Did you know it’s been 25 years since Aladdin came out? (Thanks, Emma Cox! – @scyian) It’s enough to make me feel old.
Lots of movies are like that–it feels like they came out only recently, but it’s been ten years or more.
It does suggest a way of dividing your life into eras: by the movies that came out over that period. That’s what I’m going to do.
Okay, here are the rules. I have to pick one movie (or occasionally a few) from each year of my life that I saw soon after it came out and that I loved.
I’ll start with The Little Mermaid, which is the first movie I remember watching at a cinema.
1989: The Little Mermaid
This movie is rated G, but, as a child who watched it on the big screen, I have to tell you it is terrifying.
The climax combines a number of factors that on their own would be scary, but together are a nightmare:
- Really deep water: because drowning, sea monsters, scary darkness, and did I mention the drowning?
- A storm: which makes the water attack you even when you’re supposed to be safely on top of it and makes your ship tip over.
- Humongous scary octopus witch: need I say more?
The Little Mermaid was way too terrifying for how old I was when I saw it. But, in case I’ve given you the wrong impression, I came back to it several years later on a smaller screen and loved it. The deep water still freaked me out, though.
1990: The Witches
Yes, the one based on the book by Roald Dahl.
The movie is rated PG, but it terrified me in a way that lingered for years.
Two aspects in particular stuck with me.
First, the boy’s parents went out for a night and were killed. This is every child’s nightmare. It’s the reason you scream and cry when your parents try to leave you with a babysitter. You don’t put this right at the start of a children’s movie–it’s just wrong.
Second, something about the witches got under my skin. I don’t remember exactly what, just that for years I got nervous whenever I went beyond the garden fence because there might be a woman with a purple glint in her eye lurking under the trees, and if she got her hands on me it would be the Worst Thing Ever.
But they say witches don’t go after grown-ups, so I eventually I got old enough to be safe.
1991: This was a year of so many great movies: Beauty and the Beast, Hook, My Girl, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Everyone loves the animated Beauty and the Beast, of course. Especially Belle reading a book and singing to sheep.
It’s funny how you see different things in a movie when you watch it at different ages. When I first watched Hook it was an exciting adventure movie. When I watched it later, I was delighted that the workaholic changed to the point he threw his phone out the window. More people should do that.
I can hardly leave out the movie that started this whole post. There was a time when I knew all the words to all the songs in Aladdin (except for a couple of words that are impossible to understand even when you replay that part over and over).
Under Siege also came out in 1992, though I don’t think I watched it until later. It’s probably not a brilliant movie, but I don’t care. I love a movie with a guy (or girl) running around, being kick-ass, and outsmarting the bad guys. I might have to blackmail my husband into watching it with me again.
1993: It’s a tie between Last Action Hero and The Three Musketeers
No, it’s not really a tie. The Three Musketeers is a clear winner, but both are great.I thought Last Action Hero was hilarious, but
I thought Last Action Hero was hilarious (don’t judge me, I was a lot younger then), but clearly not everyone agrees because I haven’t been able to convince my husband to watch it for years.
The Three Musketeers is, of course, a classic. It taught me half what I know about fencing (the other half came from The Princess Bride and a year of fencing lessons), and that red wine is the appropriate drink for a chase.
1994: The Lion King
I saw The Lion King at the movies without my parents–I was getting really grown up. It seemed like everyone saw it at the movies, even old (i.e. adult) people.
Honourable mentions: True Lies (because spies and hilarious) and The Jungle Book (the Jason Scott Lee version) which also very funny, plus it involves another guy (who learns English really quickly) running around with kick-ass skills.
There are a few other movies I could have picked, but I chose Jumanji because I saw it at the movies and it was really freaking scary. Yes, I was older, but no, not that old. (I’m noticing a pattern here. Maybe that, where it comes to movies, I’m a bit of a wuss.)
Spiders. Evil monkey creatures. And so many other things trying to kill you. No, thank you.
1996: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
No, I was not too old for such movies in 1996. (Hint: You’re never too old for such movies.)
1997: This was a year of big movies, and year when I should have been focussing on my schoolwork.
Titanic, Good Will Hunting, The Fifth Element, and Men in Black. None of them are animated sadly, but they’re all great.
Except Titanic. Titanic was just large, hence the name, I suppose.
And no matter how you might feel about Leonardo DiCaprio, in Titanic he did have very nice hair.
The problem is that once you know the ship sinks, which everyone does, most of the surprise is gone. On the other hand, it’s one of those movies that no one will admit to enjoying, but everyone watches. (Sort of the way no one will admit to voting for certain politicians, but they come in with 70% of the country’s vote.)
Yay! Another animated movie! What’s not to love about Mulan? She even has a lucky cricket (the bug, not the ridiculously dull game).
1999: Another epic year for movies
Fight Club, American Beauty, The Matrix, The Mummy, Dogma.
Has it really been 18 years since these awesome movies came out? If you haven’t seen them you should watch them. All of them, and back-to-back. Your life will be better for it.
An epic movie, and this has nothing to do with Russell Crowe being hot in it.
Honourable mention: Cast Away. I only saw this movie once, but it’s the reason that every time I light the fire I feel the urge to stand up and bellow, “Look what I have created!”
We haven’t got to the present yet, but this is taking a while, so I’ll stop here for now.
One thing I notice when I rewatch old movies is how young all the actors are. Not because I’m used to them being older in real life, but because I remember the characters as being much older than me, and now they’re not.
I have a proposal. From now on, characters in movies have to get older at the same rate as the rest of us. Otherwise it’s just not fair.
What movies have stuck with you over the years?
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