As with choosing my favourite song, deciding on my favourite movie is even harder. I’ve grown up with Science Fiction and Fantasy films – StarWars, The Goonies, Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and lots of other 80’s movies like that. There are different films I watch for different reasons, like feeling sad, or whimsical or needing some adrenaline. The films that are dearest to me are the ones that I can watch over and over without getting bored (although there is a limit somewhere, I’m sure). These are the ones that stick with me and are part of my memories – they have been in the background to some of the interesting events in my life, or the difficult ones, or the exciting ones. You know, those movies that transport you somewhere else when you watch them, where you can be elsewhere, but still you. So in this spirit, I’ll provide a list of some of those transformative movies and the reason why I love them so much:
1. StarWars Trilogy – my Grandad (my Mum’s Dad) used to have this on the television/video a lot when I went to Cambridge to see my Grandparents. I remember being awe struck and having a real sense of wonder and excitement. My Grandad, or Pop as we called him, passed away when I was about 14 or maybe even younger than that, so StarWars and Star Trek remind me of him (as well as music as he loved music).
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – I can watch this many times without getting bored! When I went to see this, it was with my partner Dan – we went to see it at the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh and was the first time I went to a small independent cinema to see a non-English language film.
3. Moulin Rouge – another of those films that are visually striking and have some lovely memories for me. I went to see this with Dan again, but this was without subtitles and it was early in our relationship (probably about 8 years ago). He wrote down the story and some of the dialogue for me afterwards because I couldn’t really follow much of it without subtitles!
4. Frida – this film is beautiful and surreal, much like Frida Kahlo’s art. Kahlo is one of my favourite artists and I feel that this film is both emotionally resonant and very true to her memory.
5. The Indiana Jones Trilogy – One of those childhood films that I just have an irrational attachment to! Only kidding, I think Indiana Jones were some of those brilliant swashbuckling action films of the 80s and 90s that we all secretly love.
6. Interview With The Vampire – one of the first grotesquely violent gothic films I watched, and probably the first instance of supernatural horror I came into contact with. I think it still holds up as a brilliantly entertaining film, even though parts of it are definitely worth the 18 certificate. I also love Anne Rice’s books, so this film is the only true adaptation I’ve seen (there was a Queen of the Damned film but it was kind of rubbish).
7. Night Watch and Day Watch – two parts of the Sergei Lukyanenko Trilogy and the best Russian Supernatural horror films we’re ever likely to watch (if I’m wrong, please correct me!). I’ve also read the books and they’re brilliant.
8. The Lord of the Rings trilogy – I can watch these over and over without getting bored. I read the books and just fell in love with Middle Earth, everything Hobbit and Elvish. It’s such a sweeping and epic tale and manages to be human and touching at the same time. Peter Jackson did such a good job and I can’t imagine anyone else who could have done better.
9. Casablanca – after Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this film is just absolutely stunning and every time I watch it I keep having ‘what if’ moments. It’s a grown up story, not a film that unrealistically forces a happy ending. This is one of those films that will never grow old, at least not for me. It reminds me of being at University, because this is where I started watching all those old black and white movies I had never got round to watching before.
10. Chocolat – this is quite different in some respects to the book of the same name (by Joanne Harris) but both versions of the story have their charms. Again, I can watch this film over and over without getting bored or fed up. It fuses a dose of magic with realism and has so much French charm, that I’m surprised they didn’t film it in French with subtitles!
11. Amelie – the first ever French film I watched, and it started a love affair with foreign language films (as well as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is brilliant, but for different reasons!). Amelie Poulain is amazing and gives me hope that the more eccentric you are, the more fun you have. She’s the most charming character I’ve ever seen on film.
12. The Sound of Music – my fail safe feel good film when I’m feeling like a dose of childhood. My Gran had this on TV at Christmas and so it reminds me of happy times.
13. Pan’s Labyrinth – harrowing and fantastical. There’s something very unsettling about this film and the sense of danger pervading every scene. You’re not sure what to believe – is it really happening to her, or not? I love this film so much – when I first saw it I thought it was a work of genius and I still do. It juxtaposes the imagination of childhood with the danger of war and violence.
14. Alien – the only horror film that I actually like! This is connected with a really scary childhood memory. I must have been about 8 0r 9 and my Dad was babysitting me and sat me in front of Alien, right up next to the screen in an armchair (probably whilst he watched football or something..). Needless to say, I was terrified and had nightmares for ages about Aliens bursting from stomachs.
Well, there you have it – these are some of my favourite films (it only scratches the surface, though). What are yours?