If you love movies, chances are you have had them at least once. Probably many times. I’m talking about an experience with a film, whether in the cinema or at home, that has affected you so deeply, so impressively, that you’ll never forget it. It could be something as simple as a moment, a single second of a movie that touched you deeply in a way you can’t describe, or it could be the experience of a whole film. What are some of your unforgettable cinematic experiences? I mean, truly unforgettable. The best of the best. The ones that will stay with you forever.
I shall list a few cinematic experiences that truly changed me and the way I loved the movies, in no particular order:
1: Six years ago. Surfing the video rental store for something to watch. My eyes fall on a movie. I pick it up, read it, and decide to take it home. I watch Paris, Texas, and at the end I rush round to a mate’s house to give him the video. I share this movie with everyone. In particular, I share my experience of having my eyes glued to the screen during the film’s incredible climax, a monologue by Harry Dean Stanton that brought me to tears. Not the moment I fell in love with the cinema, but the moment my appreciation for it turned to something more.
2: More than a year ago. I check my email inbox and discover a message from a good friend of mine, Stephen. I open it and it reads: “That movie I told you about, it’s on Google Video. The quality’s real shit, but there’s no DVD release so it’ll have to do. I know it’s long, but just watch it, please.” About three nights later, I settle down to watch a low-quality but acceptable version of a film called A Brighter Summer Day. I watch the whole 238 minutes in one night. The film affects me so much, I don’t watch another movie for nearly a week. I needed time to think about it, for it to be the only film in my head. When I rewatched it recently in March, the incredible effect was still there.
3: March 3rd of this year. I drive round to a mate’s house. Many months earlier he finished building a home theatre in his house, and we had already had several movie nights, viewing such classics as Battleship Potemkin and 2001: A Space Odyssey on his big screen in a darkened room. With a recently purchased DVD of Satantango in my hand, I pull up at his house at around 5pm after he invited me to view the film in his theatre room on this night. At around six, I start watching the seven hour film in one completely unbroken, uninterrupted sitting, completely alone and surrounded by darkness, my only comfort the film. I finish at 1pm, and after sitting in my seat for another 30 minutes in stunned silence, I take my DVD, leave the house quietly, and drive home. I get into bed and try to go to sleep. With the sound of distant bells echoing in my head, I silently slip into unconsciousness.
4: December 16th, 2011. I settle down on my couch to watch a film I’d found on YouTube. I put my headphones on, close the curtains and put the movie on full screen. Ten minutes into the movie, my mouth is wide open in complete shock. An hour into the movie, my entire body is frozen. Nothing would be able to make me remove my eyes from the screen. After 139 minutes, the movie finishes, and I discover startlingly that there are tears running down my face. I wipe them, but they are stubbornly replaced by more. The whole day I can’t think of anything but the film, how incredible it was. I tell everyone about it, my girlfriend, my friends, my followers on Twitter, and of course, I write a glowing review on my blog, but I still feel like I haven’t said properly how fucking amazing the film was. Every subsequent day I’m thinking about it. I watch it again twice before the New Year, another time in January and once in February, until finally I buy it in March for $15 on Amazon UK. I pick up my DVD of it and watch it again, late at night, and while I don’t cry as passionately as I did the first time, I’m still struck by waves of shockingly strong, heavy emotion. It recurs every time I watch the film, and I watch it regularly. It will always be my favourite film of all time. You know what it is, right? It’s at the top of every page on this blog.
There. Those are four of my most strongest, unforgettable cinematic experiences. Now, it’s time for you to name some of yours. Whether in a blog post or just in a comment, let me know what movies and experiences have shaped the way you look at cinema.