Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Personally Significant Films

A few days ago charlieissocoollike, a YouTuber, posted a video about some of the films that are significant to him and some of the lessons that they've taught him. I thought it was a cool video concept that hasn't been done on YouTube, and as I've been floundering around without any blog post ideas, I decided to use his general idea. I tried to pick a wide variety of films that all have different meanings for me and encompass the general film categories of interest to me instead of just a list of favourites that all seem to have had the same influence.

I'm fully aware that this does not at all seem like a film that should be inspirational or memorable in any way, but it was the medium that first introduced me to the wonderful world of the Muppets and the truly comedic gold therein. I watched it when I was 7, became instantly obsessed, and have now watched it upward of 30 times. I could (and probably still can to some extent) quote the whole thing, including songs, from memory. It made me want to go on a grand high seas adventure and was the movie that kickstarted my love of pirate stories (which explains my later obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean) and punny humour. When I think back on my favourite things from childhood, this movie is among the top things on the list. If you've ever wanted a quick look at early elementary school Kate, this movie and the first two Spy Kids films are all you'll need to know.
I am a huge fan of 80s movies because they had such a different approach to plotlines than movies today. Although there are a few exceptions, the movies were dedicated to telling a story instead of being primarily carried along by long CGI sequences. Back to the Future is particularly significant to me because it was the first 80s movie that I saw that I loved instantly. It has a little bit of everything - action, drama, comedy, romance - and it has remained one of my favourite movies from the first time I saw it. The idea that a teenager my age could do something as big as Marty does is a concept not included in non-dystopian movies about teenagers these days, and it's really stuck with me.
Although I'd loved other big trilogies before this one, this was the first epic fantasy world I was thrown into and it has inspired my love of other well-made fantasy series since. No matter how cynical you are, the story of a small and insignificant person like Frodo undertaking such an overwhelmingly huge task and completing it is inspiring. My personal favourite character, though, is Aragorn. His evolution from an unassuming ranger into a humble king shows such great character development in a minor character that, though is not quite as incredible as Frodo's, is nonetheless remarkable.
The sheer number of movies based in the World War II period is astonishing, but this is the only one that takes the war from the perspective of an 8 year old son of a German commandant who lives next to the wall of a concentration camp. His complete ignorance of the reality of the world and his friendship with a young Jewish boy makes the way that this movie deals with Nazi Germany far different from any other approach. Any film that is successful at bringing across an outside perspective, particularly a child's point of view, is commendable, but this one in particular because of the dark subject matter.
I first saw part of Amélie in a film class I took when I was 13 and was instantly intrigued but I didn't go back and watch the entire film until I was 16 or 17. Amélie was the first film I saw that so focused on art and it completely pulled me into that niche of filmmaking. It made me aware of the importance of lighting and colours and cinematography and shot aspects, but most importantly, the way all these elements can combine with a simple plotline to create a visually stunning and captivating film. It's the movie that started my love of films like Hugo and The Fall, and if it weren't for Amélie I would probably still only watch action/adventure movies all the time.

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