I was having another conversation with a friend about how we've come to love film and I was thinking, you know, in every cinephile's life there are certain films that stand out. I'm not talking about in terms of films being a favorite or being the best but there are films which changed the way we viewed the world, our lives or hold special meaning to ourselves. For many cinephiles, there are films which made us love film or turn us to certain types of films or directors. Here's a key list of films which hold some special meaning to me as a cinephile growing up:
Dumbo (1941) - This is the first film I ever remember loving. I can distinctly remember when I was 3, 4, 5 years old of wearing out our then Betamax (yes, I'm old) player repeatedly playing the cassette copy we had until it was worn out every week. I now own the DVD and I recently saw it again and it holds up. If you don't get misty-eyed during the "Baby Mine" sequence, you better get that hole where your heart's supposed to be checked out.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) - I've liked and loved a lot of films in my childhood but I must say that Beauty and the Beast is a film that made me interested in the Oscars and the Academy Awards because I heard it's the first animated film nominated for Best Picture. That made me watch the Oscars and learn all about the categories awarded on the show and all the films nominated. Watching that Oscar show peaked my interest in the craft of making the film and of films in general.
Jurassic Park (1993) - I have seen a bunch of Steven Spielberg films before this: E.T., Jaws and the Indiana Jones movies, of course. But this is the first time I was actually paying attention and was aware of his work as a director. When I was watching the film, the audience was SCREAMING because it was so exciting. I, too, had my heart pounding on the excitement and amazing special effects. The fact that a director could manipulate the audience like that is what intrigued me in the art of directing and was made aware of the role the director has in film.
Pulp Fiction (1994) - This is quite frankly, the film that changed my life. Sure, I was very much interested in film before but I've never seen a film quite like this. I never knew film could be like this before I saw it. My mouth was wide open and amazed when I walked out. After the film cut to the credit: Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, I knew I wanted to work in this medium.
Fargo (1996) - If Pulp Fiction changed my life, this pretty much made it permanent that I'm gonna be a cinephile for life and working in film and the business. This film also made me appreciate the art of cinematography and of course the screenplay.
Throne of Blood (1958) - I have heard of the name Akira Kurosawa before but I never really took to seeing his films. I was quite hesitant to see subtitled films at this point in time. I've seen a few but nothing really blew me away. This one did. I saw it for a class in college. I've devoured Kurosawa since and of course this paved the way for me seeing more subtitled films.
Psycho (1960) - I don't know which film made me truly love watching older films. It's difficult to pinpoint. Was it Citizen Kane? Was it Casablanca? Was it Singin' in the Rain? Was it The Maltese Falcon? Maybe a combination of everything? Well, let's just say it's Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock's shocking horror thriller still holds up well today even in the age of gory slice-'em-and-dice-'em.
Play Time (1967) - This is the most recently seen film on this list. I blindbought it and saw it only a couple of years ago and since then, I made it my New Year's Eve/New Year's Day tradition to make this the first film I see during the New Year (or my last film I see on the old year, whatever). It's just that good. This is a film which, really, makes me, not only love film more but love life more. It's such a giddily, upbeat and positive film, in best sense of those words. It's a stunning piece of cinema yet also a very uplifting statement on the possibilities of life.