Friday, 16 April 2010

Images Imprinted On The Mind

The true test of a film is how long it stays with somebody after they've digested it. If a movie manages to succeed in this, there is usually a particular image, or series of images, that the person will always remember from the movie. A defining image, that encapsulates what that person was feeling as they experienced the film. That is what makes movies so special, exceptional even. When we read a novel, we experience the story in mainly thoughts and feelings, and they shape the images and sounds that our minds must slave to create. It's always like playing the lottery when you read a book, because you don't know if you will experience it how the author intended. But when you watch a movie, somebody has spent many hours, maybe days, on creating scenes, creating images and sounds in a certain way, perfecting them, so that they will affect us emotionally and stay with us. Today I want to share a few of the movies, and the key scene within those movies, that have left the deepest imprint on my mind.

Stand By Me

This is one of my all time, favourite movies. The cast is perfect, the story is faultless and the pacing is excellent. There are many memorable scenes, such as dodging the train, sitting in the treehouse or finally discovering the dead body, only to be foiled by the older gang. However, for me, this film is encapsulated by one scene. The movie has climaxed, and they have travelled back to the town in which they live. They've said their goodbyes, and somehow, we know that their friendship will never be the same again. They've changed, beyond repair. It's a point in life that all young boys experience, the passing of a friendship. It can be compared to the parting of friends leaving the military. They've been through everything together, the good, the bad and the sad. They've drank together, sung together, and experienced war together. Then there's the realisation that it is ending, and that it was only ever to be for a limited time. Friendship in the Military is friendship in childhood. A phase of life that must pass. I'm left with the image of Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix, saying their goodbyes among the trees and weeds, below the old treehouse.

Memphis Belle

This is one of the films that I blame for my infatuation with World War 2, in particular the aviation aspects. The great battles fought in the air. Thanks to this movie, written by Monte Merrick, I have been visiting airshows irregularly since I was little, to see the star of the show, B17 "Sally B", take to the skies. At my first airshow, when I was around eight, I had to drag my family closer to the B17 Flying Fortress so that I could see past the nuisance of a crowd blocking my view. The sheer size of the plane struck me at that age. Many have slammed the movie for not being accurate to the real crew of the "Memphis Belle", and their actual war experiences. But I believe that movies based on War Stories have no obligation to be 100% accurate, because they are key to hooking people and getting their attention. Then, those that are genuinely interested enough will go and fish for information themselves. It's not like real stories are hard to come by, with veteran pages and documentaries readily accessible all over the internet, twenty four hours a day. There are other historical innaccuracies that I feel can be ignored, thanks to the era-driven dialogue, excellent footage in the air, and of course, the award winning soundtrack. Again, it's difficult to pick a defining scene from Memphis Belle. There's no feeling comparable to the moment the landing gear locks in place and the tires let out a screech of relief, and we feel so happy for them to be alive. However, something that has stayed with me for my entire life, is the scene as Danny stands, embarassed and belittled under the sun of Spring, and reads out the edited excerpt from W.B.Yeats' famous "An Irish Airmen Foresees His Death". The scene where it is later recalled as a dream of Danny's as he rests close to death, is just as powerful. The words are just so relative to the events, and this scene never fails to touch me.

My Girl

Everybody has seen this movie. It's one of the defining coming-of-age films. It's not the kiss scene, or the poem scene. The most powerful scene from this movie is Thomas J's funeral. The music stirs and we feel Vada's pain as we watch her on the stairs, viewing the ceremony as an outsider. She slowly makes her way to the casket, and breaks down in tears, finally telling everybody "he can't see without his glasses", something only the closest of friends would think of at that moment in life. It truly is a sad moment, that we can or will, all relate to.

I won't go on any further, you all get the point. I challenge you to spend some time, thinking about your favourite movies, and the scene or scenes, that define them for you. Maybe rewatch them. The truly great scenes don't lose their effect, no matter how many times you've seen them.

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