Inspired by ‘A Swedish Love Story’: Films That Bring Back Memories

A couple of days ago I saw for the first time a film by Roy Andersson called A Swedish Love Story. As I detailed in my review of the movie, the film brought back a pleasant memory from years ago, of sitting outside on the concrete steps leading up to my family’s holiday house, with a girl, talking for a long time about so many things as an almost-full moon looked down from the sky, the cold air bit our skin and I said out loud for perhaps the first time ever what I’d been thinking: “This moment is perfect.”

That’s a memory I still have from when I was sixteen, and the movie brought it back like thunder, as the face of the girl in the film uncannily resembled that of the girl I was with all those years ago. When the film was over and I allowed my mind to drift back to the memory again (it was ironic that the next film I watched, Elegy of a Voyage, was a transcendant meditation on memory by Aleksandr Sokurov) and I started thinking about other films that had brought back memories. Not memories I’d tried to block off necessarily, but ones I just hadn’t thought about in a while. They all came flooding in and I decided it would be best if I wrote a post about them. So here it is.

Evil Dead II (1987): This is a bit of a self-referential one, but when I recently rewatched the fantastic Evil Dead II I was reminded of the time I first saw it, with a group of mates on VHS. I was seventeen. I had seen the original The Evil Dead at age ten (and then again several years later), which I liked, so I was excited to see this one again, and with a group too! We laughed, we cheered, and the two girls that were with us looked like they were about to vomit. Good times.

The Blair Witch Project (1999): I haven’t seen this in a while, actually, but the last time I saw it it reminded me of when I was thirteen and my brother had just turned twelve and he was camping outside in the backyard in a tent Mum and Dad had bought him for his birthday. He and his friend Sam decided to camp out in the tent, but Sam and I came up with an idea for a prank wherein I would sneak around outside of the tent in the dead of night and make strange noises. My terrified brother would ask Sam if he’s hearing them too and Sam, in on the joke, would deny it completely. It was supposed to make my brother go mad though it didn’t last long because he quickly poked his head outside the tent and saw me. Ah well.

My Dinner with Andre (1980): For those of you who haven’t heard of this film, it is a two hour conversation between Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. That’s right, they talk for two hours, and that’s all they do. Some find it maddening. Most find it entrancing. I found it epic and brilliant. They talk about so many interesting things that you could listen forever, and I remembered while watching it so many long conversations I had had; with my parents, brother and sister, friends, girlfriends, and of course fellow bloggers. Long conversations I’ll treasure forever, even when they were about the most inane things. ALSO: Another film that reminded me of all the conversations I’ve had was Richard Linklater’s Waking Life.

The Decalogue, Episode One (1988): Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue, which as a whole is the most impressive cinematic work one filmmaker has ever achieved in such a short space of time, affected me very greatly with each episode. Simple human stories many of us can relate to, I found especially poignant episode one, which looks at the relationship between a father and son in a technology-driven world. Now I won’t spoil the film’s shocking plot twist, but it reminded me of a time when I was a teenager and what happens to the boy in this film happened to the father of a friend of mine. Spine-tingling event no-one sees coming.

The Up Documentaries: The first three of Michael Apted’s Up documentaries, 7 Up, 14 Up and 21 Up, reminded me mesmerizingly of how I was at each of those three ages: innocent, then confused, then indecisive. The Up Documentaries are fantastic looks at the way people age both emotionally and physically, and I can’t wait to see if I’m like any of the people in 28 Up when I get to that age.

Summer with Monika (1953): The memories this brought back were fairly recent ones I hadn’t forgotten at all. A few years’ back, for my 21st birthday, after the idiotically large party my parents threw like they have for every sibling, my girlfriend and I took a trip up to the Remarkables and stayed at a fairly expensive hotel that I still have no idea how we could afford for a few days. It was a wonderful trip away – we went to Queenstown and kept ourselves plenty busy with the tourist attractions, but for the most part we just stayed in at the hotel enjoying the solitude. It was a wonderful time I’ll never forget, and seeing Harriet Andersson and Lars Ekborg run away together to be alone in this fantastic Ingmar Bergman film brought it all swimming back to me.

A Brighter Summer Day (1991): I’ve seen this four-hour masterpiece (and I use that word with full confidence and assurance) twice, and both times it was a wonderfully nostalgic look at being a teenager without any of the clichés and with all of the heart. Edward Yang’s greatest film, and a cruelly underseen work of art, no decent DVD release that I know of exists of this film yet, and that saddens me greatly. It’s one of the best movies ever made, and it brought back to me so much of what it was like to be a teenager. The angst, the ecstasy, the sadness, the troubled confusion and the sense of underappreciated freedom. My teenage years were nowhere near as tragic as those depicted in this film, but A Brighter Summer Day captures accurately the feeling of being young.

There. Those are a few memories resurfaced by films. What do you think? What films have resurfaced your own long forgotten memories, or even just spoken to you deeply? Let me know in the comments.

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Posted on July 9, 2012, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Outstanding post, clearly describes how influential and indelible images from the silver screen can have on someone.

  2. I can relate to this. Every time I watch JURASSIC PARK, I am reminded of when my father hired it from the video store for me to watch for the first time.

    I used to live in Brisbane and sometimes during the summer we’d have some spectacular electrical storms. It was the first time I had seen both JURASSIC PARK films and I’ll never forget why. Outside, the atmosphere had that feel to it that only an Australian would understand. A storm was coming. It was getting darker and darker, and by about 3:00pm it was pretty much a lightning storm minus the rain and wind. Meanwhile, I’m sitting inside (probably way too close to the TV) watching Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore get pushed off a cliff.

    Every I rewatch JURASSIC PARK, all these years later, I can almost feel the electric atmosphere.

    • Wonderful story. I saw Jurassic Park when I was a kid as well but under much less memorable circumstances. It was just another video viewing, but it is a crazily mesmerizing film, especially if you’re a kid.

  3. I’ve been dying to see A Bright Summer Day. Edward Yang’s Yi Yi is among my all-time favorite films. It’s been OOP for the longest time; I hope Criterion gets their hands on it soon.

    This is the second time I’ve heard about the Up documentaries in the past two days. Sound intriguing.

    • A Brighter Summer Day and Yi Yi are both amazing films I gave top marks. But A Brighter Summer Day has to be Yang’s masterpiece. So much to love about it. I really hope Criterion release it.

      The Up documentaries are amazing. I watched all eight of them over eight weeks and felt like I was ageing with the people. Really wondrous experiments.

  4. Oh god damn it. I have been having a post just like this swimming around in my head for quite some time now, and I just havent gotten around to writing it. And now you beat me to it. Grr.

    That aside, this was a great post. Making us recall specific moments in our lives is one of the many joys of watching films, and you’ve provided many example sof just that here. Nice job!

    • Haha sorry, but you can still do yours! I hope you still do yours. I hope a lot of people do posts like these, even though they can be personal. It’s great to be able to share things that are personal through the world of film.

  5. Oh I love posts like these. Thanks so much for sharing so many memorable stories with us. I could go on forever about movies that remind me of a pleasant story in my life. My life is so synonymous with film… to pick one (or two, or three) seems impossible. Have to think on that.

    Great post here man.

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