I Got Movies Too

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that my parents are finally moving from the house in which I grew up. So my last weeks of vacation were partially spent going through the stuff I still had packed up in their basement and in my old room. It was pretty surreal, on a number of levels. But one of the things I found was a DVD I'd bought probably a year ago to give to my niece. As my memory is a sieve, I, of course, forgot, and it's been sitting in my room for nigh on 12 months.

The DVD is a movie I probably watched 100 times as a child, The Last Unicorn.* Here's the weird edited montage version from YouTube:

*Yes, this movie was first a book, by Peter S. Beagle. It's a very good book, but I didn't read it till much later and, in truth, I didn't latch onto it the way I did this film.

I lived and breathed this movie for months at a time. I remember remembering it so clearly . . . but upon watching it again, I realized that all I really remembered were images: the unicorn; the girl she became; the sea foam in which the other unicorns lived; the Red Bull; the Harpy.

So it was an incredible experience when I sat down and watched it again, as an adult. I was struck by two things: it has probably the most outrageously overdramatic soundtrack ever; one that puts even Queen's soundtrack for Highlander (love it!) to shame. The second thing was just how unique this story was, compared to its other cartoon competition. There is true suffering in this movie, and a truly banal sort of evil. Which, as Hannah Arendt made us aware, is the scariest type of evil yet. There is a prince who is a bit of a boob, really, and a princess who appears to realize this fact. There is an ending that's happy and yet doesn't give credence to the Disney, romantic version of Happily Ever After.

Basically, I spent all my time watching a pretty cartoon about one-horned mythological beasties which is really about independence, being faithful to one's nature, and not allowing a Happily Ever After fantasy to dictate your true desires.

Woah! Deep!

Have any of you had that experience with a movie or a book that you took for granted as part of your childhood experience, only to see or read it later, as an adult, and realize that it somehow reflects, and maybe even shaped, your core values?


Anonymous said…
Oh absolutely. For me it was a combination of Black Beauty, Charlotte's Web and Watership Down. As you probably would guess, I'm animal mad, a staunch believer in animal welfare and I raised about a hundred orphaned baby bunnies when I was growing up.

Those books shaped my compassionate side and I honestly learned so much from them about who I wanted to be.

Oh and Little Women, I remember deliberately copying the behavior of each of the March girls in some way!
elnice said…
"I can feel this body dying around me". It still makes me shudder.
I haven't revisited any childhood favorites, I may as my kids get older.
What was the magicians name again?
Something like Shmendrick?
Anonymous said…
Most memorable books have to be all the Little House on the Prairie. I loved reading about the girls getting so excited over a peppermint stick or a shiny penny as a Christmas gift. It helped me see simple things as being special and important.

One of the best childhood movies has to be The Neverending Story. Loved that movie . . . watched it a thousand times (ATREYU!!) I remembered watching how Bastian loved reading so much. I wished I could find an old closet in my school and read my books instead of going to class.
Thom said…
Schmendrick, like the Yiddish word "shmendrik", one of the dozens of Yiddish words for dork, jerk, or loser. If Eskimos have an unusual number of words for snow because they live in the Arctic (which is complete bull-kaka, because the various Inuit peoples have just about as many words for that kind of thing as anybody else does, but let's pretend it's true for the sake of the argument), then what environmental feature made the Jews have to come up with so many words for someone acting like a damn fool.

Did shmendriks get killed more often whenever the goyim would ride in to burn down a village? Did the villages with the most shmendriks get hit first? Or was it just hard to accept that you were God's Chosen People when your neighbor was being such an asshat? (not to mention all the goyim that kept riding in and burning down your village).

I don't know the answer. Nicole's the brains of this outfit, maybe she has a theory.

As for the actual question posted, what childhood favorites shaped my adult life.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory taught me that it's okay to be a decent person even when it looks like the asshats of the world have everything and you have nothing. Also, it's okay to dream big.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang also taught the value of daring to dream big when you have nothing.

A Charlie Brown Christmas also had this message now that I think about it. It may seem that the world is against you, but you can find joy in the simple things with a little imagination.

So all of that has taught me that no matter how hopeless life seems, not to give up on my dreams.

Also, don't be an asshat.
Nicole Peeler said…
Wendy: I adored all three of those books. Although I still cook up a mean bunny stew, so I guess they didn't have quite the same effect? My mother used to read me Little Women while I was in the bathtub. I still love that book and always go to panels to see people talk about it at academic conferences. It touched so many different people in such different ways, it's one of those books that's almost like a cipher.

Elnice: When I read that line, I could hear the character saying it. It's one of the best lines from that film. Thom's got your back on the character's name. ;-)

Rachel: That film was also one of my favorites, not least because, like you, it seemed to legitimate my love of reading. And I was obsessed with the big doggy's soapbubble back.

Thom: LOL If I'm the brains of this outfit, babe, we're in trouble.

As for the schlemiel link, I think it's the amazing, delightful, and always hilarious ability for self-deprecation that gives Hebrew and Yiddish so many words for schmuck. It's why there are so many great Jewish comedians. I learned early you can make sooo much more fun of everyone else if you've got one finger already pointed at yourself. ;-)

My mother's water broke while she was watching CC and the Chocolate Factory. A few hours later I was birthed unto this world.

But I still haven't quite gotten the hang of not being an asshat. ;-)
Anonymous said…
I think you're right, I think we all get different things from books in a way. For some people reading books like Watership Down turns you vegetarian, for others it makes you more compassionate and not necessarily just for bunnies. For some, it's something entirely different.

Little Women is definitely one of THOSE marvellous books that could truly change your life. I loved the way that it could make you feel proud of whatever type of person you were, you had someone in that book to relate to.

hehe that's quite a birth story!
JD said…
I never had a favourite book as a kid. I read because I wanted to and I read anything in the school library that I could possibly borrow. By the time I got to high school, I firmly believed that books were my best friends.

Then I actually started high school and had to read novels as part of my education, I lost all enjoyment for reading, which was quite sad now I look back on it.

That was until I got to Year 11 and I read 'My Brilliant Career' by Miles Franklin and 'Huck Finn' by Mark Twain as part of the syllabus. They were huge turning points for me. I had no idea of the concept of feminism or equality or that books could make you think or re-evaluate your outlook until I read those books. They made reading enjoyable for me again.

I've not gone back to read them since (I started reading 'My Career Goes Bung', the sequel to 'My Brillian Career' and threw it across the room after a few chapters. It was a total sell-out.)but they certainly hold a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.
Sabrina said…
After my last semester in the masters program at UH-Manoa, well, if I wasn't obsessed with folklore and fairytales before, I was by then. It made me long for the old Nickelodeon cartoons, David the Gnome and this series of animated fairy tales (one always sticks in my mind about a girl turned into a bird. She sings about a special flower that can break the spell). Those shows, or the Shelly Duvall Mother Goose show, The Neverending Story and Labyrinth.

I don't know if it's a matter of taking any of these for granted, but I think of those TV shows now and wish they were still on. (At least I own the movies.) I don't remember many books I read before 5th grade (when I got through The Source of Magic) except for the first book I ever finished on my own without any help. But between these two, I did read.

I think it's just the visuals of the shows that stuck with me more, though. They made me love fantasy. About these people and creatures that don't exist, magic that can shape the world. I wanted to be a part of that, give that feeling to others. Just thinking about it now reaffirms my desire to be a writer of fantasy.
Nicole Peeler said…
Wendy: I think you hit the nail on the head with why Little Women is so effective ... there is a character for everyone, isn't there?

JD: I've heard a lot of people say they were turned off reading by having to read in HS/College, which makes me sad, obviously. Since I force people to read all the time. ;-) Evil professor.....

Sabrina: OMG, Labyrinth was sort of my next generation Last Unicorn. I also watched Labyrinth about 100 times. That was like my indoctrination into female sexuality movie. I was like, "Wait, David Bowie in tight grey pants and big hair makes me feel funny and I don't understand why." LOL Looking back, The Goblin King may just explain my dating history . . . I'm all about the most dangerous looking character in the room. Then again, I'm less into slender steam punk gigolos, so that didn't stick. Just the frisson of danger; not the big hair.
When I got hurt as a kid, this was the only movie I wanted to watch! The VHS is still roaming around here somwhere. Aawww...Jeff Bridges and Mia Farrow!

Popular posts from this blog

Rangers Lead The Way

Miriam Kriss: Vampire