He was talking about The Moment.
It happens to every cinephile.
There’s a moment when you realize that there’s more to movies than what s up there on the screen and there’s another one, when you realize that a film can be more than just popcorn entertainment.
I wish I could say that both instances were in the same film, but then I would have to make something up, and that would never do.
The first film that made me realize there was more going on than I knew, the idea of special effects, the idea of production design, model-work, matte paintings, musical scoring, locations and sets was The Empire Strikes Back.
It was just before I saw the movie, while I was living in CFB Borden that I got my first issue of the sci-fi classic magazine of Starlog!
Where had this magazine been my entire life? I read the entire issue cover to cover, learning stuff about the movie Alien as well, way before I ever got around to seeing it (I had a problem with horror movies for the longest time). I leafed through the pages, and for the first time ever, put up some different pictures up on my wall. Until that time the only things I had on my wall were two huge pull out posters I’d gotten from National Geographic magazines, one of the move, and the other detailing the Apollo missions.
My first Starlog, issue 34 just had everything I wanted to know about the movies and tv series that I loved. I couldn’t believe that there were all these things going on behind the story that was being shown on the screen.
I was hooked.
I had to know more.
For awhile, Starlog was my monthly fix, as soon as I could scrape together the money (read as plead for an allowance). I simply had to know how these films and stories were getting made and told.
It blew me away. I was 9 about to be 10, well aware that the movies and tv I watched were just stories, but hadn’t made the connective leap entirely to realize that they had to be made. That there was so much effort going on behind the scenes to get these moments to the screen. It boggled my young mind, and i just couldn’t stop thinking how cool that was.
So, while I still viewed movies as simply entertainment, and didn’t understand why people wanted to see movies that didn’t have chases, or action, or things blowing up, I was learning about the work that goes into making these movies. And each and every time it enhanced my viewing experience of the film.
It was a long time though before I started to realize that I got just as much enjoyment, and sometimes even more satisfaction from films that weren’t action movies. Movies that could have a message, or change the way you see the world, movies that could make you think, feel and cry.
A couple of movies flirted with the idea, the first one was Dances With Wolves. I lost count of how many times I saw that film in the theater. It simply struck something within me, perhaps it planted the seed.
It wasn’t quite enough to convert me off of things other than action movies. Two movies, two years apart, did that.
Here was the tale of an aged, widowed, gun for hire, a murderer of men, riding out on one last ride.
It was unlike any western I had seen until that time, and had a realism, to it, a reality, that I hadn’t seen before.
It showed consequences of actions, the impact of violence, the need for redemption, and the desire for something more from life. It took what you thought were the typical western stereotypes, the sheriff, the gunslinger, and grounded them, made them accessible and human.
I was stunned.
Two years later, it happened again, and settled in to stay this time.
I couldn’t believe how much a movie could get inside you, move you so emotionally. Don’t get me wrong, I cried at the end of E.T., I was a wreck the whole way through Schindler’s List, but that’s Spielberg, I watch everything he makes, because he’s Spielberg.
Shawshank was the first movie outside of a Spielberg film that I actively sought out, just from the word of mouth I’d been hearing.
And it lived up to every word that I had heard.
Here was a story about pain, suffering, and ultimately friendship and hope.
This movie opened up the world of film to me. I was working in a video store in the time, but had mainly stayed in the horror (having gotten over my fear of it – perhaps through the knowledge of how these movies were made), sci-fi, and action. Now I actively sought out different films, things I’d never thought to watch before, learning new directors, finding new actors.
These films showed me that there was more to movies than entertainment, there was the creativity behind the camera, there were more stories, there were films to be discovered from around the world, there were tales that I had never seen, and some that I’ve yet to see.
There’s a huge world of film out there, don’t confine yourself to one genre, you could be missing something amazing!
What films impacted you the most?
What films made you realize there was more to cinema than what you originally thought?