Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why movies used to matter...

Movies are a huge part of my childhood, there's just no way around it. I loved movies as a kid, and I still do. Kids today don't understand the effect that the movies of the 1980's had on those of us who were growing up then. We didn't have movie after to movie to look forward to each week of the summer. We got basically one movie per summer --- two in a good year. That left a lot of time to obsess about that movie. To study every line. To recreate every scene. To see ourselves in place of the main character.

I would argue -- and someday I will -- that it affected the way we thought. It affected the way we learned. Motion pictures are a powerful way to impart a message, and we were like sponges, just soaking it all in. Luckily for us, we had a stretch of about ten years -- from 1977 to 1987 -- when some of the greatest movies ever made, were released. Peruse this list, and tell me I'm wrong:

1977: Star Wars

1978: Superman

1979: The Muppet Movie (ok...I love the Muppets)

1980: The Empire Strikes Back

1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982: E.T.

1983: Return of the Jedi

1984: The Karate Kid, Footloose, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (big year!)

1985: Back to the Future

1986: Top Gun

1987: The Princess Bride

Every one of these movies affected me deeply. It's not just that I know the stories by heart, and it's not just that I found them to be fun. I learned from them, lessons that I think about to this day...some are fun, some are deep...some are just emotionally affecting. Read on, and tell me these lines don't take you back to somewhere you loved...somewhere you long to visit again...

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

There is a time to every purpose under heaven; a time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to mourn, and there is a time to dance.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered, when wished on a morning star? Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it, and look what it's done so far.


Will somebody please get this big walking carpet out of my way?

Can you read my mind? Do you know what it is you do to me?

Snakes...why'd it have to be snakes?

Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big bright blur...

Where do these stairs go?

You're right, no human being would stack books this way.

Your ego's writing checks your body can't cash!

Look eye...always look eye!

You built a time machine....? Out of a DeLorean!? name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.

These are just a few quick samples, but I know you're like me. Reading those lines didn't just bring to mind those movies. They took you back to that time. You remember how you felt. You remember what you thought.

When you read the parting words between E.T. and Elliot, you nearly choked up. When you read the line from Top Gun, you remembered your dream to be a naval aviator. When you read "look eye...always look eye" you remembered when every kid in America wanted to be the Karate Kid -- when we were all suddenly very interested in the way household chores could teach us karate. My guess is that there were a lot of cars waxed, fences painted and floors sanded, in the wake of that movie.

Movies for our generation were like sign posts in our memories. Each one stands along the road, stretching back in time. Each movie marked a year. Each sign reminds us of dreams we had, and emotions that we experienced, and lessons that we learned.

What are your favorite movie lines, and what movies did I miss?

1 comment:

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