Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top Ten Films That Left An Impact On My Life

Life is an interesting thing. Many have pondered over several years whether we shape our own destiny or if we have a predetermined plan for ourselves. An unavoidable fate, if you will. For the longest time I was a firm believer that we choose our own fate. There was no predetermined plan, be it by some divine being or another spiritual intervention. Then, as I grew older I began to ponder and even consider the possibility that our futures are, for the grander part, out of our control.

Now I find myself delving into a new theory. It’s strange and in some ways humorous how when I had no clue what I wanted, and if I did, how to get it, life seemed so simple. It was fun. I was, to put it in possibly understandable terms, Forrest Gump. Innocent and living life, not really understanding what I was getting involved, in but sure as hell enjoying the ride while it lasted. Now, in a somewhat ironic joke, as I find myself being more certain than ever of what I want, life seems to be throwing more obstacles my way.

You might be thinking ‘Hey, C-Rav (or whatever you might call me), what’s all this pondering got to do with the title of this blog entry?’ Good question. As I was thinking about life, the idea of film came into my mind. As a major fan of all sorts of film, it’s safe to say this medium has had some influence of my life. In fact, a career involving film is just one many aspirations I have. This got me to thinking about what films over my lifetime have had some impact or influence on my life.

Now, with the great foresight I have, I can tell some may look at these films and potentially wonder what exactly these films could possibly have done to me. They may not all be revolutionary, and the affect may not have been the intended one, however I can’t put it any other way other than: These are films that impacted ME. And I shall try my very best to explain how.

10. Follow That Bird
Directed by: Ken Kwapis

Plot: The Sesame Street gang stars in their first feature film as Big Bird finds himself being sent to live with a family of Dodo’s thanks to the meddling of a social worker. However Big Bird finds himself a mess and homesick and sets off on foot on a journey back to Sesame Street, encountering several characters and adventures while his friends search for him.
Hardly a revolutionary, or even culturally significant film…save for the Sesame Street connection, which itself has become one of children’s programming’s most significant series’. However Sesame Street and its classic and lovable characters dominated the greater part of my childhood. From books to toys, the series was easily a significant part of my childhood. While there were other things I was into as a young boy, Sesame Street definitely took the top honor. In fact, several of the stuffed animals and toys I owned still reside in the storage room of the basement, a keepsake of simpler times.

So it should be no surprise that the first feature film starring the infamous Muppet characters had a large impact on my life, the childhood portion at least. I can only really rely on my parents for this information, as my memory is somewhat foggy, however they attribute many of my early learning skills, such as spelling, vowels, and numbers, and to some extent, life lessons, to Sesame Street. Not a far stretch seeing as this is was one of the series’ intentions and it did in fact, deal with several serious life issues: including death. While the film itself didn’t focus tremendously on this, it did have the important message of home and family. Big Bird leaves to be with his ‘own kind’, yet learns that it’s with the family he’s always known and loved that his home and heart truly belongs. A message that as an adopted child I can easily take something from.

Random Fact: Cookie Monster was, and remains to this day, my favorite Sesame Street character.

9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore & Peter Coyote.

Plot: E.T tells the story of Elliott, a lonely boy who befriends a friendly extra-terrestrial named "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth after being accidently left behind by his family. Elliott and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government agents searching for “E.T”.
One of the first films I can remember seeing as a child, E.T 's story is one I can relate with. Firstly, with Elliot, as a young and shy boy who wasn’t always interested in what the other children were into, I could relate to Elliot’s loneliness and yearning for a friend. Inspired by director Steven Spielberg’s own desire to create an imaginary friend following the divorce of his parents as a child, the film also allowed me to relate to E.T. An unusual and out of his place creature, E.T was born in a different world and suddenly thrust into a new one where he was, simply put…different. As with Elliot, I could relate to E.T’s ‘fish out of water’ situation for a vast majority of my life. In fact, to this day I still somewhat feel out of place with my family and friends from time to time.

E.T also taught me something that to this day, while still not an easy thing to deal with, I was prepared for thanks to this in film to some degree. Sacrifice. Elliot is forced to let his best friend go, and in doing so has grown from the boy he once was. While there are still those friends who will stick around forever, many of have come and gone in my life and some under rather dramatic circumstances. While I can’t attribute the film entirely to this, some of the credit towards me being able to deal and accept one of life’s unfortunate inevitabilities must go to this film.

From relatable characters, an important message, and even having the one scene that to this day still gives me chills, E.T definitely deserved a spot on this list.

Random Fact: A photograph of me as an infant surrounded by several stuffed animals, including an E.T one, resides in this household and is not unlike the scene in which E.T himself hides from Elliot’s mother by surrounding himself in sea of stuffed animals.

8. King Kong (1933)
Directed By:
Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack
Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong & BruceCabot

Plot: Film director Carl Denham finds himself unable to find an actress to star in his latest picture, but chances upon the unemployed Ann Darrow. Hesitant, but finding herself with nothing to lose, Darrow agrees and sets sail with Denham aboard the Venture, a vessel headed for Indonesia, where Denham claims the film will shoot. As the ship heads towards its destination, first mate Jack Driscoll becomes increasingly attracted to Ann and a romance begins to grow. Little does anyone realize that their journey will bring them to a lost, prehistoric island where they will encounter a giant gorilla named “Kong”.
As far as what kind of impact this film had on me, it was simply a film related one. As a young and headstrong child, I had this ridiculous notion that all ‘old films’ sucked. I can’t quite say why I felt that. I was a kid, so I was an idiot for starters, but perhaps the lack of realistic effects and grainy footage put me off older and classic films for the longest time. King Kong was the first one I really watched in my older years, and it changed my perception forever.

It introduced me to the origins of CGI visual effects. Before computers, stop motion animation was the state of the art tool used to bring the imaginations of filmmakers to life. It may not look entirely real compared to today’s standards, however it was fantastic for its time and to be fair, is some quite impressive work even today. It also presented a fresh and original story. A simple one, but as we all know the story of King Kong has become a classic in film history. Essentially my first look into old fashioned filmmaking and the beginning of special effects, it also was a highly influential film, prompting myself to attempt this technique several times with my own short films.

Random Fact: After viewing this film, I had convinced myself that this was the type of special effects wizardry that I was capable of doing with my limited resources and developed an idea for a Jurassic Park remake using this form of visual effects to create the dinosaurs. To date this idea is unrealized.

7. Bowling For Columbine
Directed By: Michael Moore

Plot: Filmmaker Michael Moore takes a look at the tragic Columbine High School massacre and other acts of violence with guns and the nature of violence in the United States. Through meetings with several notable individuals such South Park co-creator Matt Stone, the National Rifle Association's then-president Charlton Heston, and musician Marilyn Manson – he seeks to explain why the Columbine massacre occurred and why the United States has a high violent crime rate. Probably the most overplayed documentary, if not FILM in general, during my High school and college years, Bowling for Columbine was probably my first look into a non-nature related documentary. Being relatively young at the time, I had no real concept of what the Columbine massacre was. To be honest, this was my first look into the tragic event. It was also a very insightful film, providing me with information and facts that I must admit, were new to me at the time.

It also left a lasting impression on me. This may sound a little too profound, but it did give me a much darker look at humanity. I was only 14 at the time, very little negativity was really on my mind…at least concerning world events. Bowling for Columbine really introduced to me the atrocities that man is capable of doing to one another. In some sense, one could say that it was the beginning of me learning that the world for the most part is, unfortunately, a rather scary and dangerous place.

Random Fact: I first saw Bowling for Columbine in the 8th grade at Beaconsfield High School, in a Wood Tec. class.

6. Brokeback Mountain
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Heath 'King' Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Randy Quaid, Anne Hathaway & Michelle Williams.

Plot: Brokeback Mountain depicts the complex relationship over 18 years between Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two young Americans in the west who meet and fall in love while herding sheep on the fictional Brokeback Mountain.
I feel as though I have to apologize before continuing this portion of the list. Some of the things I say here may be misconstrued and may give one the wrong idea about me. At first, I am ashamed to admit that I was one of many who was quick to dismiss this film as ‘the gay cowboy movie’. I wasn’t, nor am I to this day, homophobic. If I have to credit myself with anything it’s that I’m not a hateful person based on race, sexual orientation, gender or religious beliefs. However the subject matter of this film was something I found myself being apprehensive about. In spite of the buzz, many were ridiculed for seeing and even liking this film. I can remember jokes about the film being made constantly in high school, and in some way I think conformity hit me and I let my apprehensiveness get the better of me.

Following the tragic and untimely death of what I now recognize as one films greatest actors, Heath ‘King’ Ledger, I found myself needing to see this film given the amount of praise the late actor received for his role in the film. I regret ever feeling the way I did to this day. Brokeback Mountain is an incredible film. I let the label it had convince me it was propaganda, or a ‘gay’ film. Yet it wasn’t that at all. It was a great love story that any one, be they heterosexual or homosexual, could understand or even relate to.

While I generally never was a conformist, I did tend to go with the flow now and then. This film, for better or worse, kind of helped put an end to that. However, more importantly, it made me get over my insecurities regarding the subject matter. While I have absolutely no problem with homosexual relationships in any way shape or form, I was uncomfortable with the idea of seeing that on screen in such a way that had been drilled into my mind by the media and general reaction. I’m proud to say finally seeing the film helped me get over that unfortunate flaw I’m sad to say I had.

Random Fact: It took me two tries to get through Brokeback Mountain, as the first time got bored and turned it off.

5. Star Wars or Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Directed by: George Lucas
Starring: Alec Guiness, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing & James Earl Jones.

Plot: Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars tells the story of the Rebel Alliance, an organization of freedom fighters dedicated to overthrowing the oppressive Galactic Empire. At the center of the story is Luke Skywalker, a farm boy from the dessert planet of Tatooine who longs for a greater purpose and adventure in his life, who finds himself in possession of two droids who carry the plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon: The Death Star. With vital information to the rebellions efforts to destroy the Death Star now in his hands, Luke is thrown into the role of a hero as he must accompany wise Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on a quest to rescue rebel leader Princess Leia, deliver the plans to the rebels, and destroy the Death Star…unless they are stopped by Empires most feared agent, second only to the emperor himself: Darth Vader. Aside from being on the greatest and most imaginative films of all time, Star Wars allowed for a lot of family bonding here. However, it did capture my imagination a great deal. George Lucas took several archetypes and molded them into the iconic characters and creatures of the Star Wars universe we know today, such as Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and many more. Mix that with a classic story of good versus evil and revolutionary special effects and Star Wars couldn’t help but captivate from beginning to end.

However more importantly, upon its release in 1977, this space opera became what I commonly refer to as ‘My Dad’s TDK’. Like many in that time, he was absolutely blown away by the film. Sure, the story of a simple peasant, guided by a wise wizard to rescue a princess from unspeakable tyrannical evil had been done before. However George Lucas created a whole new and never before seen universe, a world that to this day remains in the conscious of the general public. And so, Star Wars became a favorite franchise of my father and upon having children of his own, shared the film them. Not only did this experience introduce me to a wonderful film, it also allowed for some bonding to be had between my father and I.

My two brothers are the ones interested in what some might call ‘manly stuff’. Cars, electronics, tools, and all that. So, naturally my father could connect with them easily. While I do have an interest in those things and can more than hold my own with the best of them, I was always more interested film and related subjects. While my brothers were reading car magazines, I was reading about what films would be released, or Steven Spielberg’s biography novel. Star Wars offered a common interest that my father and I could share. In all honesty, while I do love my father and he me, it’s one of the few things we can share equally. To this day, Star Wars remains one of few, if not the only, series of films my entire family enjoys and can watch together. And occasionally, we all take that trip together to a galaxy far, far, away.

Random Fact: While Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was the first Star Wars film I saw, I didn’t get heavily into the series until my father took the family to see Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999.

4. It’s A Wonderful Life
Directed By: Frank Capra
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, & Henry Travers

Plot: The film tells the story of George Bailey, a man who has sacrificed many hopes and dreams for the better of the community of Bedford Falls. However, a life devastating disaster drives George too take his own life, but not before the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence who shows George the influence his life has had and how many lives he’s touched.
This timeless classic is one I must admit I’ve only begun watching every Christmas Eve in the last 5 years or so. There really isn’t much to say on this besides its inspiring story reminds me of one of life’s greatest truths: Every single life on this earth matters.

Time and time again, I wonder if I’ve made, or will make, any considerable difference in the world. The inevitable question of “do I matter?” always comes up once in awhile. Sometimes it’s hard to tell myself that I’ve made a difference. That I’m important. However, this film always reminds me that while we may not change the world, or become famous and rich…sometimes the smallest actions can have the biggest ramifications. I couldn’t tell you if I’ve made an important difference in someone’s life. I’ve been told I have by a few, and yet sometimes I wonder if that was ever true. I can’t tell you if I will make a difference, big or small, to someone close, or to the world. But because of this film, I can look and tell myself that I probably have, without ever even realizing it. The film, for lack of a better explanation, taught me that we are all important.

Random Fact: Unfortunately, Christmas 08 was the first since the tradition started that the film was NOT watched on Christmas Eve, as my parents were at a party that night and me and my brothers watched several classic Christmas specials on DVD.

3. The Dark Knight
Directed by:
Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Cain, Heath ‘King’ Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal & Morgan Freeman

Plot: The 2008 sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight follows the unusual partnership of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Commissioner James Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent in their war against crime in Gotham. The effort to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets proves effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker. Stop rolling your eyes. This is in my opinion, as many of you know by now, a complete and utter masterpiece from start to finish. So this should be no surprise to see this on my list, and this high nonetheless. So not only does it have the ‘greatest film ever made’ title going for it as far as how much its impacted my life…there’s more to it…

“You Either Die A Hero, or You Live Long Enough to See Yourself Become the Villain.”
Batman makes the choice to take the blame for Harvey Two-Face’s crimes in order to ensure that the criminals he imprisoned aren’t released and that the city will remain optimistic, hopeful. As a result, he is forced to allow Harvey to die a hero in the public eye, and lives to see himself become public enemy number one. Essentially, he makes things worse for himself so that things can be better for everyone else.

I’ve found myself in situations like this a few times. Where one decision I made would be more beneficial to myself, give me what I need or wanted, keep me safe, ensure stability. However the other option, while generally more beneficial for others…hinders my desires. This quote gets me thinking about how we generally are screwed. We can be noble, but chances are we will suffer for it. Or we can be selfish, and get what we want but ultimately lose ourselves.

An incident involving my mother, which I’d rather not get into much detail about, forced me take action. It was a decision that lead to the worst night of my entire life. No, there was no beating or physical violence involved. It was just…awful. The choice I made was more beneficial to me, to be quite honest. Well, in my defence, it was also beneficial for everyone involved, but I must admit I was thinking of myself in that case as there was long history attached to this incident that I didn’t want to see repeated. This was a disaster. And while I was physically unharmed, to this day I still remember that night and the things that were said. They still resonate with me. I tried to do the right thing, and suffered for it. That night I died a hero.

Without getting into too much detail, another situation I found myself in, I had to pick whether or not I would reveal information…potentially making a bad situation worse. I chose not to, for the better of everyone involved. In doing so I didn’t help my own cause, and was painted as the scoundrel of the situation. I lived long enough to see myself become the villain.

“The Only Sensible Way To Live In This World Is Without Rules.”
It’s more fun to be bad. Let’s admit that. That’s not to say there are some moral grounds on which I’m proud to say I stand by. Cheating. Murder. Robbery. Assault. Just one of a few ‘bad’ things that I personally believe to be wrong. However the little ‘bad stuff’ is always fun. I’m the kid who skipped classes and created an elaborate cover stories involving getting lost in the city. I’m the kid who, with the help of a friend, convinced my entire high school that they could get free burgers at the cafeteria, creating mass chaos. The list is rather endless to be fair.

This quote got me thinking about how structure and order are constantly being broken. And as a result, more enjoyment, more thrill is found than in following the safe and sound ‘rules’ of society. I remember having a debate with someone over this ideology. My opponent’s argument was that rules keep us in line. Without them we’d be as savage and dangerous as ‘jungle people.’ This puzzled me. Those not bound by rules and conventions of western civilization are, from what I gather more free and prosperous. They aren’t bound by politics and judgements. They thrive on life and spirituality. Not oppression and religion. It makes me realize, that being bound and restricted only traps us. Some things need to be broken, bent, and explored. Again, I stick to my previously mentioned idea that some things absolutely are wrong, but perhaps…there a few little things that don’t need to keep us in line. For lack of a better explanation: Maybe the world needs to thrive on chaos.

“You See Madness, As You Know, Is Like…Gravity….All It Takes, Is A Little Push!”
How much can we take before we ultimately snap? It’s easy enough to label Harvey Two-Face a villain for his actions. In fact, I would agree that his deeds were wrong. However when you take a better look at his reasoning’s…what drove him…perhaps The Joker is right.

There’s an old idea that evil resides in all of us in some capacity. That all it takes is one event, one tragic circumstance to cause an individual to, simply put, snap. The Joker proved this to be true. Harvey Dent was not only horribly disfigured, but he lost the love of his life. His entire world. He had one bad day.

How many of us can say that after being wronged or losing something special to us, that we wouldn’t lose our minds. Try to rectify the situation. Take revenge, or as we may see it: justice. Emotions are powerful tools. They can drive us to do crazy and potentially dangerous things. Sadly, I can’t say that I wouldn’t react unlike Harvey Two-Face. Because I have.

No, I haven’t killed anyone, nor have I threatened to kill anyone. However, following some incidents where I was essentially pushed too far, vengeful desires and actions were taken. No one was hurt in anyway shape or form…maybe myself. But the truth remains: I was sent down an abyss that thankfully didn’t last long or have any permanent damaging ramifications. Except perhaps for myself, as I said.

It just makes me realize that there is a hint of evil in us all, and while we may be able to contain and control it…there could always be that one thing, that single situation, that could drive to take dark actions we could regret for the rest of our lives.

All it takes is a little push.

“You thought we could be decent men, in an indecent time! But You Were Wrong. The World Is Cruel. And The Only Morality In a Cruel World, Is Chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Far.”
Probably my favourite quote in the entire film. It says so much in just those few sentences.

We can thrive to be good people. We can work our best and have the best intentions. We all have faults, and we can aspire to be better people. We can be good. But sadly…the world sucks. Evil, bad people, douchebags…they seem to always come up on top. History has shown that the good can prevail, but ultimately evil will likely have already achieved its nefarious goals. Take a look at the rise and fall of Hitler. Sure we came out on top, but the damage had already been done. Murder on the highest level possible was committed. Nothing could take that back. Sadly, I’ve come to believe that the good people, the ones trying to better and improve things are going to be stomped by the evil. We can try to get what we want. We can have the best intentions possible…but we’re going to fall short against those willing to make things worse to get what they want. Nice guys finish last. Evil often prevails.

Harvey Two-Face’s reckoning of morality is, in a warped sense, correct. Is it morality if the model citizen gets a nice paycheck while a man who committed a small crime is labelled forever and unable to find employment? Is it morality if the bully who teases an innocent child gets away with it because he is more powerful and intimidating? No. Life is based on what benefits and what cards are dealt to us. We have to do the best with what we have. But how can we all be equal if we’re not given the same resources and opportunities. How can that possibly be considered fair?

Fairness comes only from chance sadly. We’re not likely to all get equal treatment and chances to get the things we want. Therefore, the only thing we can rely on chance. It doesn’t choose based on how strong we are. How good looking we are. How rich we are. Our personalities. It’s random. No one has an advantage over the other. The is no upper edge for one and dead end for another. That’s the only morality in the world. Chance is fair.

“He Wanted To Prove That Even Someone, As Good As You…Could Fall.”
“And He Was Right.”

There really isn’t much to say on this one. I suppose some optimistic side of me felt that there were those out there who could overcome any dark temptations. I was a firm believer that not everyone could turn to the dark side. However, a few years worth of experience has shown me that is not the case. Everyone has the ability to give into the dark temptations. We can set out with the best intentions possible. We can have no desire to hurt anyone. We can have no need to do wrong. And yet, I’ve seen friends become enemies. I’ve seen good things go bad. I’ve seen good people turn into monsters.

The sad truth with is: Even the best of us can fall.

“Why’s He Running Dad?”
“Because We Have To Chase Him.”
“He Didn’t Do Anything Wrong.”

I couldn’t possibly find a better quote to end this The Dark Knight portion of the entry on. It essentially sums up everything perfectly. Batman didn’t do anything wrong, and yet he’s fucked. How many of us can look at a bad situation where we were royal screwed…but we can safely and assuredly say we didn’t do anything wrong?

From making choices that could paint us as heroes or villains, to breaking conventions and rules, to falling down a dark abyss, to the unfairness of life and the world in general, to good people falling from grace….in any situation most people can say they never intend for wrong doings to occur. Yet, they do. It’s a sad fact of life. Sometimes we just have to accept that these things happen. Sometimes we just have to take the punches and roll through. Unfortunately that’s easier said than done.

Especially when you know you didn’t do anything wrong.

The Dark Knight at first was a film that to me, represented society’s response to terrorism and villainy in general. How far do we go to stop those who threaten us without becoming the very thing we vow to destroy? However, after a close inspection of this genius work of filmmaking, The Dark Knight offers a much more personal look at life in general. A bleak one at that, but a true one. Sure, The Joker has been defeated by the end of the film, but as with Hitler, the damage has already been done. Rachel Dawes has been killed. Harvey Dent snapped and went on a rampage to justify the wrongs made against him. And Batman, having lost everything, took the burden all for the better of the city. He hoped on his batpod, and drove off into the night. All of us are capable of being Rachel’s, or Harvey’s, or Batman’s. Hell, even Joker’s. All of us are capable of being royally screwed.

All this to say, aside from becoming the greatest film of all time to me, it also serves as a reflection and reconsideration of my beliefs and views on the world these days. The Dark Knight’s messages and philosophies are ones I’m finding myself agreeing with more and more.

Random Fact: A ‘Which The Dark Knight Character Are You?’ test revealed me to be The Joker.

2. Schindler’s List
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall & Embeth Davidtz

Plot: Schindler’s List tells the story Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.
My mother is a huge history buff. Particularly the World War II and Holocaust era. It probably stems from having relatives who served in wars, and relatives who were killed for hiding Jews during the Holocaust. She has, to her best efforts, attempted to pass this history and knowledge of these horrific events on to her children. I first watched Schindler’s List at around the age of 13 or 14. What a lasting impression.

First and foremost, it was shocking. Seeing these atrocities towards man portrayed on screen was chilling to a degree I can’t even explain. In fact, aside from in entertaining forms such as in Robocop or Terminator, Schindler’s List was quite possibly my first witness of a murder on screen (not real of course). A cold and violent act done not for thrills, but to depict the brutal reality of the time. That stuck with me. One such scene involved the one armed factory worker who, as the rest of Schindler’s workers shoveled snow off the streets, is pulled aside due to his disability and shot in cold blood. Spielberg then cuts to a close up of the old man’s head as the blood pours out of his skull. For some reason, that scene bothered me. It stuck with me. I was shaken by it, possibly because of how the Nazi officers in that scene seem to take absolute pleasure in their actions. It was certainly one of the lasting images the film left me. In fact, to this day I still find it uneasy to watch that scene especially.

Additionally, on a more positive note, Schindler’s List showed me what was my first look at a truly inspiring story based entirely on reality. Oskar Schindler initially sets out to profit from the war and the dire situation the Jews were in. He was using them. However over time whilst witnessing these crimes against humanity and with some help from accountant (and eventually friend) Itzhak Stern, Schindler begins to grow and realizes the ability he has to protect these Jews. It’s a rather far cry from my last film discussion where I said darkness pretty much consumes and often prevails in the world. And while I do still believe that, its films…or true stories like this…that remind me that even in the darkest hours there ARE good people out who can rise from the ashes of evil and make the things ok again.

If Bowling for Columbine was one of my first real look at the brutality man is capable of doing, then Schindler’s List was another, and more insightful and impacting, entry into my outlook on the world. As depressing as that sounds, Schindler showed that people are capable of good as well. That any hopeless situation can have a glimmer of hope. Things can be okay. Like the Holocaust itself, Schindler’s List helped me to see not only what unspeakable evil man is capable of, but also the selfless and heroic beings we can be as well.

Random Fact: Liam Neeson is the figure shown standing in front of the real Oskar Schindler’s grave at the end of the film. This fact that was known to me, won me $5 against my brother who insisted otherwise.

1. Jurassic Park
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Martin Ferrero, Bob Peck, Samuel L. Jackson & Wayne Knight

Plot: Jurassic Park tells the story of John Hammond, a wealthy visionary, who invites a group of scientists to inspect his newest park prior to its public opening. Little do the guests know that the main attractions of the amusement park are cloned Dinosaurs. However, sabotage sets the dinosaurs loose, and the technicians and visitors attempt to escape the island.
Here’s what I remember: My father, grandfather, and I (At the age of around 4) are getting in the car. The dirt road, my mother holding my brother who is whining because he wants to go as well. We depart. I can only recall the screening room of the theater. The seats, the floor, the walls…a burgundy color. I was sitting in the seat between my father and grandfather. The lights dim, the curtains open. The film begins.

To this day I still remember that film experience.

Jurassic Park was probably not the first film I had ever seen. It was however, without a doubt, the first to leave a lasting impression on me. Aside from being my first movie theater experience (and what a film to have that experience with eh?), it also completely captured my imagination. The Brachiosaurus sequence, in which we get or first good look at a dinosaur, remains to this day my favorite scene in film history. The way the camera reveals the dinosaur…the CGI, which in my opinion still stands strong even against today’s special effects, the brilliant score….just how that entire scene plays out is pure movie magic. Top that off with the amazing ending sequence in which the Tyrannosaurus Rex unintentionally saves the lives of our heroes and triumphantly roars after his victory as the ‘when dinosaurs ruled the earth’ banner falls below in front of him…. Genius!

Needless to say this captured my imagination. It got me into Dinosaurs first and foremost, a fascination that sticks with me to this very day. I got all the Jurassic Park toys and sets, got unrelated Dinosaur toys…everything Dinosaur related. They came a close second if not a slight first to Sesame Street as far as what took over my childhood. My walls were covered with dinosaur designs. I had a dinosaur carpet. The Jurassic Park toys I loved as a kid…some are still in this household…some are still in this room!

It also had an impact on my ambitions. Initially, this film inspired me to want to become a paleontologist. The idea of getting down in the dirt, digging for dinosaurs bones…making new discoveries. Awesome. Then as I got older, Jurassic Park introduced me to the works of Steven Spielberg. This led me to discover greats films, masterpieces, such as E.T, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course, Schindler’s List. THAT in itself lead to many more directors, and many more films. Thus, my love for film grew. And now, it’s what I want to do. I want to make films. I want to have my dreams and imaginings realized. I want to create a wonderful world and adventure, or an important story, for audiences. I want to create an experience for people, the same kind that Jurassic Park gave me. Film is my favorite medium. Jurassic Park started that all.

However, more important than how it dominated my childhood, or how it affected my goals and ambitions…Jurassic Park created one my best and earliest memories of me, my father, and my grandfather. Both men of great importance to me. There really isn’t much more to say on that other than I’ll remember that experience forever.

Random Fact: Young Sebastian would try to get his grandfather to properly pronounce the world ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’, with no such luck.


It’s funny. This was not my intention at all when I started writing this blog entry…all I wanted to do was share the films that had left some impact on my life. In the end I ended up taking a good look at myself. Today, before…potentially the future. It’s interesting, in reflecting on my past…both the good and bad…I don’t know what to make of life at the moment. It’s sporadic. One thing something great, amazing can be thrown your way…and then suddenly, like with Harvey Dent, it can all be taken away. Somehow I think writing this entry has allowed me to somewhat vent and take a look at how I feel about everything in general. Yet interestingly enough, I’m not sure that I have any more solutions that I did before.

It’s funny. In looking back I’ve remembered good times and bad times. In reflecting I’ve taken a lot into consideration. I’ll have to figure everything out one step at a time.

But if one there’s one thing I’ve learned through these films throughout my life, it’s that even though darkness and tragedy plays an unfortunately large role in the world and life, there are lights at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. Magic. Miracles. Good can prevail. I’m not sure how to go about things now, I know where I want them to go, but as I said…one step at a time. I’m going to remain optimistic.

Hopefully the lessons, and feelings, and lasting impression these films have will help me. They’ve lasted this long in my mind, I’m sure they will continue to as well. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed.

Random Fact: And to reveal my new theory on fate and destiny, I think we all have purpose. A reason for being. It’s just up to us as to whether or not we get there.