Sure, I liked movies as a kid. My parents made sure our Disney collection kept expanding with each new release and they even took my little brother and me to the cinema to see some of those films: I remember seeing Pocahontas, Hercules and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame up on the big screen and being engrossed by those wonderful animated pictures. But the one Disney film I distinctly remember watching in the theater was The Lion King; I saw it with a couple of friends when I was just six years old, because one of them had invited us to his birthday party and had decided we would go to the movies to check out the now classic film. I still know how much of an impact it had on me, especially the stampede scene and its aftermath. I was moved, stunned even when I walked out of the auditorium when the credits rolled. So this is what movies can do, I thought, and I kept watching movies like most people do: to have fun, to be entertained or to be touched. As a young boy I couldn’t get enough of the Disney films, of The BFG, of Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland, of FernGully and The Land Before Time. Some of those movies I must have watched at least ten times.
As I grew older I started watching live action films. My father introduced me to the James Bond franchise: whenever one of those films would come on he would tape it and show it to me later, fast-forwarding through the commercial breaks. Much like him I was into it: I think he started with showing me the Roger Moore films, my dad’s favorite Bond, and then we moved on to Connery, Lazenby, Dalton and Brosnan. The World Is Not Enough we watched in the cinema, an early showing, just the two of us together at the movies, a wonderful father and son moment. In the same year, 1999, I decided to check out the Star Wars trilogy, because the release of the first of the prequels was imminent and my mom recommended me I’d check out IV, V and VI first to see if those movies were something I’d like. I was eleven then, but now I still have to urge to do my research before I watch a film, to check out earlier movies or read up on its stars and directors beforehand. I really can’t thank my parents enough because they introduced me to most things culture, not just movies. Movies are just something that stuck. For the longest time I just thought of movies as a good time though, I didn’t necessarily see the medium as art. I thought of films as a great pastime because of my upbringing, because my parents, my brother and I went to the cinema together during Christmas time, to see the Harry Potter and the The Lord Of The Rings films. It was only until later that I think I really became a cinephile and became as obsessed with film as I am today.
The exact moment is not hard for me to pinpoint. Another birthday party, I was probably fifteen, and I was over at a friend’s house with a couple of people, sitting on the couch when he decided he wanted to show us one of his favorite films: Fight Club. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I basically grew up on animated films and adventure romps and here I was watching something raw, dark and meaningful, a movie so masterfully put together, with such an eye for detail that I was blown away even before the movie’s famous twist came around. It was my introduction to Cinema with a capital C, to films that tried to be more than simple entertainment, to movies that could get under your skin and make you feel uneasy, really pull you in. I was impressed by the camera movements, the coloration, the fantastic acting by Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, its atypical score, and the deranged genius of its plot based on the fantastic Chuck Palahniuk novel, even though I could not articulate it as well back then. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of film, to a whole other sort of movies I had never watched up until that point. And a couple of weeks later, at a movie night organized by my high school, I watched the film that really made sure I’d never ever turn away from the medium, the picture that in fact still is my favorite movie: Donnie Darko. I’ve seen it approximately 20 times now and it still has to bore me. It’s a film that resonates with me on a deep level, that still keeps on giving ten years after I first saw it and, in the end, is an example of what really got me into movies and what’s firmly keeping me here: those stories told by brilliant storytellers who know how to use all these different parts to create a mesmerizing whole to move audiences time and time again and to, the way I prefer it, also make us ask questions, reflect and think.