Monday, 24 June 2013

The First Movie I Did Not Watch


Last week Gib Van Ert, author of the recently reviewed A Long Time Ago, tweeted some warm words for my review. You know me, it always warms my heart to hear an author referring to my review. I therefore thought I would pay him back for his tweet. I would do so using his own currency: I would repay the author of a book about growing up in the shadow of the Star Wars franchise through my own previously untold Star Wars story.
First, an introduction. As mentioned before, I tend to regard The Empire Strikes Back as the first movie I ever got to see at the cinemas. I remember the experience quite vividly: my uncle took me to Shahaf cinema at Tel Aviv's beach on the first day of third grade to see the matinee show; the big pre-multiplex era cinema was empty with the exception of younger yours truly, my uncle and another mustached, bold person with a coat (in summer!); the Dolby Stereo sound hit home; my uncle measured the duration of the film with the stopwatch on his brand new and by that era's exotic digital watch, to record a creepy 2:00:01; and this particular escapade started a movie going career lasting a few years and featuring my uncle taking me to the movies on a weekly basis. That glorious period of my life ended when severe ill health prevented my uncle from attending the cinema anymore (cancer can do that to a person). The last movie we watched together at the cinemas was Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock at Ben Yehuda cinema, where he had to rush to the hospital half way through and my father came to pick me up instead. All I can say is that throughout our mutual career at the cinemas my uncle always measured the movie's duration with his stopwatch. It was our thing.
Now I know I watched me other films before Empire at the cinemas, but none left a lasting impression the way Empire did. Hence it being my official first, like it or not. However, Empire, as we all know, is a sequel. So, what is the story of Star Wars? Why wasn't that movie my first ever at the cinemas?
Let us take our time machine for a ride again.

I think I was seven years old when my parents came back home to report their latest night at the movies. I seem to remember my father saying they saw a really fun film and my mother saying they saw a nonsense film. Me, I went to bed when they came back home.
At the time I was attending speech therapy sessions. For years I couldn't pronounce Rs and Ls properly, generating Y sounds instead for both. By the time I got to school I managed the Rs but the Ls still challenged me; in order to avoid mockery and to prevent learning blockages, my first grade teacher - probably one of the best I ever had - recommended speech therapy.
Once or twice a week my mother would pick me up from school and instead of us going home we would take the bus to the center of Tel Aviv, alighting near where Tel Aviv cinema used to be. From there we would walk to the vicinity of Mugrabi cinema, where the speech therapy clinic was. This very nice young lady would play L games with me: I got to build a building block by block each time I pronounced my Ls properly but witness their demolition every time I fudged it. Not only did the sessions work, I also enjoyed them. La la la!
Anyway, during that inter-cinema walk to therapy we crossed a weird advertising area of a type I haven't seen for decades now: aligning the street were glass covered movie advertising boards telling us what's playing using small, perhaps 10" size photos. The weird thing about it was there were no cinemas around; it was just a cavity in between residential buildings.
I remember one of those photos very clearly: it featured this huge masked guy, dressed in all black, lifting this tiny guy, dressed in light colors, with one hand and thus strangling him. Both were surrounded by futuristic looking robot like people. I didn't know how to express my feelings, but that photo made me curious. I asked my mother about the film the photo came out of.
My mother told me this was the movie she saw with my father the other week, that movie that was all stupid. Forget about it, she said. This is not a movie for you. Maybe she said it because strangling is not something a child my age should be exposed to? That's what I thought at the time. I did remain curious, although I also took her word for it.
Needless to say, I grew up since. I grew up not to take anyone's word at face value, for a start. And I grew up to know that if someone tells me something is not right for me there's a good chance that something would turn out to be quite attractive. Especially if they cannot come up with a good reason why.
Let that be a lesson to all you kids out there: do not turn out to be like me. Do not miss your chance at Star Wars. Question everything!


Image: Star Wars


25/6/13 update:
I apologize for the awful editing/spelling/grammar on the original post. I do have an excuse: I wrote this post on my Windows PC, as opposed to my Mac; and the screen on that Windows PC is a pale shadow of the Mac's.
What I am trying to say is that my eyesight is at a stage where the quality of the screen can have significant impact on the quality of my output. There's a scary thought for you.

Second 25/6/13 update:
Gib Van Ert posted about this very post in his blog! Wow!
I learned my lesson: having failed my first go, I booked myself an eye test.

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