My favorite movie of all time is Amélie.
This has not always been the case, though.
At six, for instance, it was The Chipmunk Adventure. If I could magically transport myself into a movie and live out the story, I would have instantly traded my whole future to ride in a hot air balloon in a race around the world. I wanted to see the Acropolis and the Pyramids and South American jungles teeming with snakes and smoky danger.
At thirteen Wayne’s World ruled the screen, as my girlfriend and I rewound the tape what felt like every Saturday night to laugh at Mike Myers and Dana Carvey poke satirical fun at grunge culture. We could quote that movie back and forth to each other during school days and forget how bored we were in class by laughing at the thought of asking our science teacher “a sphincter says what?”
At sixteen, I discovered the pleasures of horror and thrills when The Silence of the Lambs climbed to the top of my list. I briefly considered becoming an abnormal psychologist and an FBI agent because of that movie, until I realized that my love for puzzles didn’t trump my sensitivity and anxiety issues, which would not have fared well under either career choice.
At eighteen, I fell in love with the beautiful ruin that was American Beauty. At this age, life and art demanded I see them through more practiced eyes, and I appreciated the movie’s rich symbolism and biting humor while at the same time basking in its layered complexity.
At twenty, I went through an idealistic phase and Braveheart represented to me the ultimate struggle against oppression. All that was noble in mankind stood out starkly against man’s capability for evil, and I relished the moving portrayal of human struggle despite not understanding how my own could ever merit examination.
At twenty-five my love affair with Austen began, and Sense and Sensibility seduced me with its pastoral beauty and seamless capture of my favorite literary characters. I could escape into that movie and emerge feeling like I’d spent a weekend away at a country cottage with my dearest friends, something I desperately needed given my loneliness and stressed-filled existence.
By twenty-eight, I was learning basic skills for happiness and fulfillment, skills I’d somehow missed along the unpaved road to adulthood. Amélie became a way that I could see someone enacting positive changes despite fear and shyness. Not only did I relate to the main character on such an intimate level, the film itself displays a quirky artistry and a shamelessly decadent rendering of my favorite city. The characters are real, not fluffy Hollywood confections, and at this point in my life I crave authenticity above all. I can watch Amélie without the subtitles and it reveals itself to me like an opera.
Here I am. I can’t guarantee that this will remain my favorite movie even through the end of the year. Who knows where life will take me next…
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