Each one has left me feeling a little different after watching, and in the latter's case, I can't say that the film was enjoyable but I can say that I appreciated it's quality and message.
Thanks for reading! Are there any films that left a lasting impression on you?
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