Monday, April 27, 2009

Top 20 Movies That Influenced My Life

Today I begin a series entitled Movies that influenced my life.

I will write about various movies that I have seen in my lifetime and how and why they impacted my life. Some impacted my life because they were thought provoking, some influenced my life because they were stunning in their originality, others because of where I was and who I was with when I saw them. All of them had an impact and continue to evoke strong feelings in me even today. This is not necessarily about the "greatest movies" from a critical perspective, rather it is about thoughts on movies that shaped me in terms of who I am, what I learned about myself or others and how I view this artistic form.

I start with number 20:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Most people know that this "spaghetti western" was one of the best character study tales ever done. Why did this movie have such an impact on me? The main reason was that this was one of a handful of movies that I saw with my Dad where we both walked out with one of those "Wow" moments. My Dad would often say to me, let's go to the movies. It was his way of spending time with me doing something that he knew my Mom would not probably enjoy. One of the earliest movies we ever saw together that I remember was the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. I couldn't believe it, I was maybe 10 or 11 years old and my Dad, I mean MY DAD, was taking me to a "grown up" picture.

I don't remember how many Bond flicks we saw together, but we saw a lot and we shared that great sense of adventure and just a wee bit of naughtiness, kind of like we were two men and girls were just not allowed into our clubhouse.

What makes TGTB&TU stand out in these primal male outings was the sheer scope of what Leone did. By the time we got to the infamous "Mexican" standoff at the end, you could feel every muscle movement of each of the characters, no matter how slight. When my Dad and I walked out at the end we were nearly exhausted from the tension. I remember clearly that the ride home we were both silent. We knew we had just witnessed something special and in our way, so much was said between us in the silence of the drive home.

Years later we would talk about that experience and express our opinions about what made the film such a technical triumph as I began to better understand film making and what went into a great film. Still, I can not think of or watch this film without being taken back to that time when I sat silent in the theatre next to the person who, in the way he reacted to what we saw on the screen would convey to me much of what it is to be a man.

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