Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Filmography – A Life by Film

Following on from the film theme of my last blog, you may see a pattern emerging, but my next choice of words for the blog will be on something totally random I’m sure. Now you may think this is films I have been in, sadly no, I am not the new George Clooney or Chris Hemsworth but more correctly this is my favourite films of all time through my life. So this is my life of Film.

I was born in the eighties a wonderful time of film and as Jaws hit the big screen I was about six months old and had no idea that this guy called Spielberg was about to create what is now known as the summer block buster, nor that thirty odd years on I would be in the world of the two hundred million budget.

Being very young, you didn’t get to watch films, not that you would remember you had seen them and having a sister four years older I’m sure I had my fill of Care bears and My Little Pony films. But slightly later on, you got to watch your parents’ favourite films, or more like my Dads favourite films. He thankfully kept away from the black and white movies of before his time but kept to his generations loved films.

Back then (still in the eighties) the VHS tape was king and films would eventually make their way to terrestrial television and before you knew it you would start to collect films for viewing whenever you liked. One of the first films I remember seeing, as in truly remember seeing was Star Wars, my Dad obviously thought it was child friendly and technically it was, no blood but quite a bit of peril and violence, but it didn’t faze me. Truthfully I didn’t even notice the peril and violence I was too engrossed in the spaceships and lasers. You didn’t care about the acting you didn’t go ‘oh that ship looks fake’ because you didn’t care you just enjoyed the fact you were being entertained. You couldn’t go wrong with Star Wars for children and even now children would soak in the excitement of the film.

Not all the films I watched were sci-fi related, being subjected to my Dad’s viewing pleasures I couldn’t get away from watching many films with Clint Eastwood. I am not saying Dirty Harry films, he didn’t sit me down at ten and eleven and said right now this is a good kids film, what I mean is the westerns. Due to the magic of the VHS we had many westerns (not always a good thing). I sat through many but the first one and in my eyes the best was ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’, the final in a trilogy starring the man with no name (Eastwood). The gun slinging the cowboys (not in a YMCA way), who didn’t want to be a cowboy, with your gun strapped to your waist, pistol on standby and the ‘chink chink’ of your boots as you walked into a saloon. Of course this style of films didn’t portray the prostitution, you just had a few women in taverns with big ruffle style dresses on but at no point did you find out what they did in the tavern. So these are kind of child friendly, plus there was never any blood, I always found that odd, even as a kid.

There was also the films time had forgot, The Princess Bride, Krull, Santa Clause: The Movie and the list goes on, these were films made around the time I was born and were on every Christmas which some are even to this day. There was also another film, which is the reason I brought these others up, the second best Christmas film next to Die Hard is of course Gremlins, the 1984 cult hit which is still loved to this day. This was one of my first bought VHS films, I got it for Christmas in the late eighties, so the film was already quite old but was still available to buy. What my parents didn’t realise was, that compared to the TV version with loads cut out, I could now see the micro waved Gremlin explode, the killing of Mrs Deagle and other mini delights that the TV censors thought was wrong. So as a child I was in my element with this film. And even to this day I watch at least once a year and it still entertains me as much as it did then back on that Christmas Day. I have seen the second one, but choose to ignore it. Just a small note that my second VHS purchase was Masters of the Universe, which was the He-Man film, it is still funny to watch and every now and again I find it on some random TV channel.

Plus there was of course the little beauty of ‘Batteries not Included’ which if you haven’t seen is such a fantastic little sci-fi movie that you will enjoy the whole way through, it plays on Sci-Fi quite a bit. I remember having this in VHS vault and what a delight it was, especially when you’re a child.

As time went on the films got more exciting. I am of course referring to the Indiana Jones series, starting with the first and best ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I had no idea what had hit me when I saw this. The excitement, the fact that Han Solo was now even cooler by running around in tombs, he was the first Tomb Raider, before Lara Crofts breasts hit nerds screen around the world. He was the ultimate hero, even though slightly floored, as he did basically steal artefacts to sell to museums. But even with his thieving ways, he was still cool, and everyone wanted a hat and a whip and to be charging through jungles, running from giant boulders and in a lot of the films, taking on the Nazi’s single handed. All the others were already out and able to buy, by the time I saw them so when they came on TV they were added to the cupboard of wonder, it was great to have The Last Crusade and occasionally we did partake in The Temple of Doom (sounds wrong but I mean the film).

There is one other film I would like to give a mention to. The cult wonder that is ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ the action film that has comedy moments and also has magic. It wasn’t meant to be a kids film, but cut bits out and you have a great fun film. A few years back I bought an anniversary edition DVD and the film got even better once nothing was cut and bits were even added and the swearing was put back in. It is pure 80’s and it makes it a fantastic film. Last year there were rumours of a remake, they better not or I feel a boycott coming on. Write new films not destroy old cult classics (this is a question for a different blog).

I have mentioned it earlier, but the time had come for the action film and more importantly Die Hard, you may think I was maybe have been a bit too young for Die Hard, but remember this was TV in the early nineties, no swearing allowed. It was funny, action filled and even though much killing portrayed, you never saw a body, well not until you got older and watched the uncut version on Video or DVD, but haven’t got to DVD’s yet. So let’s continue.

We have leapt through my films of early childhood and what a variance it was and I have only mentioned the big films in my life, there were so many, from the early Hulk films to delights like ‘Silent Running’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ which my Dad eventually got to sit down and watch and even to this day I like 2010 more, sorry fans of hard-core sci-fi but it was more film like rather than a odyssey, even though the classic Good Morning Dave, from the slightly evil HAL 9000 was awesome. Plus the Lethal Weapon trilogy which we also had off the TV with no searing (odd to see the uncut version).

There was also of course the most loved film of all time, Jaws. I remember seeing Jaws for the first time at Christmas, people remember those days that this was the time all the good films were on TV, sadly this is not the case these days and you just get repeats and Christmas specials of reality TV shows. The film actually scared me, my first look at a horror film, especially when you are about eight or nine years old, I wasn’t wimpy but it did, even if they cut some bits out, but one bit they decided was okay was when the head falls into view from the hole in the side of the boat when Richard Dreyfuss is diving.

After I got to a slightly older age, you got the video rental shop and you were allowed to hire your own films. Even though you could only get up to your age, so it was hard to a 15 certificate and impossible to get an 18, but you’d try anyway. For fifteen certificates I could usually get my Dad to rent them as long as he approved of the film. But looking back I remember another type of rental shop, that wasn’t a shop. We had a video rental van that came round every week on Friday night. We would go out to his van and find films to watch. My sister and I would get one each because I didn’t want to watch what she did and my parents for one to watch once we went to bed. Not a naughty way just in a drama or crime thriller. This was great and I remember lots of bits of films but never what they were called, the downside of being young.

Everyone sees films as just something to pass the time but they are way of life in a way. A progression in life, like a rite of passage from child to teenager to adult where you then start to watch anything you like and the fun factor falls a bit. Who else remembers trying to sneak into an 18 film at the cinema when only fifteen, and usually getting in, depending what sort of person was at the ticket desk. I remember seeing Jurassic Park at the cinema (off the sneaking in now) for my birthday, I took a friend and my parents left us to it. I thought it was fantastic, being at the cinema on my own but also the film, and to this day I think it is a very good film (second one was rubbish though but the third was watchable). From this point it all changed, films became simple entertainment, no passages in site for any type of rite, the DVD and Home Cinema Systems hit the shelves and now you could pick up a film six months afterward it got to the cinema and the wonder and delight of owning a film fell apart. The same goes for the Blu-Ray, yes it looks great but now I get no joy from owning them, maybe this is because I can now buy what I like and own whatever I fancy, but age is the main point.
So this brings us massively to a close of my Life in Film, from the early days through to the present, which we crash straight into. So if you can use this information to give your children this sense of amazement when growing up with films they will thank you for it, I plan (when I have children) to slowly get them through the Harry Potter films as I would have loved these as a child more than I do now. And don’t let them watch the extras keep the magic real in films for as long as you can.