The beauty of the classic film community is that everyone has their own unique, sometimes labyrinthian journey to become a classic movie aficionado. I’ve already spoken previously at length about how a family vacation and the AFI’s greatest movie list were some of the catalysts for me, but I can highlight those again briefly.
Tongue in cheek, I often call my own initiation into classic film appreciation, 2010: A Film Odyssey.
It does feel like a bit of serendipity the way everything came together like so. When I first found the AFI 10th anniversary list of greatest movies, the newest iteration was about 3 years old. It came to me at the perfect time. The aforementioned family vacation across Middle America piqued my interest in America’s cinematic heritage. Though I was a novice with only 12 classic films to my name, I was eager to learn more. I just needed guidance.
Although I never had cable growing up, I was introduced to TCM for the first time on vacation with films like 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and It’s a Mad…World. Visits to Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, also made me curious when my elders mentioned films like North by Northwest and Close Encounters of a Third Kind.
Other classics I had gleaned across my first years of life included the following:
- Snow White
- A Streetcar Named Desire
- Singin in The Rain
- Rear Window
- The Sound of Music
- Star Wars
- Raiders of The Lost Ark
Although streaming didn’t blow up until a few years later, the resource of my local library, the internet, and these lists, meant I had the tools needed to light the fire under me. And I tore through a lot of America’s greatest films with voracious abandon. It was the perfect climate for my adventure, and I did much of it while sitting on the family couch regaled with some of the best productions Hollywood had to offer.
I still remember the first times I got to see High Noon and Some Like it Hot or The Philadelphia Story and Sullivan’s Travels. Even American Graffiti. It was a visual education, and with each new viewing experience, I dutifully opened up one of my spiral notebooks and jotted down a page worth of thoughts on each movie. I ended up with 5 or 6 handwritten notebooks filled with reviews from about 2010-2013 that I still have.
About that time, I started getting into blogging — dipping my toes into the pool of the blogosphere, and I also started familiarizing myself with international cinema thanks to further encouragement from a literature teacher. Conveniently, much of the Criterion Collection was housed on Hulu for free at the time.
It was another progression in my journey as I left the shores of the U.S. behind to travel the globe to the corners of Japan where Kurosawa and Ozu lived or the vibrant post-war humanism of De Sica or the brash invention of Godard and Truffaut. I was well on my way, and the journey keeps on snaking ever onward.
So AFI was my ready-made gateway. This initial launching pad has allowed me to venture into all the lovely nooks and crannies of the movies available to the curious explorer. At that time, I had no opinions of my own nor did I see what was missing or what might be shortcomings of such a subjective list. I was just excited.
That’s part of the recurring joy we all get to experience and that’s part of the reason I love watching classic films and learning from others all the time because there’s always so much to discover! While there’s the immeasurable joy of returning to one of these earlier classics, now like old friends, my interests keep spurring me onward in ever-new directions to find new actors and movements and to fill out blindspots I’m curious to cover.
I’m still in my 20s, but I’d like to believe my film odyssey that started inauspiciously now over 10 years ago — this journey won’t end until I shuffle off this mortal coil. I look forward to the road ahead with all my fellow classic film aficionados. If I can be of humble service to others, please let me know.
Otherwise, I look forward to continuing on this road less traveled together! Let’s celebrate the canonical greats and venture to find unheralded classics for each other. I look forward to hearing the stories of others. Thank you all for being a part of this journey!