Saturday, April 21, 2012

Movie Moments Through the Generations

I recently put up a poll on my Facebook screenwriting page asking people to nominate their favourite movie franchise of all time. This prompted some discussion as did conversations with actors substantially younger than me. They, of course, knew all the iconic films that such a poll will inevitably throw up… but I recounted how I was THERE at the original cinema release of some of these classics.

The two that stick most vividly in my mind are Star Wars and Alien. The former I was taken to by my Dad as I would have been about 11 years old at the time. I know it’s a cliché now because a lot of people from my generation mention it, but that shot of the Star Destroyer gliding across the screen changed movies forever. I had never seen anything even remotely like it – it kept going… and going… and going until finally you get to the engines. I can tell you, my eyes were as big as saucers. Then you get the Stormtroopers in their cool white uniforms THEN you get Darth Vader. All within a few minutes! Hooked. Besotted. Serious Swoonage. Dad, to this day, will tell you he hated it, but I know and he knows he loved it… just don’t tell Mum who has never seen a Star Wars film.

A couple of years later was Alien – the first film I was allowed to go see unaccompanied by an adult. On the proviso I first took my sister, who was two years younger than me, to see The Muppet Movie. Talk about a contrast! I had read the Alan Dean Foster novelisation so I knew exactly what was going to happen but that film scared the living bejesus out of me. What made it memorable was this - when the Alien bursts out of John Hurt’s chest a whole group of kids at the back ran screaming out of the cinema. AND someone threw up. The smell of vomit wafting through a darkened cinema added another layer to the claustrophobic nature of that film.

My parents talk just as fondly of the days when going to the movies was a huge social event – before the days of television. The Grove Plaza in Cottesloe used to house a cinema complex and Saturday matinees were all the rage. But they made a real effort having a theme in the foyer for the movies that played there. You hear how people, notably women, say they were afraid to take a shower after seeing Psycho. Well, when Mum and Dad saw the original theatrical release they said the ushers had green filters over their torches as they showed you to your seats which gave an eerie glow to set the mood. When the movie finished they kept the house lights off… and off… and off… until people started to scream! How cool would that have been?

So it started to make me wonder. What are the iconic movie moments for subsequent generations? Those scenes or images that sear themselves into an entire collective mindset?

What moments stick in your mind and are the source of discussion and wonderment for your generation as they are for mine with Star Wars and my parents for Psycho. What are those movies? Is it to be found in the Harry Potter franchise? Was Die Hard a film that sticks out? Did the prequels have as big an impact on a new generation as the original Star Wars trilogy did on mine?

I’d love to know…


  1. For me Richard it would have to be, without a doubt "The Princess Bride". I think if i could watch only one movie for the rest of my life, than that would have to be it. I really enjoyed your article it brought me back

  2. Thank you Tom for taking the time to share your movie memory. I should revisit Mr Goldman's classic as it's been a while and I know it is held in great affection by many.