Monday, May 01, 2006

Growing up a Beautiful Thing

There are a couple films that marked my adolescence and formulated my development as an adult. Those films are those that also lent a hand to my understanding of emotional validation and expectation. I used to fall asleep to Clueless. I learned many a witty aphorism from Cher. Rather fortunately, my coming of age film was Beautiful Thing. I couldn't imagine a better one. A tender and earnest "urban fairy tale," Beautiful Thing is one of those rare films whose humbleness and honesty earned it incredible acclaim and a rather enormous fan base considering its extremely modest budget. My point here is not to plug the film, as most people who would happen upon this site (and read past the first sentence) probably have.

At the moment, I am finishing up Barbara Klinger's Beyond The Multiplex which focuses a great deal on what it means to repeatedly watch a film. The reasons she sites for such repetition is diverse. From a "compulsive behavior or the desire for mindless entertainment" to recognizing suspect trends: "Familiarity enables viewers to experience both comfort and mastery." Given particular attention is the viewing of the same film throughout the course of your life - particularly through adolescence. Film going was changed forever when home viewing capabilities became prevalent. That world which had previously only been accessed in the dim and cushioned movie house could now be privatized and the content of those narratives, personalized. I remember in High School when I read Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, my very English-teacherly English teacher claimed she loved rereading the book every couple years as her further maturity brings something to the text each additional read.

A couple nights ago, I watched Beautiful Thing for the first time in several years. As I was probably 12 when I first saw the film, Ste and Jamie, the film's protagonists had a few years on me. Now, with over half a decade on them, I looked on them with a certain understanding. It's the sort of phenomenon we take for granted with cinema. We age, they do not. And when they are young, they are forever young and your relatability changes with the course of time. Those figures whom I used to aspire to now functioned as vehicles of nostalgia - for my past experiences with the film, and my past experiences in general. The dichotomy is a strange one, and though I have few philosophical thoughts on the subject, I think it is an interesting experience that we might overlook a tad more than we should. It is also one particular to persons born after 1980 and thus, grew up with the VCR in the house. This privatized public image becomes a shifting canon and this maleability is a peculiar relational affect, proving that our authority guides our experience far more than we may perhaps desire. The men of my youth are now the boys of my past. And though I appreciated the film for all of the same elements I adored it for in my adolescence, it was worlds apart from anything I had previously experienced. Not a single 1 or 0 had changed on the disc itself, but quite a few had in me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. I never thought of films that way. "We age, they do not. And when they are young, they are forever young and your relatability changes with the course of time." I'm not an arts major (I wish I were, kinda forced to study something else) so I'm sorta lost by all the movie references in your reviews, but when I do understand some of it, it leaves a satisfying feeling regarding the attempt at comprehension of something worthwhile.

8:39 AM  

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