My earliest memory of going to a movie occurred when I was five years old. My mother took me to see “Mary Poppins.” I remember vividly that I was wearing a tweed coat and a matching cap and when I sat in front of the car my legs did not wrap around the seat but rather stuck out straight. I don’t remember being told about the film or if the experience was a treat for good behavior. I just remember sitting down in the darkened theatre and this unanticipated magic unfolded before my eyes. That was the beginning of a passionate love that changed my life forever. There are cinematic moments that seem more real to me than my actual experience of living. I’m always amazed when I meet someone who never watches movies or television because these images have so profoundly influenced my choices and behavior.
I still remember a time when a curtain would rise over the screen and on occasion an intermission in the midst of particularly long movie. What is there about sitting in a darkened room with a group of strangers while a story unfurls that is so compelling? I love those moments when everyone jumps simultaneously in a thriller, or weeps at a death scene or relaxes after a long battle. It feels like unimaginable luxury to be transported safely to Istanbul or an African safari or a loft apartment in Greenwich Village without waiting in an interminable airport security line or worries about the drinking water.
James Bond, Scarlett O’Hara, Julia Roberts or Tom Hanks would never ask impertinent questions or bore me with too many personal demands. And while they are merely the light and shadow of science and art they have brought me insight, hope and courage. On occasion I have left movie theatres with renewed energy and fresh perspective. I am grateful to sit in a comfortable chair, eat hot buttered popcorn and have a battalion of unseen technicians tell me a story for two hours. While I must admit I rarely go out to a movie theatre these days, I look forward to the next ride—the next movie that gets my pulse twitching or my eyes watering or my heart breaking. And you—what are the movies that have stirred your soul and shaken your core?