Last week #FilmStruck4 was spreading in my Twitter timeline like wildfire. FilmStruck had asked people to create a tweet with four pictures of films that 'defined them'. Quite the challenge!
To define yourself in four images is no easy task. The scope and range of films I saw was incredible. Many were well known and yet many were unfamiliar to me. I was struck not only by the imagery but the difference in everyone's story. You weren't supposed to say why these films defined you just post the images and leave others to surmise why. Many people did cite their four pictures as those that made them fall in love with cinema, others online (what a lovely world it can be) opted to criticise choices, calling people out for being too bland, too obscure or picking highbrow films to fake their film watching credentials.
Not one to ignore a bandwagon as it trundles by, three came to mind very quickly and then a fourth entered my head somewhat unexpectedly. It was buried deep in the bunker of my psyche and until this challenge presented itself I hadn't realised how deep down it lay.
First though, two omissions that I thought of entering but doing so would have only been in search of nods of recognition and seeking greater coolness among my film Twitter peers.
Goodfellas - A film i first saw when I was 13 (not recommended). My parents had gone out and tucked away in the VHS (taped from TV) collection labelled in my Dad's handwriting was Goodfellas. I'm not sure why I opted for it but from minute one I was hooked. This was story telling like nothing I had seen before, bad guys that you fell for was not something my 13 year old brain could quite compute! I liked these Goodfellas a lot. They taught me lots of new words that day and I saw some imagery that a 13 year old probably shouldn't but I've watched the film countless times and it is definitely a touchstone in my film watching life that I cannot forget.
Pulp Fiction - Again, I was too young and yes again I learnt a lot of new words and saw things a 14 year old probably shouldn't! Even at 14 though I recognised that this film was different, a way of telling stories that was not linear but wove it's way throughout these characters lives until everything comes round to the start point again. Stories are not linear, they ebb and flow in ways we don't understand until a chapter finishes. Life is the same nonlinear, with an ebb and flow that often surprises in equal measures of joy and terror. Over the years I've recognised the grace in Pulp Fiction amid the violence, swearing and chaos. Every reprobate character receives a second chance, an opportunity to tell a new, better story. Maybe that's why It has stayed with me too!
Ok, so enough about those that didn't make the cut. The four that did are important to me. Take a moment, scroll back up and look at those images again.
Back to the Future
Wall-E that sweet little robot oh how I love him! The thing with Wall-E is the depth of the film. There is so much going on. Commentary on consumerism, environmental issues, technology all live within it. Not to mention a little miss mash of Genesis stories with Wall-E tending to a rubbish laden Eden, falling in love with Eve the white robot with wing like arms sent to scour for life in order to tell humanity that the land is clear (Noah anyone?). Start unpicking Wall-E and the layers unfold like the rarest of blooming flowers.
Batman was the shock pock of the four. I didn't realise how much Tim Burton's gothic noir fairytale Gotham meant to me. Jack Nicholson's Joker has so much to do with that. It's a show stealing performance, manic, psychotic and perfect. Keaton's Batman too so stoic (some would claim wooden), striding over rooftops desperately seeking justice to repair unhealed wounds. Good v evil the first cinematic comic book I ever saw.
Big, the tale of a boy who wants to be bigger and wakes up an adult. Every kids dream, the ability to do whatever you want, no restrictions, everything is yours and yet there is loneliness, difficulty and a desire to return home. All we wanted to do as kids was grow up. All we want to do as adults is return to the freedom of childhood where mortgages, bills and fears don't exist.
Back to the Future, so much to say. Without doubt one of, if not, my all time favourite. I wanted to be Marty McFly, skateboard holding on to the back of cars and be as cool as he was! To time travel was the dream, to go anywhere, do anything, fix the world and come home. I've loved this film forever. I'm pleased to say my kids do too. Every time Marty is on the precipice of not getting home safe they are on the edge of their seats and I'm right there with them.
I can be difficult to define yourself in four films but as I looked over the images I recognised a lot of myself in those choices.
Wall-E showed me that I want to tend to the creation of a better world.
Batman tells me that whileI don't need to don a cowl and cape and take to the rooftops, I do want justice to be done for everyone who needs it.
Big doesn't make long to be a child again but I do want to be more childlike in how I view being an adult.
Ultimately like Marty McFly, I want those I love to endure, be safe, be happy and I want to find my way home.
If you could pick four films to define you what would they be? Let me know I'd love to hear them!