Now it’s a good six months or so until our baby is born and already you get thinking about the far flung future things such as what school will it end up going to…and what will be its first film?
Okay, so it’s not massive in the big scheme of things, at first glance anyway. But if you think about it you always remember the first film that that you went to see at the pictures and those first few screenings can help shape your tastes and even the person you become, so therefore – as a bonafide filmbuff – I think there is great responsibility in choosing those first few cinematic dalliances for your children.
When I was growing up we lived about 9 miles for our nearest ABC Cinema, as it was then, so going to the cinema was a real treat. My dad took me to my first film on a Saturday morning and was Spiderman Strikes Back – basically a couple episodes of the 70s TV series slotted together for us Brits. True it’s not going to cause James Cameron any worries in story or special effects terms but was great to as a child and so, like Peter Parker, I was bitten by the radioactive film bug and my lifelong love of cinema was born.
Talking of Cameron, I was speaking to a friend earlier today and he recently took his six year old son to go and see Avatar after much research if it was suitable for a child his age. Now obviously it’s a film full of lots of childlike wonder and discovery, not to mentions lots of explosions and blue men and woman flying giant dinosaurs. To be fair it’s a pretty simplistic story as well. But this is not the point. The point is that this is one of that child’s first cinematic experiences and it is a seminal piece of work, one he’ll remember visuals from for the rest of his life, one which will gain him kudos in the playground when he’s older when the other kids find out he saw it on the big screen, glasses and all, rather than at home on Bluray or DVD.
And, of course, when he’s all grown up he’ll have that strong and fond memories of it that it will sit nestling on his shelf or computer, or whatever system there will be then, simply due to the fact that it had such a lasting impression of him when he was little and reminds him of the time his dad took him to the pictures.
Such films act in the same way as certain songs, they remind us of a certain time, a certain person or even a certain feeling. As you enter that darkened cave of the cinema and those light go down and those curtains part it’s not just a cinematic experience, it’s a rite of passage.
So that’s why our first child’s film won’t just be some Martin Lawrence film, it will be something that means something, something that will both wow and excite, not just for that screening but for a lifetime and is then passed down through the generations just like stories of old.
Likewise my first run ins with the likes of James Bond (Octopussy and every Bond since on the big screen) and a whole host of films that have never left my consciousness, step up Young Sherlock Holmes and The NeverEnding Story, which have all helped shape who I am and the people I have become friends with.
For me it’s right up there with the first film you bunked off school for (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), the first 15 certificate that you ever saw, underage of course (The Naked Gun) and your first 18 certificate, Ditto (Silence of the Lambs, would have been Misery but I bottled it).
I of course write this looking at our crammed DVD shelves, which include a battered VHS copy of Spiderman Strikes Back (found in Cash Converters in Luton no less) and Young Sherlock Holmes and The NeverEnding Story on DVD.