For just the second time in 17 years, I went to a movie theatre Monday night. I had yet to see a “3D” movie, and although we have that new television and it does have that technology, my daughter and husband swore the experience was different in the theatre, and they were right.
There were six of us for this outing—my beloved and our daughter [I guess you could say the rest of us infringed on their usual Monday night excursion] our second daughter, and her two kids, who are the grandchildren I take care of. The movie: Pixar’s Brave.
I can’t tell you why I stopped being a movie fan. We used to go to the cinema from time to time, but when VCRs became all the rage in the 1970s and 80s [oh my God, I am getting old!] we used to not only rent movies every weekend; we rented a lot of them.
Sometimes we’d watch 3 movies on Friday night and 3 movies on Saturday night. This was a family activity, with all five of us in our living room, enjoying the entertainment together. We watched all different genres of films—except, of course, horror movies, or films that had tragically sad endings. I absolutely refused to watch them, period. It just wasn’t ever going to happen.
One incident in particular sticks out in my memory as I look back on those days, but I have to kind of qualify this story first.
As parents, my beloved and I took an unusual stance: we would both rather our children see a movie that had a bare modicum (pardon the pun) of nudity than have them watch a movie with extreme violence or where people got hacked to pieces. Now obviously, we generally didn’t go out of our way rent movies with nudity in them. But once in a while we would get “flashed”.
The year after it came out, we rented The Sword and the Sorcerer with Lee Horsley. In this movie there was one scene when the hero swung through the “harem” on a rope. For the span of about four or five seconds, while the camera ‘followed’ the hero’s swing, the viewer was treated to a background scene of several sets of naked, female breasts.
We were neither of us expecting this; we looked at each other, said nothing, and the movie played on. And, I thought, okay, no harm, no foul as not a one of our three children said a word about it. Christopher was nearly 11 at the time, Anthony 6, and Jennifer 5. I thought: whew, bullet dodged.
The next morning I awoke early to a strange sound. It was click, click, silence for about five seconds then click, click again. Coming from the living room, which was just outside our bedroom, it happened more than a dozen times, and I decided to get up to investigate.
There was my six year old son, Anthony, on the floor in front of the television, remote control in one hand, thumb of the other in his mouth, as he ran that harem shot on the screen over, and over again.
I kind of think my drifting away from watching movies—and television too, because I really don’t watch more than a hand full of hours of that a week—is tied to my reading and writing. At some point after my heart surgery, my interests changed, and I found that, given the choice, I’d rater either read or write than watch a movie.
Through our cable company, we’re able to rent movies on a “pay per view” basis without leaving the house, and if by chance I am in the mood to see a movie, then that is generally what I do. In the past couple of years, I’ve seen The Social Network, The King’s Speech, and The Iron Lady. My sister-in-law (my beloved’s sister) has made it her personal mission to see to it that every couple of months I’m subjected…er, treated to a “girls night”. She brings a couple of movies, “chick flicks”, usually, and she and I and my daughter commandeer the living room to indulge in this female bonding ritual. Hence, I’ve also seen Fried Green Tomatoes, Love Actually, and The Lake House. On the most recent of these evenings, we watched “It’s Complicated” starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.
There are often margaritas involved in these rituals, so I guess they’re okay.
Ironically it’s my role as author that has prompted me to try and fit in a few more movies recently. Our film media does, after all, reflect our lives, and our collective consciousness. We can take our “social temperature” by looking at the movies we create and watch. It can be argued that it’s difficult to be current with the world if one is ignorant of the art, and art forms, being produced and celebrated by it.
Films and television shows draw the largest audience of all the arts.
While that is true, and I don’t want my books to begin to sound as if they are novels written by a woman not in tune with her times, one thing remains non-negotiable.
I still refuse to watch horror movies, or any movies that have a dreadfully tragic ending. It’s simply not going to happen.