|More than just the ticket.
Are you thinking some adorable Walt Disney Classic? Some imagination-infused movie-going delight like Fantasia? Maybe The Aristocats? And was it an experience so formative that it kick-started my love for the Arts?
YES! (And no.)
The first movie my parents took me to see in a theatre was Walking Tall, the original. I was about seven. If you're not familiar, here's my innocent version of the basic plot:
1. The good guy is nearly beaten to death and the authorities ignore it.
2. The good guy becomes the sheriff.
3. The good guy (?) beats bad guys with big pieces of wood.
4. The bad guys repeatedly shoot the sheriff and his wife. (It was at this point that I remember weeping a little while I asked my Mom, "That blood? It's all just ketchup, right Mom?")
5. Social services barged into the theatre to take me away. Naw. This part is fabricated.
6. The good guy sheriff blasts some holes in the bad guys.
7. I remember a fire too?
Yeah. So that was my first film.
Apparently my parents deemed the rating system merely a suggestion so they didn't stop there. Several other movies followed within the next two years: The Towering Inferno. Earthquake. Airport 1975. The Godfather, Part II. Race with the Devil. And of course, why not throw in that terror classic: Blazing Saddles.
By the time I was nine or so, I sure had witnessed a lot of people die horribly: by club, by fire, by jumping to their deaths, by suicide, by airplane crash, by point-blank execution, by human sacrifice in a Satanic cult and of course a classic fart scene (which could have been deadly considering the campfire in the middle of those bean-loving cowboys.)
As I said these films had a formative effect on me. Somewhat negative: I, uh, had a minor pyromaniac phase one summer. And yet also positive: those films BLEW MY MIND. Although I recall only fragments, I clearly remember how they made me feel. Before then, I had only begun to fathom through books that "art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time [Thomas Merton]." I was simultaneously transfixed and transported. And in the process, those films hooked up some of my dendrites in ways that if you knew me, would probably explain a lot.
And that is why I love movies AND movie-makers because clearly movie-makers then and now are NUTS in the best possible ways. Take the most recent movies for example. Just think about Black Swan. And 127 Hours. Remember that seriously creepy baby-doll in Toy Story 3. The climax of Winter's Bone alone. Every single scene of Inception took nuts to another level, maybe 7 in fact (?). What about that cabin scene in True Grit?! Nuts! Deliciously nuts. All of them.
Movies build in me a reverie. For those of you who can relate, enjoy the Oscars peeps.