Growing up, I have always been surrounded by films, mainly through my own discovery. Each phase of my life can be summarised by a film I have watched. As I have matured, so has my taste in films. The ones I adored when I was younger will always have a special place in my heart. Here are five films that sum up my life.
Finding Nemo (2003)
Dir: Andrew Stanton
I can remember my first trip to the cinema so clearly. It was 2003; I was four years old when my dad took me to see Finding Nemo at an ODEON in North Tyneside where I grew up. The part I remember most is when Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) meet the sharks. This is meant to be a comedic scene, but to a little girl who had probably never seen a shark before, and certainly not one on a cinema screen, it was petrifying. When I became hysterical with fear my dad had to take me home, ending my first trip to the cinema. The memory never fails to make me smile, and it’s the start of my lifelong love for film. Once I had gotten over the horror of the sharks in Finding Nemo, I discovered going to the cinema isn’t scary at all. I started to persuade my parents to take me back so I could see all of the kid’s classics at the time—The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), How to Train your Dragon (2010). Eventually, it came full circle; I now work at the same cinema that I first visited 18 years ago.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Dir: Francis Lawrence
The majority of my early teens can be summarised by The Hunger Games franchise. Having devoured the books not long after the first film was released, my attention turned to the films. I made it my mission to find out everything I could about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This started with finding out more about the cast – Jennifer Lawrence was my favourite actress for a good few years. Then to production locations, and watching the director’s previous work so I could be reassured my beloved books were in good hands. Catching Fire is my stepping stone between enjoying watching films and becoming greatly interested in filmmaking as an art form. It planted the budding thought of working in the industry in the future and without it, I don’t think I would have made some of my filmmaking achievements. The transition into an IMAX ratio as Katniss enters the arena is still one of my favourite moments in cinema.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen
I often joke I like watching ‘boring films,’ when in reality I just enjoy quiet, character-driven stories. The Coen Brothers’ masterpiece Inside Llewyn Davis properly introduced me to this niche, now a consistent theme amongst all of my favourite films. I first discovered the film during Sixth-Form College where it became a comforting weight through a tiring two years. As a quiet teenager myself, I could relate to some of the more likeable elements to Llewyn Davis’s (Oscar Isaac) personality, particularly his restlessness and desire to achieve more than what he already has. But what I love most about the film is the soundtrack. Replacing the score, each song perfectly captures the shifting tone of the film and cleverly bookends itself with a cover of ‘Fare Thee Well.’ In my eyes, it is perfect and will always remind me of my 17-year-old self and her big ambitions for the future.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Dir: Richard Linklater
Before Sunrise is my favourite film of all time. Have one conversation with me and I ensure this will come up. It’s hard for me to completely describe how much I love this film. My second year of university was incredibly tough and like the rest of the films in this list, Before Sunrise appeared to me at the perfect moment. The first time I watched the film, it was a lonely weekend evening in my flat and I did not expect I would love it so much after its opening ten minutes. I watched the entire trilogy that night, becoming so infatuated with Jesse and Celine’s (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) story I could not sleep until I knew how it ended. I love Before Sunrise so much because it effortlessly takes something so mundane and turns it into magic. And it was what I needed desperately at the time. Like with Inside Llewyn Davis, Before Sunrise manages to capture the restlessness of being a young adult, whilst romanticising your early twenties and maintaining a hopefulness that you can change the world. It’s hard for me to remember how many times I have watched Before Sunrise, but with every re-watch, I find something new to make me love it even more.
When Harry met Sally… (1989)
Dir: Rob Reiner
Everybody has a comfort film, their equivalent of being wrapped in a blanket with a hot drink and know everything will be okay. Mine is When Harry met Sally… in all of its quick-witted, New York in the Autumn—glory. This film never fails to make me smile; I know I can count on it whenever I’m feeling down and need something to pick me back up to keep going. I think I have always been slightly pretentious when it comes to my choice of films, choosing to avoid cheesy romcoms and instead pick something the total opposite. When Harry met Sally… made me let go of that pretentiousness and start to truly enjoy the art of the romcom. Sometimes, you need a story with a happy ending to keep going in real life — something I have greatly relied on over the past year. After finishing my journalism degree, I felt so burnt out that I did not have the mental capacity to watch any of the films I had been meaning to, despite having so much free time. When Harry met Sally… was the film to break me out of my mental block, and allow me to start enjoying my favourite pastime again.
Words by Sarah Storer.
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