My Life in Film: Part One
Chris Gould takes a look back at some of the features that have shaped his life
Because I'm now 'getting on a bit' (depressingly I think I'm actually the oldest person working for DVDActive), I've decided to break what started out as a much larger article into decade-long chunks. So, without further ado, here are my picks for 1975 to 1985.
Okay, so technically I wasn’t actually able to see Spielberg’s blockbuster at the time, let alone appreciate it (what with not actually being born and all). However, the rules of the game state that I must select one film for every year of my life, so here it is. I actually saw Jaws for the first time when I was very young courtesy of a late-night TV broadcast and some questionable parenting. Well, I say ‘saw it’, I actually watched most of it from behind the sofa. I was so traumatised by the sight of Ben Gardner’s head popping up through that hole in the boat that I couldn’t watch the film again until my teens (and I didn’t like to swim in the ocean as a kid either). Even so, it’s an all-time classic and serves as a fitting place to begin my journey. In this year I also enjoyed The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which probably says more about me than I'd like.
I had a tough time selecting a film for 1976. I briefly toyed with the idea of selecting Taxi Driver, but in the end that felt too much like I was trying to be cool because it's never been one of my favourite films. On the other hand, Rocky is an enjoyable underdog story that I have very fond memories of. Okay, so I was probably more familiar with its sequels as a kid (especially the one with Mr. T), but as I grew up I came to appreciate the original film and I'm pleased that Stallone has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.
1977: Star Wars
I don’t actually remember the first time I saw the original Star Wars. I guess I must have been around five or six, and I think it must have been on Betamax or TV. Regardless of when I saw the film, it was the start of a love affair that would continue for the rest of my life. Any regular visitor to the site will know that I'm a rabid fan of George Lucas' original trilogy, and this is the film that started it all. None of the reviews, articles and arguments would have been possible without this ground-breaking film, which stands as one of the true cinematic landmarks. It's not actually my favourite Star Wars film, but in its original incarnation it's certainly one the most enjoyable flicks I've ever seen. In fact, I love Star Wars so much that no other film even gets a look in for this year.
1978: Superman: The Movie
This was an easy choice for me, as I still rate Richard Donner’s take on the Man of Steel as one of the best superhero movies of all time. Although I have quite vivid memories of attending the cinema to view the sequel, Superman II, it is Donner's original that I still return to after all of these years. Although the effects are dated by today's standards, they still hold up to fairly close scrutiny and the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film is just perfect. Christopher Reeve may be gone, but he certainly won't be forgotten. I also enjoyed Animal House, Jaws 2 and Dawn of the Dead from this year, but nothing could touch the Man of Steel.
This was actually a rather easy decision. Although '79 saw the release of the classic Apocalypse Now and the hilarious Monty Python's Life of Brian, it is the cold, dirty future of Ridley Scott's Alien that finds its way into my DVD player more often than any other film from this year. I don't remember the first time I saw the film, but I do remember that I was probably too young and it scared he bejesus out of me. H. R. Geiger's acid-blooded xenomorph is one of the greatest movie monsters of all time, and in this film it wasn't suffering from the over-exposure of recent years. Other films I enjoy from '79 include Disney's The Black Hole and Phantasm.
1980: The Empire Strikes Back
If Star Wars was the film that kick-started my love of sci-fi and cinema in general, Empire was the film that cemented it. In 1980 I was actually old enough to understand what was going on (on a childish level at least), but it wasn’t until later in life that I came to appreciate the film for what it is: one of the greatest genre pictures ever made. While Empire was always gong to be the winner, the decision wasn’t as easy as you might think. 1980 also saw the release of Superman II, which I can vividly remember seeing at my local cinema (which is now a bingo hall). I even had the glossy fold-out programme as a souvenir, although sadly that’s been lost to the mists of time. I'm sure there were other great films released in 1980, but as with Star Wars before it, Empire crushes them all (although I do like Airplane!, sorry Gabe)!
1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark
I was originally going to pick Clash of the Titans as this year's choice, because it was such a firm favourite of mine on Betmax (I rented the tape every week for months). However, in the end I simply couldn’t ignore the influence of Indy. I still have a soft spot for Harryhausen's work on Titans (and I loved mythology as a kid), but as I've grown older the joys of Henry Jones Jr.'s first adventure have grown on me. I wouldn't say I'm as big of an Indy fan as I am a Star Wars fan, but there's no denying the iconic status of the character. Oh, I almost forgot Dragonslayer and An American Werewolf in London, both of which I enjoy.
Christ, this was a difficult choice. 1982 saw the release of favourites such as Blade Runner, The Dark Crystal, TRON and The Thing, but in the end I had to go with the ultimate 80s children's film. Although I don’t have particularly detailed memories of much of my childhood, I distinctly remember my trips (plural) to watch E.T. at long-since-vanished cinemas in and around my home town. It probably sticks in the mind because it took an eternity to find a cinema that wasn’t sold out before I actually got to see it. When I did I cried like a baby (well, I was young), and the film still has a powerful effect on me to this very day, especially John Williams’ amazing score.
1983: Return of the Jedi
1983 also played host to another cinematic landmark for me, as it was the first time I ever watched all three of the Star Wars movies back-to-back in one sitting (without credits no less). This took place at the Orpheus cinema in Henleaze, Bristol, and once again it sticks in the mind on account of my elderly grandfather falling asleep about twenty minutes into the six-hour epic (and snoring for the rest of it)! I know Jedi often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to the original trilogy, but I think it's a satisfying resolution to the saga. Honourable mentions for this year go to the British fantasy film Krull—which had something of a cult following among me and my friends— WarGames and even Superman III.
The eighties was a great decade for film, as evidenced by the pop-culture phenomenons that were Beverly Hills Cop, The Karate Kid, The Neverending Story and The Terminator. This year was probably the toughest decision yet, as a number of my favourite films found release in 1984. From the spooky comedy of Ghostbusters, to the darker Indy adventure, Temple of Doom, and the out-and-out horror of A Nightmare on Elm Street, this was a good year. However, one film stands above all of these as the one I most identify with, and that film is Gremlins. I love those cute little Mogwai and their spiny alter egos and I had the biggest crush on Phoebe Cates as a kid.
1985: The Goonies
Some of my favourite films from this year included Back to the Future, Fright Night, Weird Science, Mr. Vampire and Starchaser: The Legend of Orin, but The Goonies is the one I love the most (that's sure to piss of Gabe). I dig it out every now and then in an attempt to recapture a little bit of my lost youth, and it's still great. I'm especially happy now that I have it on Blu-ray and can watch the Truffle Shuffle in high definition!
So there you have it, my picks for the first ten years of my life. Now we're all different, so I'm sure that many (most) of you will disagree with my selections and have favourites of your own, so why not post your own list in the comments section below? Just remember, there is no right or wrong in this game, as these are the films that mean something to you personally. I hope you enjoyed the article and will play along at home. Be sure to stay tuned for part two of the feature in the coming weeks.
Editorial by Chris Gould
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