Please forgive me my friends for taking a slight detour off of Disney, but I thought it would be helpful before diving into the Renaissance (which will start after my Oliver and Company review) to talk about the experience of movies, both bad and good. I know many of these upcoming films are not only favorites but near- sacred childhood experiences. I know that because I agree. For me attending The Little Mermaid was what Star Wars was for a lot of boys. It was the movie that spoke to me and seemed to be telling my story.
I don’t want to give away my Little Mermaid review (which I will try to watch somewhat objectively but it’s going to be tough) but I remember first seeing it as well if not better than I remember my baptism which was the same year (yikes but true). My Mom took me to the Villa Theater in Salt Lake which had balconies and so I could sit way up high and watch the movie. I just finished watching it again and there isn’t a frame of the movie that doesn’t work for me, even now. I remember laughing at Ursula and wanting to sing along with Ariel and Sebastian. I remember being dazzled by the music and the artistry and all the bubbles.
But most importantly I remember thinking I was just like Ariel- I sounded like her, liked to collect things, had an assortment of friends, got frustrated with my parents. Most importantly I wished I could have had my own transformation like she did. I wanted to get out of this darn kids uniform I was in just like she wanted to be done with being a mermaid. No little kid wanted to grow up faster than I did. The adult world looked like so much more fun and empowering and I hated being told what to do (I was a delightful child to parent…).
Then in college it went to #2 spot under Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In a lot of ways Holly Golightly is a human version of Ariel. She doesn’t want to accept the world so she creates a fantasy life for herself. She finds redemption through loving a wounded man, who is cynical and without hope. I still have the entire ending of this movie memorized. Fred says to her:
‘You’re chicken. You’ve got no guts. You’re terrified someone is going to put you in a cage. Well, baby you are already in that cage. You built it yourself and it’s not bound in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself. ‘
That line changed my life and makes me ponder every time I hear it. You just keep running into yourself…
In 2009 I had an amazing experience at the movies with Up. The beginning we see the life of a couple in pictures and then Ellie is gone. We only meet Ellie for about 3 minutes of the movie and yet we hear her story and she remains an active presence throughout the rest of the film. Sometimes characters even talk to her, interacting with her presence as if she was there.
I’ve probably seen Up more than any other movie (maybe Little Mermaid is more) and with each viewing it never ceases to make me think about my life and the people who I love who remain an active presences despite being gone . I miss them so much and in a way Up gave them back to me a little bit. It reminded me they are there for me for this great adventure of life. At the end when he finds her note in the book I sob, like full on weeping, because it moves me to my core.
I like Up so much I had a cake made in homage to it when I purchased my home (it was an Up housewarming/birthday party).
Are these perfect movies? No but the experiences were. Most of the time I don’t have such powerful experiences at the movies. Most of the time they are for entertainment but it is a sublime moment when it does happen. And I have to admit when someone is harsh towards my experience movies it does sting a little bit. I know it is just a movie to them but to me it is these bigger experiences.
However, I have also been on the other side where I didn’t respond to a movie that is precious to another person and it’s always a challenge. Do we just keep it to ourselves or is there a nice way to express our feelings?
Growing up I learned from the best that people can disagree violently about something and keep it fun and even enlightening. I learned this skill from 2 friends on TV:
I am no Siskel and Ebert but they did teach me to be thoughtful and passionate while still smiling and remaining friends. It’s tough to do but I would rather make that attempt than never talk about anything for fear of offending.
In the end, it is all about the experience of storytelling. Something will touch our souls (or not) and it makes us all richer, better people. So, even if I detest a film another loves (and there are some big ones mostly live action…) I can understand the experience they’ve had and relate. Other people may have detested Breakfast at Tiffany’s but I bet they’ve had a movie that made them think about their life the way it made me think about mine, and that’s where we can understand each other, even if we have different tastes.
So I just wanted to put this out there before starting these films which are so important to all of us. I will be 99% praise because I love them but if there is a few little critiques or concerns it’s okay. I get what you experienced and nothing some idiot blogger can say will take that experience away. Hopefully we can share it together.
Perks of Being a Wallflower and Saving Mr Banks were other movies that I had this kind of experience reaction too. Art can do that to you!
Let’s bring on the Disney Renaissance…!