Each year we see so many films. Some we hate, some we love at the time and then forget after a couple of months, and some (we’re convinced) are brilliant films that will stay with us forever. There are a lot of reasons that some films stick with us and some don’t, but of course a lot of it has to do with where you are in your life. Everyone has a couple of films in their viewing history that they’re pretty embarrassed to have once loved — it’s embarrassing to realize that something can be profoundly significant to us one year and foolish the next. Maybe because we like to think of our taste as more stable (and better) than it ever really is.
Conversely I’m sure all of us have had the experience of seeing a film, not really liking it all that much, then some years later seeing it again and realizing that it’s a FANTASTIC film, that just seeing it had changed us in ways we didn’t notice and left ideas and images in our heads that became part of our imagination’s vocabulary. It’s a confusing but exhilarating thing.
This list is personal, and the films in it (much as I enjoy them) aren’t as interesting as the exercise has been of looking back and remembering the films I saw each year, figuring out which ones have ultimately had the greatest impact on my life. Look back over your life — especially the movies you only half remember from early childhood. What films were the favorites? What films frightened you? What films helped you to learn who you were and weren’t? What films had sequences that made it into your dreams for years? What film showed you the person you wanted to marry? Or, that you didn’t want to marry anyone. :) What films showed you where and how you wanted to live, and what you wanted to avoid? What films have been the building blocks in your life?
I’m terribly curious. Write me your list in the comment section — try to be as complete as possible, choose one film per year, and list each film in the year you first saw it. Go back to the first year you remember seeing a film — it doesn’t matter to me if you can’t remember the whole thing, two of the films that touched me the most I remembered only isolated scenes from for years — the important thing is that the film made a mark.
My list runs from 1989 to 2010, with two omissions, both animated films that the site doesn’t seem to recognize. The entry for 2000 should be “Donald in Mathmagic Land” and the entry for 1991 should be Jiri Trnka’s “The Emperor and the Nightingale”, which I spent almost twenty years tracking down based on a few fragmented memories of violin music and trippy agfa color. So, the timeline for the list below is as follows: B&B 1989, Henry 1990 (or maybe early ‘91, don’t recall exactly, but then, I was 5), Gandhi 1992, the Catwoman movie (as I called it) 1993, Planet of the Apes (my first true dystopia?) 1994, Shanghai Triad (first Gong Li film) 1995, La Cage 1996, Casablanca (2 in the morning valentine’s day) 1997, rocky horror (in a double feature with Dr. Strangelove) 1998, the Ninth Configuration (original vhs version) 1999, Some like it hot 2001, Bedazzled 2002, Big Night (by chance and with french subtitles on t.v.) 2003, Dr. Caligari 2004 (first silent feature length), Wittgenstein (2005), streetcar named desire (in a cinema) 2006, shortbus (in a cinema) 2007, le mani sulla citta 2008, pasolini un delitto italiano 2009, orlando 2010.Read less