Most people will tell you that their first time at the movies was one of the greatest experiences of their lives. Why would it not be? A soothing atmosphere to relax in, food and beverages to enhance the mood, family and friends to enjoy it, a great flick on the big screen: of course seeing your first movie in a theater remains a nostalgic event in your life. Of course, your personal experience would also greatly depend on what the movie was about and what genre you were into at the time.
It is quite easy to define what one's genre and flavor of movies is depending on where you come from and when you were born. Those of us born in the times of the roaring twenties can easily identify with films that touch on the themes of that era and the years that followed: old school gangsters, the First World War, Prohibition, and the overwhelming desire to have family, comfort, wealth and an understanding of the world around us. The class and frankness that actors of that time displayed on the silver screen took our breath away. Few did so more than Casablanca, and the memorable portrayals given to us by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
As time passed, the film industry grew, eventually touching on the new themes of the world at large: the shifting world presences of Germany, Italy and Japan; the Second World War; the Great Depression; the efforts to reign in social issues while retaining common sense; the rise of NATO and the U.N.; and the eventual progression of the United States to the level of global superpower. The films made during the war of true events shocked the world into acknowledging that conflicts of this magnitude simply could not be allowed to continue, staining the planet worldwide with their grainy, chilling images.
Even today, films depicting events from that bloody conflict still capture our minds and sear our souls with the sheer magnitude of what younger generations thankfully never had to bear witness to or endure in any way, shape, or form. To this day, the image of Willem Dafoe raising his arms to the heavens on the box cover of Platoon truly gives me chills considering the horrors and damning history that is war in the movie industry.
The earliest recollection in my life that I have of going to the movies was when my family and I went to see Star Wars for the first time. A wonderful blend of special effects, memorable characters and masterful story telling, the science fiction drama truly awoke a passion in me for film-making and theater, a conviction that it must always convey not only a message of wonder, and a constant reminder that the movies are where we all are allowed to be children once more, and where the limitless imagination of us all continually reaches beyond only what we can see in front of our fingers. It will be a sad day indeed when the movies truly no longer thrill us or allow us to indulge in a moment where time stands still, and we are free to smile, laugh and simply be, just another face in the crowds at the theater.