A Flash and Glimpse: What's the First Movie You Remember Seeing?
I remember a scared boy running through a dark wood and falling into a deep hole. I remember a giant, jaw dropping chrome spaceship shaped like a pointy pear. I remember feeling sad that the same boy who fell into the hole didn’t know where (or when) his parents were. Most of all I remember his little brother, who was actually older than him at that point in the story, setting off fireworks from his rooftop so that the lost older (but actually younger) brother and a friendly alien could navigate their way home. “Compliance!” The year was 1986, the movie was Flight of the Navigator, and according to my mental math I was about four years old.
It was the first movie my parents ever took me to see in the movie theaters. A relatively safe choice as it was produced by Walt Disney, it also happens to be the earliest memory of a movie (or any media really) that I can summon. The fear I had in some of the tense scenes was a real and visceral thing, staying with me to this day. The sorrow I felt at David’s loss of his family from 1978 when he became stranded in 1986 was deep and as real to me as anything else in my four year old life. I don’t actually remember my initial reaction to the ending from that first viewing, the naked terror and sorrow being the more lasting images in my mind.
I’ve gone back to Flight of the Navigator more than a few times since then, and can honestly recommend it as an entertaining 80’s flick that holds up relatively well. The story is that of a young boy who is scooped up by a friendly alien in 1978 and then time travels eight years into the future, meeting up with his family in 1986 not having aged a day since his disappearance. When their missing son shows up on their doorstep again, no older than when he vanished, of course the parents are worried and the authorities ( and NASA!) become involved. Paul Reubens voices the alien for a portion of the film in his classic Pee Wee Herman voice, and a young Sarah Jessica Parker makes an appearance as a filly that someone feeds sugar cubes and carrots to.*
So what is the first piece of movie or television media that you remember? What’s the first flash of entertainment burned into your young and impressionable brain? Have you gone back to watch it again since, and if so, has it held up?
*I blame any misremembered facts on my young and overly impressionable brain interpreting things as I saw them, rather than as they actually were.