A Good Movie Leaves An Indelible Mark
Movies have always had an impact on me. I get lost in them, think about them for days (and sometimes weeks) later, watch the good ones over and over. I appreciate the art form, the acting skills, the costumes, the cinematography.
Some movies mean more to you than others. They stick with you. Sometimes it's timing, sometimes it's, well, you just like them and you don't know why. You just do.
Here are five movies that have meant something to me...and why. Although there are countless more, when someone says "name your favorite movies," these are the ones I can rattle off without thinking. Not necessarily in order of preference, but interestingly enough, this is how they came to me as I was writing. Bear with me...
Gone With The Wind
I accepted the challenge to read the thickest book I had ever seen in the fifth grade. Then I went to see the longest movie I'd ever seen (then or since) on the big screen. It even had an intermission! I'm sure I have watched it two dozen times over the years and learned something new each time. It revolutionized film making in 1938 and still amazes me today.
As I'm writing this, my classic favorite is under fire. Like Atlanta burning in the movie, Atlanta (and Minneapolis and other cities across our country) are burning with the fire of equality and justice for our black brothers and sisters, whose GWTW appearances are cartoon-like portrayals of slaves in the American South. I am not proud of the dark side of our heritage and cringe with horror at the system that was thriving (in its time) at the expense of other humans. That being a given, please allow me to explain.
Scarlett O'Hara defied the expectations and traditional paths for a woman in her time. I wanted to do the same! I watched carefully as she used her God-given intelligence (she was not allowed the same education as men), charm and extraordinary beauty to go after what she really wanted. Those were the resources she had. Even when it was misguided or stepped on someone else or went against what society prescribed, she did it anyway. And it worked. She owned and ran a business, held her family together in crisis, and charged forward even when she didn't know what to do. She did not want to take a nap with the other girls...she wanted to know what was going on. She survived a war. She knew who she was and the audience did, too. How I wish I had her guts...and let's face it...her beauty and charm.
We've come a long way since the romantic side of the Old South was premiered so vividly and exquisitely on that big screen so many decades ago. Most would say not far enough. In the pure context of fiction, Margaret Mitchell's story-telling talent has stood the test of time. (It's worth noting that Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar that year for her role as "Mammy"...the first black actress to win the award and a significant breakthrough for the time.) I also contend that Rhett Butler's persistence and dashing good looks, combined with Scarlett's precociousness and grit, still deserve their place as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
Under the Tuscan Sun
Girl Power in another form and mid-life-crisis "life lessons" played out among the scenic landscapes of Tuscany. What could be better? Don't we all want to be/look like/live like Diane Lane? She wants it all, she changes her circumstances dramatically to try to get it, she thinks she can't have it (or doesn't deserve it), then she realizes it's been there all along. It just doesn't look like she thought it would. How's that for LIFE? And how God often answers our prayers.
An Officer and A Gentleman
Richard Gere. In a uniform. Enough said.
When Harry Met Sally
If anyone who came of age in the 1980's says they didn't adore Meg Ryan, they are lying. Our generation watched her acting career blossom from "Betsy" on our favorite soap opera to being one of the biggest movie stars of her time. The movie premise is, at its core, an attempt to answer the question, "Can men and women simply be friends?" My answer at the time -- and still -- is yes.
In my life, the theme of a guy best friend and the roller coaster of friendship vs dating vs friendship vs dating was more than reality. Don't read into that...I simply was the girl who always had a lot of close guy friends and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I do agree it's natural to wonder what a male friend might be like as a mate if you want to take the risk, so in the longevity of my single-ness, this story line was significantly relevant.
Plus, it's hands-down one of the funniest and most clever movies ever. Billy Crystal at his best! Its classic lines live on today and are the stuff of pop culture legend...and I still want whatever she's having.
Somewhere In Time
You've probably never heard of this movie. If you have, you love it, too. A young, dashing Christopher Reeve goes back in time and falls in love with a young, glamorous Jane Seymour in a spectacular setting -- a period Victorian hotel on Mackinaw Island (or anywhere, really). Time travel in fiction has always intrigued me, mostly because I can never quite figure it out. But I want to!! And is there anything more poignant, more frustrating, more tear-jerking than unrequited love? Beautiful, dreamy, and romantic. Worth two hours and a box of tissues. I've seen it so many times I cry as soon as the opening credits start to roll...and every time I hear Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Variation 18.
Last but absolutely not least. (I was actually tempted to watch it again the other night!!!) My middle schoolgirl self dived into this movie with joyful abandon! The quintessential combination of story elements...the bad boy, the good girl who is attracted to the bad boy, dating games, incredible sing-a-long music and...SCANDAL! (oh my is she saying she thinks she's pregnant?? blush blush) If you feel totally silly watching this movie (or watching it 20+ times), then you are totally getting it. OK...busted...obviously, I also own the soundtrack.
Honorable Mention...Big Fish
I would be remiss if I didn't give a nod to this movie since I bring it up in conversation a lot. This story is about the power of a story. Sometimes the actual facts don't matter...particularly if they get in the way. Is it true? Is it exact? Is the moral of the story dependent on the details? Does it even matter in the grand scheme of things?? These are the questions we ponder in Big Fish and beyond. The answers might save us an argument or two.
Suddenly I have a craving for popcorn.