Movies that have stuck with me over decades

Lantern in scary movies

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.

1992: Aladdin

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.

Cobbled street

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.

1995: Jumanji

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.)

1998: Mulan

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.

2000: Gladiator

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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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

30 thoughts on “Movies that have stuck with me over decades”

  1. I watched a lot of those with my daughter and enjoyed them. Now I get to watch them again with the grandson. Some good ones there in the late 90’s. I haven’t seen as many really memorable ones recently. Is it just me? Ha ha.

    1. Kids are a great excuse to watch animated movies. On the other hand, who needs an excuse? 🙂

      I agree, recent movies have been pretty meh.

    2. I really enjoyed San Andreas – one of those movies it’s worth paying to see on a big screen. But I have a big weakness for disaster movies.

      I still need to see Jurassic World.

  2. I love that you started with Aladdin but then the first movie you remember seeing at the cinema. Aladdin WAS the first movie I remember going to see on the big screen! My aunt took her three kids and my sister and I. She brought ziplock bags full of popcorn for each of us! LOL. Maybe that’s why I remember it.

  3. You’re probably the only person I know who adds Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, to their list of favourite movies. 😛 I can watch it, because Alan Rickman saves some of the scenes, but… meh. I’ll agree to disagree.

    Movies that have stuck with me… some of the classics, of course, such as The Great Escape, and The Shawshank Redemption. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers remains an old fav, along with The Princess Bride. I quite enjoy The Last of the Mohicans and can never get bored of Sister Act or Jurassic Park. In terms of animated movies, I prefer Studio Ghibli to Disney, as the characters are complex (and the female characters stronger). Princess Mononoke, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away…. love them all!

    1. Nooo! Here comes the judgement for liking the wrong movies. I’m never telling you what books I read. 😉

      I’ve hardly seen any of your movies, except The Princess Bride (which I used to watch every time I was sick) and Jurassic Park, which is okay but I don’t love. I’ll have to check out some of Studio Ghibli’s movies.

  4. First movie I ever saw – The Sound of Music
    First movie that took my breath away – Star Wars IV
    First movie that made me cry – The Color Purple
    First series that I binge watched – LotR

    1. Wow, you remember the first movie you ever saw? I’m impressed! I used to love The Sound of Music. (I probably still do, but I haven’t watched it in ages.) I never saw The Color Purple, though. I might have to track it down. Not that it takes much to make me cry. I cry at ads sometimes. 🙂

  5. The Little Mermaid was also the first movie I remember seeing! ^_^ I loved the crap out of it!! It’s always been my favorite movie, but I’ve always had dark tastes, so…we’re probably the exact opposite when it comes to that. LOL! OMG, Hunchback? NO! I went into a corner and cried afterward. It was so depressing! I love the soundtrack though. I still play that thing out. I also think the movie is kind of scandalous. LOL!

    But wait…you didn’t like Titanic?!! I literally don’t know anyone who doesn’t love that movie. And Leo is my favorite actor. You don’t like Leo, either?! Oh my gosh, I’m dying right now! You might have killed me.

    1. Yay! That must make us movie sisters! The Little Mermaid is totally awesome now that the witch doesn’t scare me as much.

      You can’t say you didn’t like the gargoyles in the Hunchback. And yes, the music is wonderful. But you’re right, the story that the non-deformed guy gets the girl is kind of terrible.

      Well, I didn’t exactly say I didn’t like Titanic. It was more that I’m embarrassed that I did like it. 🙂 And I do like Leo in some of his movies, that being one of them. (I also loved Catch Me if You Can, another movie my husband won’t watch.)

  6. “The problem is that once you know the ship sinks,”

    WHERE WAS THE FRICKIN’ SPOILER RATING? Thanks very much for ruining the surprise. Jeez.

    My mother loves to remind me that we had to leave the cinema during Aladdin because I was so scared. In my defence, I was three.

    I had a really weird false memory of The Witches. I rewatched it and was mega confused because I remembered an entirely different opening that bore no resemblance to the real one. It was very disconcerting. I can’t remember the false memory now… do I need medical help?

    When I was a kid I rewatched the same movies over and over – Drop Dead Fred, Home Alone, Jumanji, Guest House Paradiso, Matilda, Bedknobs and Broomsticks…

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m terrible at spoiler warning. Since I’ve ruined it anyway, one of them dies.

      I can image Aladdin must be pretty terrifying if you’re three, and I’m not laughing at you at all. Okay, maybe just a little bit.

      I know this one! You come from a parallel universe where everything is the same except the beginning of The Witches. Don’t pry into it or you’ll discover all kinds of things that you don’t want to know. And the other one of you might come back and try to kill you.

      I totally relate. I’m huge on rewatching movies (and rereading books). 🙂

      1. !!! Why don’t you just go to a playground and shout, “SANTA DOESN’T EXIST” you spoiler fiend!

        (I love Titanic. That’s one of the ones I watched over and over in my teens.)

  7. Ooh, I love The Last Action Hero! 😀 For the same reason that I love Demolition Man – it’s so good to see that these big action stars know how to laugh at themselves. (I love all their “serious” action movies too).

    Movies that blew my mind: Aliens, Blade Runner, Terminator 2
    Gave me nightmares: Ringu (the original Japanese version)
    Most fun action: Indiana Jones (the first three movies, I pretend the fourth didn’t happen)
    Favorite rom-com (still today): Coming to America

    Me too, I watched most of the Disney animated movies back in the day. I used to know a lot of the song lyrics too. 25 years since Aladdin came out! Where does the time go?

    1. Yay! Yes, I totally agree on the big action stars laughing at themselves. I have to say I love Kindergarten Cop too.

      I haven’t seen most of your movies, except the Indiana Jones ones, of course. You’re right, they’re great fun action. And Alien(s).

      I think the time gremlins eat it.

  8. I very vaguely remember my Dad taking me to see Watership Down when I was far too small for such things – I think he basically assumed that as it was animated it wouldn’t encompass the full heartbreak and horror of the book (and he wanted to see it). He was not correct, and I believe the main reason I can’t remember it is I’ve blocked it out as a defensive measure.

    Then again, I’ve just checked the release date and I don’t think even my Dad would have taken a newborn to Watership Down, so I’m not sure what’s going on with my memory.

    I remember loving Jurassic Park, but mostly because our biology teacher in high school took us to see it as a field trip, which I thought was pretty awesome.

    The only other movie that really sticks in my mind from way back when is Natural Born Killers – there were only about two other people in the whole theatre, and I kind of wondered what sort of film I’d ended up coming to see – alone.

    1. I never saw the movie of Watership Down, but I loved the book. Or maybe I did see it and, like you, I blocked it out.

      Jurassic Park as a biology field trip is awesome, and even kind of relevant. I never went on any fun field trips like that. 🙁

      I never saw Natural Born Killers, but I think the title tells me everything I need to know. Like, not to go and watch it alone in case the other people in the theatre found it too inspiring.

  9. Well, I believe I have a very long list of movies that stuck with me through time. But the first movies that always pop up first in my head when I talk about movies are “The Goonies” and “The Neverending Story”. Before the 1989 revolution in Romania there were not many movies that passed the censorship of the time, but we had a smuggled video-player and there were video tapes circling between friends. And one of the tapes that fell in my family’s hands one day featured both “The Goonies” and “The Neverending Story”. Imagine what that did for me, it is one of my fondest childhood memories.
    For the latest movies I’ve seen I could say without much doubt that “Pan’s Labyrinth” is top of my list. It is such an awesome film, I loved it a lot the first time I saw it and I am still loving it each time I see it again. And I can’t believe there are 10 years now since it came out. 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I never saw the Goonies, though my husband used to be a fan. And The Neverending Story I loved. I can imagine how much more special each movie must have been when you only got to see a few, though I think movies you see as a child in general tend to be more special than movies you see as an adult.

      I missed Pan’s Labyrinth, but I might have to go and check it out after hearing how much you enjoy it. 🙂

  10. I am right behind you on Last Action Hero. Great stunts, parody and Charles Dance. I guess Hollywood just doesn’t like it when satire comes too close. It works in comedy and pure satire like The Producers and The Player, but I guess action audiences just aren’t versatile enough!

  11. You mentioned two of my all-time favourites, The Fifth Element and The Matrix. Am I alone in watching these movies whenever I feel sad and feeling immeasurably cheered up for some bizarre reason afterwards?!

    1. They’re not my go-to movies for cheering up, but on reflection I think they do make feel better when I watch them. However much my day sucked, their days sucked so much worse (and they nearly died).

  12. Mulan is one of my all-time favorite animated movies. I can’t even tell you how many times my kids watched it when they were growing up. And I agree, The Little Mermaid is a great animated film. I remember some scary sea scenes that my boys loved. I never saw the movie Beauty and the Beast, but I saw it on stage in New York and it was amazing! Happy movie watching!

    1. It sounds like your kids had good taste in movies! At least they didn’t fall in love with something dreadful. 🙂 Beauty and the Beast on stage sounds amazing – you don’t need to watch the movie after that.

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