I have been a self-proclaimed movie spaz ever since I can remember, and Oscar season just happens to be my second favorite time of the year (football season being the first). Every year since I was a kid, I would ask my parents if I could stay up and watch the Oscars, and they would allow me to do so. It was once a year, and it seemed to mean a lot to me, but why? What made me such a movie buff at such a young age? Why was I so obsessed with movies in an age where DVDs didn’t even exist yet? Premium television wasn’t even cable, but something called Preview, and I never saw movies in the theater.
My obsession with movies began with this little Oscar nominated film from 1980 called, “The Elephant Man.” Directed by David Lynch and starring John Hurt (John Merrick) and Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Frederick Treves), this film captivated me at the age of 10. That’s right, I was 10 years old and absolutely lost myself in this emotional drama about a man who suffers from life threatening physical deformities. I remember sitting there, fascinated by Merrick. The fact that this person scared so many people and was treated so poorly because of the way he looked really affected me at such a young age.
The performances by Hurt and Hopkins were incredible, and the black and white medium in which the film was shot also fascinated me. I had seen things in black and white before, but at the time I thought it was amazing that someone decided to make a decision to not shoot in color. That decision worked for me because it took any other stimulus out of the picture and forced me to focus on the characters and relationship between Merrick and Treves. I sympathized with the fact that Merrick was unable to sleep with his down, and was saddened by his choice to lay down and die. Sobbing at the end of the movie, “The Elephant Man” was the first film that ever moved me to feel anything for characters.
We all have our favorite genres, and mine just happens to be the drama category. I am often made fun of for my choice in genres with people telling me they would rather be entertained by a movie and not have to think, but I can’t help myself. “The Elephant Man” just captured me like no other movie had before. I can’t even enjoy a good drama now unless it draws me in and attaches me to the characters.
To this day, when watching a movie, I watch it the first time for involvement. I need to be drawn in by the characters and moved by them. I want to be totally immersed in the film. Subsequent viewings are then reserved for the other aspects that go into making movies, such as the cinematography, sound effects, editing, and the use of music.
It’s because of a movie I saw at 10 years old that my Oscar parties become a heated competition!