Okay, I searched the archives and couldn’t find any comment diversions on this topic — or at any rate, not in the past year — so I’m going through with it.
I was watching The Hunt for Red October on TV the other night, which is always the worst way to watch a movie, with everything edited out and chopped up and the image cut in half, but I watched it anyway because it was on and because, well, I love it. The movie reminds me of my childhood. It hit theaters in March of 1990, and though I didn’t see it in the theater, it was one of the first “grown-up” movies I remember seeing on home video. The finer points of Reagan-era politics were lost on me until later, and the sheer mention of the word “Playboy” was enough to set my young heart curiously pounding, but I remember enjoying the story and the sights and the sounds. I often watched it with my father.
Seeing it again the other night, able to recite the dialogue by heart, I realized something: This movie was fundamentally tied to my childhood, able to bring up memories and associations I’d almost forgotten. And there are many more like it. You know the ones I’m talking about. The movies that are wired into your personal cinematic history so deeply as to be hidden, but that can send you rocketing back to youth once you see them. It could be a kid’s movie you saw before anything else; it could be a movie you saw with someone who’s not around anymore; it could be a family tradition. They transcend genre and era. They can be universal or arcane. They’re your own personal cinematic time machine.
So what are yours?