Like deciding on a favorite movie this is difficult for the true cinephile but I’d love to hear what was the most memorable for you.
One of my own favorite experiences was seeing “Rear Window” in the theater for the first time. It wasn’t the picture or the sound or the size that knocked me out. It was the end of the film when Jimmy Stewart uses flash bulbs to blind Thorwald.
I had seen the film countless times on television and small screens and the scene was always interesting but not particularly terrifying. However seeing in the completely dark theater after my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, when that first flash bulb goes I was blinded in the same way that Thorwald was. This might seem like a no-brainer but I was floored.
Hitchcock had created an effect that actually affected me physically. I couldn’t believe the level of craftsmanship and understanding that created such a small but dynamic effect. I’ve never felt that in the cinema before or since.
When I was 8 or 9 and I saw the re-release (1997) of all the Star Wars films in the theater. Few films can capture your imagination on that scale when you are young.
Watching 2001 in Cinerama. Amazing. Especially if you’re inebriated in any way
At a young age I remember when The Nightmare Before Christmas came out. That was 1993 so I was 7. I remember having the Jack Skelington doll before I had seen the movie and I took it with me when I fist went to see it.
About four or five years ago I went to see Hitchcock’s Shadow of A Doubt. I just like to watch old films in a theatre because it makes me feel like I’m watching them for the first time in the year they are released.
Watching Sweet Movie while you’re so tired you start drifting off during the movie. I’m sure being drunk/high/both during would have had the same effect.
Walking out of New York’s FILM FORUM after a screening of Last Year at Marienbad and walking right up to the box office and buying a ticket for the next showtime that was already being seated. I had known nothing about the movie and had never had an urgency to figure out what I had just seen before.
Probably when I saw Gus Van Sant’s film Elephant
What made it memorable simon?
I saw Play Time in the theater this summer. As far as I know that’s sort of a rare opportunity. I apparently have to start a new post to mention another one, so I’ll be right back.
Seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” for the first time on the AFI Silver Theater’s 70mm screen after a truly fantastic Chinese buffet. Really just a fantastic memory.
Okay, I’m back now.
I went on a first date to see Dancer in the Dark. That was a mistake. I cried and cried, but I was trying desperately to hide it. I’m not some tough macho guy who’s afraid to let a girl know he cries or whatever, but that movie fucked me up something awful and I had to fight back sobbing noises the entire time. That’s a really awkward thing to deal with on a first date.
Afterwards we didn’t much feel like doing anything else so we said goodbye and went to our separate homes. Woo!
If someone had described Elephant to me I would have said that it sounds pretty boring, but when I saw it I realized that I liked films that most of my friends would describe as boring. It opened my eyes to art house films.
I have seen films that have thrilled, educated, transported, enlivened, enlightened, excited, and moved me considerably. But, for the sheer JOY of the moviegoing experience that stays with me still, albeit now as nostalgia, my answer is …
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at age 7.
It is hard to pick just one, but…
Seeing a non-restored print of Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc” in Italy.
I had only seen the film via Criterion’s DVD, with soundtrack. I convinced my entire family to come out to a late night screening of it. Before the movie was an unsubtitled documentary on nun’s in an Italian convent. We thought it would be a short, but it turned out to be an (extremely boring) feature. Every one was antsy. It seemed like it would never end. Then was “Joan of Arc” started, all the intertitles were in French with italian subtitles. It was completely silent. The rest of my family left in the first 15 minutes, but I stayed.
With no intelligible intertitles or soundtrack, the film became entirely about image. At first I felt disconnected from it, but slowly I sunk into this way of viewing it. Every camera movement and cut became a revelation. Each shot felt like an entire film in and of itself. By the end of the film I was as entirely involved, both emotionally and intellectually, as I had been during previous viewings; yet the experience was entirely different.
I doubt I will ever forget that screening.
Ha ha Funny story David !
Easy for me. I walked into Mulholland Dr. when I was visiting New Orleans for the first time after having a few Bourbon Street insanely-strong drinks. I’m a huge Lynch fan, but had never seen any of his films on the big screen before this. It started, without warning, with some bizarre Bjork video, which I thought was the start of the movie. I have never been so transfixed in a movie theater while watching a film. One specific thing that I noticed, perhaps for the first time, was the overpowering impact that sound/music can have on a film experience. This particular theater had an exceptional sound system, and unlike most modern theaters, the sound was cranked up (I find most movies are shown with the volume way too low to fully appreciate the sounds, which are 50% of the overall experience in my opinion). I remember walking out literally disoriented. I may have stumbled out of the theater, thought it was certainly not due to the alcohol, as I was sober by that point. To this day, no movie-going experience has equaled Mulholland Dr.
PS — I went again to see it in a theater in NJ a few weeks later. Both the picture quality and especially the sound were vastly inferior in this theater, and the experience was not even close to my N.O. experience. I’m sure the fact that I had seen the movie once already also played a role, but the bigger factor was the older, inferior theater itself.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at aged 4, circa 1976, At the now-defunct Disney Cinema in London. Memorable for it being my first ever trip to the cinema. I was awe struck by the size of the auditorium, the long set of stair cases down to the huge basement, decked out in the Disney brand style. I think the film was in Cinemascope and, for its time, the special effects captured my childlike wonderment and sense of adventure.It became the Lumiere Cinema not long after and is now built over with a hotel in its place. Another great cinema lost to history.
seeing the very first studio financed “smell-o-vision” film ‘scent of mystery’ with the director jack cardiff was fairly memorable. jack cardiff is a major hero of mine (he shot a lot of the powell and pressburger films as DOP and is a bit of a legend).
check out the wiki page for it, its a fascinating concept -
When I was 13 I heard an advertisement on the radio that a local theater was offering a free coconut to the first 100 people who came to see the premier screening of a new comedy film called “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” I didn’t know anything about the Pythons at that time and I had no idea what the (now obvious) connection was between coconuts and this movie but I always liked the taste of coconut and the movie seemed like it would be funny so I decided to go. My mom dropped me off at the theater and I went in by myself since none of my friends were interested or available that day. Of course I had never seen anything like it – the mock-Norwegian titles threw me off at first, then the weirdness started from right off the bat and I was astonished. The Black Knight seen blew my hair back – I had never seen so much blood on screen and wasn’t sure that it was OK to laugh (it was a bit disturbing to me, actually.) And the ending with the policeman knocking the camera over and going straight to the white screen. I sat there thinking that the film broke and waited for a proper conclusion, until the house lights went up and I realized it was time to leave. I’ve seen a lot of good movies since then of course but can’t say that I’ve ever had my boundaries of what a movie could be expanded as radically as they were that afternoon.
My mother comes downstairs and asks me if I’d like to go see a drive-in movie with her. I remember the book sitting on her bedside table with the one sheet from the film.
I’m sitting on the swing set at the drive in and the movie starts; typical 1970’s advertisements for popcorn, etc. I’m doing my thing. And then the film starts. The camera is gliding underwater. The music going.
I run as fast as I can back to the car (A VW Volkswagen) and watch in complete awe.
I was forever hooked on movies.
The first time I saw Lawrence of Arabia in a theatre on 70mm.
It was on the biggest screen in town, and I sat front row center.
The screen was old fashioned so the screen bent in a semicircle. If I moved my neck as far to the right or the left as it could go I still couldn’t see anything but the screen. It was like being in the desert.
The day I saw “Nashville” for the first time: summer of 1975, St. Petersburg, Fla. Then I sat through it again. Then I never shut up about it for the next year.
A space Odyssee during our international film festival in 80 mm. The huge screen experience, the music, the room was full, but the silence was incredible, a great movie theatre experience. Until then I only saw it on television screen.
Lost Highway on opening night in my hometown. There was only about twenty people there and I had gone by myself since all my other friends wanted to see Jerry Maguire. It really blew me away and everone at the screening started to talk outside the theater afterwards, something which has never happened to me before or ever since.
Taking my son to his first movie, watching as he followed the light from the projection booth to the screen, realizing that – whatever else I would do wrong as a parent – I got it beautifully right for one day. He’d do well not to make me his role model on many other things, but he’s discerning enough to pick up on my love of film. In a job that’s trusted to amateurs, I’ll take those moments any day.
Ok this is really tough, but I have to go with seeing Irreversible for the first time. I don’t read reviews or anything about a film till I see it, so I only heard a few rumblings about how it was shocking. I had no idea what I was in for, and about half the people walked out before the film ended. I didn’t notice any of that while watching the film, I become deeply immersed in the story. That film shook me to the core, it was an awe inspiring experience. That film put on such an emotional roller coaster, that when it was over I was still staring at the screen. I immediately bought a ticket for the very next showing and I saw it eight times in the theater(not that day, all together)
Seeing The Conformist at the old Studio theater in Ferndale Michigan on it’s initial release. I was so blown away that I saw it 3 more times during it’s run. It’s too bad this film has never had a good transfer on DVD. Cries out for a Blu Ray release.
I’m tempted to say that my first theatre going experience was the most affecting. Being the first at all … it’s sort of a given.
It was the early 90s, I was probably about three years old or so and my dad took me to a screening of Disney’s original 101 Dalmatians. I got so scared and spent the entire movie running in and out of the theatre battling through tears and shock. I eventually got through it … and matinees became a weekly staple for my dad and me. A tad sentimental but it’s the truth.
Without question, my most memorable film-going experience was getting to see the Bondarchuk War and Peace at the SIFF cinema last winter. They showed the entire seven-hours-or-so movie, with intermissions and a break for dinner. It was one of the greatest film experiences of my life.
The first film I went to freshman year of film school was LOST IN TRANSLATION. I had heard absolutely nothing about the film, had no idea who directed it, who was in it, or even a one-line premise. I was absolutely floored. I went back three more times to see it. I was so amazed to see a very simple film could leave such an impression on me. I’ve had great fun at the movies and even left the theater with so much to ponder I can’t hardly sleep that evening…but that first viewing of Lost In Translation is probably the first time I had seen a modern film in the theater that made me believe that a new storm of brilliant films/filmmakers was coming (and I believe it still is, but not quite as quickly as I imagined).
The Hari Krishna’s used to run a small cinema in Kings Cross Sydney, showing arty or foreign films, and you sat on bean bags.
You could get a great Indian rice dish pre show and then watch any of a number of exotic films in ridiculous comfort. It was there I first saw Renoir’s ‘Le Regle De Jeu’ . Doesn’t get any better than that.