Someone asked me the other day what my favourite film of all time was.
For a moment, my mind went blank. I panicked. I forgot every film I had ever seen. What kind of question was this? How can you only have one favourite film when there are so many different genres? Does film include animation?
What if my response was met with ill-concealed disgust, or worse, chronic laughter? Would a psychologist view my choice as a direct effect of my traumatic memories of Greek school? Should I admit that I could give a word-perfect rendition of most Disney songs? Or that my sister and I regularly quote famous and not so famous film lines to each other for no reason at all?
I’ve gone too far.
After calming myself, I considered this seemingly non-invasive question, more deeply.
I’ve seen a fair few films in my time but since having worked in the film industry I feel that I watch them in a much more critical way. I often find myself noticing things that I wouldn’t have picked up on before, for example, the obvious use of a body double when there is a wide shot or stunt, the shadow of a cameraman, long fake fingernails suddenly disappearing, glasses on and then off…etc.
In The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, there is a scene when a crowd of Narnians are ganging up on Prince Caspian in the wood. After the general sounds of the crowd have died down someone clearly yells out, “He’s a pr*ck!”. I found this to be so obvious when I saw the film in the cinema, that I am surprised not many people picked up on it.
Less obvious are the subliminal messages in the Disney films. One not so well-known ‘message’ can be found in (only the VHS edition of) Aladdin in the scene where, diguised as Prince Ali, Aladdin climbs onto Jasmine’s balcony. As he attempts to push the tiger Rajah away, he mutters, “Good teenagers take off their clothes”. The phrase is so stilted that it takes a while to realise what he is saying, and the volume has to be turned right up. But he definitely does say it.
To me a good film has to have all the right ingredients. A solid soundtrack, a strong cast, an elegant script, and some visual cinematic stiumulation by way of costume, set, landscape, or lighting, are all important factors.
So in no particular order, here is a list of My Favourite Top Twelve Films:
1. Stand by Me directed by Rob Reiner: Why? Two words: River Phoenix.
2. Edward Scissorhands directed by Tim Burton: Why? Danny Elfman’s beautiful soundtrack and Johnny Depp’s grief-stricken pale face break my heart every time.
3. The Goonies directed by Richard Donner: Why? Written and co-directed by Steven Spielberg, this adventurous childhood dream still makes me want to be a Goonie.
4. The Moonspinners directed by James Neilson: Why? Because Hayley Mills is just brilliant.
5. Labyrinth directed by Jim Henson: Why? It’s the power of the babe. What babe? David Bowie.
6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding directed by Joel Zwick: Why? My life on film.
7. Titanic directed by James Cameron: Why? I was always obsessed with the true story of Titanic, and then became obsessed with the true story of Leonardo Dicaprio.
8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (counts as one film!) directed by Peter Jackson: Why? Legolas – the elf of many girls’ dreams. Tolkien’s masterpiece was brought to life in such a truly magnificent way that it won seventeen Oscars!
9. Pan’s Labyrinth directed by Guillermo del Toro: Why? Foreign films are the best. This was one of the strangest yet most magical films I have seen with an outstanding performance given by the young lead actress.
10. Fiddler on the Roof directed by Norman Jewison: Why? Because my father is just like Tevye (without the beard) and my mother is almost the spitting image of Tzeitel, the daughter who marries a tailor. And because it’s TRADITION!
11. The NeverEnding Story directed by Wolfgang Peterson: Why? The world of Fantasia was every child’s dream.
12. Mrs Doubtfire directed by Chris Columbus: Why? Robin Williams at his best with one of my favourite quotes, “I don’t work with the males, ’cause i used to be one”.
My Top Five Animated Films:
1. Beauty and the Beast
2. Flight of Dragons
3. The Prince of Egypt
4. The Water Babies (half film, half animation)
5. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest
Other favourites I couldn’t fit in: Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Grease, The Princess Bride, The Witches, Ladies in Lavender, The Emporer’s New Groove, Gladiator, Jaws, The Wizard of Oz, Leon, The Notebook, The Green Mile, Goodbye Lenin, Hocus Pocus, The Godfather Part I, Goodfellas, The Little Mermaid, The Sound of Music, The First Wives Club, The Mummy, The Shawshank Redemption and many many more…
So what is my favourite film of all time? How long have you got?
- My Favourite… Western (drinkingbeerwatchingmovie.wordpress.com)