I believe in the power of movies. I always have apparently. When I turned thirty, my mother presented me with a spiral-bound leather photo album. Tucked behind its clear plastic dust jackets, and presented in chronological order, were pictures of me taken over the course of my childhood. If I were to present this collection of portraits to a stranger, one thing that would become abundantly clear, other than my unquenchable thirst for strawberry cake, is that from age two through seven my wardrobe consisted solely of movie-themed costumes. Superman and Spiderman shared top billing, along with Batman and Star Wars. When fighting villainy proved too much, and when the lightsaber batteries burnt out, I turned my focus to the Wild West and paid homage to the Lone Ranger by pairing a Stetson hat with cowboy boots and shorts. While I no longer take fashion advice from crime fighters and intergalactic rebels, movies continue to influence my life, and I see them now as doing more serious work.
I view movies as beacons of awareness and as instruments of change. I believe movies are therapists and travel agents, foreign language tutors, and history professors. I believe movies can be the coaches of sport, the coaches of seduction, and coaches of empathy. Movies can serve as reminders, but are often considered to be at their best when they make you forget—even if you only forget for the better part of an hour. This is the storytelling part, which, let us not forget, is the primary function of movies—to entertain.
Movies have certainly done a lot of entertaining in my life, although neither I, nor anyone in my family can recall the first movie I watched. Most probably it involved a spoonful of sugar, some singing in the rain, or the constant reminder that “there is no place like home.”
For the better part of a decade I watched extraordinary people do extraordinary things in movies. It was the 1980’s, the age of the blockbuster, and I was every studio executive’s wet dream. It wasn’t until high school that I began to see movies as more than just entertainment. Mr. Crowley’s film studies class showed me that often times, the best movies are not in English, are not in color, and are not based on any screenplay.
High School was followed by college, which introduced me to Dr. Byrne who introduced me to the notion that while all movies can be considered deliberate works of art, only a few are truly worthy of such a title.
College has lead to adulthood, which has lead to the realization that life is a terribly complex thing, and is filled with all manner of people, circumstances, and events. Movies are where I go to make sense of the world and the people around me. They are also the places I visit when I have given up trying. Movies are my inspiration and my escape. I believe in the power of movies. This I Believe.
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