When I was a child, I was often told I was obsessed with movies. People would roll their eyes when I referenced a certain title. The thought that must have run through their minds was: “This kid must have no life.”
But during my junior year of high school, I took a course, “Survey of Film”, and it finally gave me a justification: “Cinema (not “movies”) is an art.” It gave me a whole new way to watch movies, and opened this world for me even further, and gave me a whole new appreciation. A reverence, perhaps?
I came to the realization that folks like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese were not just “really good directors”. No, they were geniuses in this genre of art. Centuries later, scholars would look back at these men who had been entertaining me and rank them alongside Mozart and Picasso.
I learned that there were many other legends that I needed to familiarize myself with: Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa. Not only would I need to familiarize myself with mainstream legends, I would need to search for international artistic directors that people in my inner circle most likely would never have heard of if it had not been for me referencing them: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ingmar Bergman, Luis Buñuel, Fritz Lang, and Jean-Luc Goddard.
I’ve come to understand that the best metaphor for cinema is that of a city. Upon your first visit, you head to the most popular destination, the basics that could be described as Looney Tunes, Disney, and Lucasfilm (well, the latter two are now synonymous, I’m talking pre-2012 acquisition) that we were introduced to as children. When you return for your next visit after maturing you are able to gain familiarity with the local culture: think Hitchcock and other such legends. When you fully move in, you find the niches around your corner, or seek out the places that provide you with an adventure along the way: think Criterion Collection. And then there are some places you just don’t want to go anywhere near: think pornography… or maybe the Twilight Saga.
So, we have come to the vast City of Cinema, and I implore you to let me be your guide as we wander this wonder of the world…