Back in the days when I was fresh faced and youthful and The Matrix had arrived on one of them new DVD disc things, I enrolled on a Film Studies A-Level. On the morning the class began the tutor noticed around 45 faces staring back at him in the room, all crammed into every corner, sitting on tables due to lack of space in the room.
“Who signed up for this class because they thought they’d be watching new movies every day?” he asked.
A vast percentage of the room stuck their hands in the air.
“Okay” he replied “We’re going to watch a film right now but here are the rules, the door will remain open through the screening for you to leave if you get bored but if you leave today then you can’t come back for the rest of this course. I don’t want to see you again in this room”.
There were some noises of derision in the room.
“The first film we’re going to watch is black and white”
Four people got up and left.
“It was made in 1942”
Another five headed for the exits, enough for those on tables to now find a seat.
“It’s an example of Classic Hollywood Narrative”.
Another two gone.
“It’s called Casablanca”.
With that he produced a VHS tape (yes, it was 1999) and let it roll. Within the first ten minutes another eight had gone back to the canteen never to be seen again. Two hours later we were engaged in a deep discussion on classic Hollywood narrative. It ended up being the first day of a very enjoyable two years of watching a vast variety of movies from far flung corners of the globe as well as others closer to home. There were periods during 2001-2002 when I’d be watching about three films a day and then attending student movie screenings at night. I usually wasn’t fussed what I saw at that time because I’d usually do the media student thing of sitting with a notepad taking notes whilst watching.
It’s the reason some friends are amazed that I’ve never seen some of the more mainstream movies in my time. I have never seen Robocop for example, it took me until a few weeks ago to watch the original Total Recall, the Rocky series of movies passed me by and *whisper it* I’ve never seen Return of the Jedi. By 2004, at the end of my degree course, I found myself burnt out with films in general. It’s only in recent years that I’ve gone back to some of my favourites and gone out looking for some new ones to add to the pile. I don’t think my passion for making films has quite come back, I had enough hassle with that back in college, but my desire for a good story is slowly coming back to me after a few years away. I’ve spent some time attempting to silence the inner critic that was so loud during the college days and just enjoy films again.
Just in time too.