We asked our contributors to reminisce about the films that, in some way, changed their life.
Jaws IV: The Revenge
There is a lot wrong with the final instalment of the Jaws franchise and you do not need a degree from Nottingham to realise this. As my earliest memory of cinema it has to be my most influential for it had everything. A hungry monster shark, Michael Caine, a genuinely standout performance by Lorraine Gary, and a very slight (but oh so very sumptuous) Freudian subtext, which comes to explosive fruition when the shark quite pathetically but very symbolically impales itself upon the very boat he is attacking. The result is a penetrative probing of our very human nature as we ask ourselves – are we really any better than a giant killer shark with a limited conscience?
Having a brother that is seven years older than you, I immediately learnt from birth that I had no say in the most important things in life; the biggest bedroom, the front seat of Dad’s car, and the TV. So whilst any normal child watches Care Bears or Little Women growing up, I got Fight Club. This didn’t quite change my life for the better. Not saying that it turned me into a manic schizophrenic who actually beat herself up when she thought it was her brother, but I was probably the most scared little girl that Brad Pitt had entertained for a number of years after it.
The Dark Knight
Finally! I don’t have to be ashamed. Comic books are cool. They’re taken seriously and one film has empowered me to “come-out” as a comic book geek: The Dark Knight. Clichéd? Obvious? Yes. But undeniable. Forget Adam West and the Exploding Shark. Christopher Nolan proves that comic books are more than just adolescent fantasies, catering only to the minority of stereotypical Simpsons’ “Comic Book Guys”. They’re a legitimate literary and artistic medium that can engage the masses. With the film’s critical and global success everyone is a comic book geek now. So say it with me people: “Best. Film. Everrr.”
Many of us uni students can relate to a kind of teetering sensation. Stuck somewhere on the bridge between teenage parental reliance and independent adulthood. My ‘life changing film’, Garden State, speaks to all of us who are hovering in this foggy place. I’ve watched this film a million times. I’ve cried, laughed and philosophized. It dips as dark as disability and death but sustains its positivity through offbeat humour and quirky romance. And I’m not alone- I’ve seen its success reflected across the spectrum; from the eyes of my most sentimental girl friends to my cynical older brothers.
Christopher Nolan’s reinvention of the iconic DC superhero has now firmly established him as a household name. His first major Hollywood-funded success, the 2000 psychological thriller Memento, reinvented cinematic narrative itself and changed how audiences viewed film altogether. Told from the perspective of an amnesiac tracking down his wife’s killer, this is a masterfully constructed jigsaw of memory episodes told in reverse. Nolan forces his audience to contemplate on questions about reality, memory, identity and time, whilst framing it in a genuinely chilling and perplexing murder mystery. You will never see a film that leaves you more confused at what is essentially the beginning of the story.
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan may seem like an obvious choice for a life-changing film. It depicts life and death, bravery and courage. Described as “the finest war movie of our time”, Spielberg’s blunt, bold direction has deservedly been admired in many quarters. Yet this film is particularly important to me, mainly due to the first twenty minutes. Captain Miller and his men arrive on the D-day beaches among hundreds of others with one objective: turning the tide of the war. This terrifying depiction of the randomness of battle, with soldiers murdered before even opening fire, really kick-started my interest in history.
Stand by Me
Stand by Me caught my attention on TV when one day when I found myself bereft without Power Rangers to watch or a Goosebumps book to read. Not featuring either a city-terrorizing monster or ninjas meant that it wasn’t the usual for me but I loved it. It was the first film in which I could see myself; bike rides with friends, chatting about trivial things that seemed incredibly important at the time. It was the first time a film wasn’t just escapist fun, it left me thinking and the themes of friendship and growing up only resonate more today.
The Jungle Book
Just as Mowgli is ushered from the jungle into civilisation – yep, another of Kipling’s insufferable colonial metaphors- Disney’s dystopian dance-fest drove this Impacter ever closer to an awareness of Sex (altogether shattered upon hearing Dad do strange things to Mum one night). At the picture’s close, our premature protagonist wanders off in pursuit of the female flesh, after the little hussy has deliberately dropped her pot of water and waited for Mowgli to fill it. An abandoned Baloo watches on, alone. This ending infinitely frustrated me, and continues to do so: possibly because my own life continues to bear astonishing resemblance to Baloo’s.
The highest grossing film of legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is the tale of a girl who becomes trapped in the realm of spirits, and once there must take control of her surroundings to save her parents who have been transformed into pigs. The film made me realise animation is not just for kids but can used to create amazing worlds and characters. The film also taught me that films do not have to be in English to be entertaining and do not need big stars and huge promotional campaigns to warrant viewing.
I think its safe to say I was not expecting a life lesson from a high school comedy, let alone a film starring Lindsay Lohan; but it has to be said that ‘Mean Girls’ does carry with it an important message. It stresses the point that it isn’t popularity that is crucial factor, but happiness, and that happiness is found within good people with whom you get along with and trust; it made me stop trying the weasel my way into the popular crowd, in which I wrongly thought happiness destined, and accept the freaks that made me giggle… Kidding.
Vita è Bella, La
“Vita è Bella, La” Also known as “Life is Beautiful,” is the title of director Robert Benigni remarkable war film and is a beautifully written and performed film under Robert Benigni. Unlike many other distorted historical films churned out by Hollywood, “Saving Private Ryan,” “Pearl Harbour,” to name a few; glamorising historical events and distorting them in the process. “Vita è Bella, La is a deeply poignant film and despite not being in English, the subtitled film does not prove to be a challenging watch under any circumstance. A heart warming film, which augmented my thirst to become a thespian, due to the impact one can have on a mass audience, from the portrayal of different characters on screen.
Only when Disney united with Pixar in 1995 did the 3D sub-genre of animation burst into life, and re-invigorate our experience of animation. Toy Story was the catalyst, and remains one of the most influencial pieces of film art work to date. The film perfectly captures the audiences belief of childhood wonder within a sophisticated, funny and memorable storyline. Our desire for escapism can be strongly linked with film, and for me Toy Story was the start of a new line of films which continue to smooth our imaginations, leaving joy and happiness as a parting gift after every viewing experience. I still can’t decide which is my favourite Pixar film!
As a naïve 12 year old sick of schmaltzy Disney bile, Con Air was something of an enlightenment for me – it was the moment I realised that if a film is badass enough, plot, dialogue and acting are superfluous; the film is still brilliant.
Between the explosions, ridiculous names and general prisoner skulduggery, my pre-pubescent face was transfixed into one of awe; here was a film where you did not need to concentrate at all, and where not one iota of emotional commitment was needed – and yet the film was awesome.
Besides, any film where you’re glad the convicted paedophile/rapist/murderer gets away has got to be ticking some boxes, hasn’t it?
This taut thriller from Christopher Nolan redefined the thriller, the noir, and the narrative structure of film, and especially my own perception of what constitutes acceptable amounts of confusion in a film! Whereas most filmmakers consider themselves smart whenever they include a flashback sequence in their movies, Nolan’s film runs in it’s entirety from end to beginning in a reverse chronological order. With a twist to hang your hat on at the end, if you haven’t already, see this film as soon as humanly possible! And as a witty conclusion, go and watch it before you forget…
A film that has changed my life, and is truly brilliant, would have to be Grease 2. Understandably it’s not to everyone’s taste as it demonstrates a predictable storyline. However it is a great feel good film, with a big slice of cheese on the side. I feel it shows that a great film stays on your mind after viewing, which is not always one that is deeply meaningful it can just be easy to watch like Grease 2. All I know is as soon as I hear the first beats of “Back to school again” I’m in for a treat!
As a child I was taken through the magic of cinema to a different world where the impossible became reality; at the age of four I saw ‘The Fly’. My earliest memory of watching a film was seeing Jeff Goldblum’s wang fall off. Childhood neglect aside, David Cronenberg’s masterstroke was to exemplify our fear of unwilling metamorphosis in Goldblum’s mental and physical abasement thanks to his interference in dangerous experimentation. This reference to the consequences of drug abuse makes the apprehension seem well-placed, but it is the visual effects of his mutation into a man-fly which will keep you awake.
Into The Wild
After just returning from 6 months away traveling South East Asia and Australia, a film that really changed my view on traveling was ‘Into The Wild’. ‘Into the Wild’ is a film based on the 1996 non-fiction book of the by Jon Krakauer about the adventures of Christopher McCandless. Directed by Sean Penn, the film deals with a student, Christopher McCandless on his personal expedition to Alaska after cutting all ties with his family. I have often thought that traveling to a remote place of the world and living self sufficiently would be an amazing experience, which would enable me to learn things that nothing else would teach me. However, ‘Into The Wild’ outlines the threat of loneliness, isolation and natural dangers of being self-sufficient. Although I would never travel by myself, I have always maintained a very carefree attitude towards new and exciting adventures; this film has made me think twice about where and how I may decide to travel to other places. It is a heart-rending tale, which is made even more upsetting, due to its truth. Christopher’s mental and physical state before his death is one of desparation and loneliness, and I think it is something to be wary of before setting off on an adventure to an unknown place.
It’s a rare moment in a man’s life when they can get away with using the term “I feel violated”. Barely with these words out of my mouth I began to contemplate the effect that this two-hour modern tragedy would have on me and for any hope I had about the state of humanity. Gasper Noe, who, as a kid, was clearly more than normally scarred by the death of Bambi’s mother, documents, to the last grim and horrific detail, a night out that ruins/destroys/obliterates the lives of all involved. The effect is irreversible. Abandon hope all ye who enter.