Have you ever been so engrossed in a movie, that when it ended, you were unsure what kind of world you were walking into? Something so thoroughly immersive that it not only changed your thinking (*cough* The Matrix) but maybe even your entire being? We asked our writers what movies left them in a frenzy and an altered state.
One of the movies which pulled me in was Les Misérables. After two hours and forty minutes of singing, I was half-expecting to step out of the theatre and find my fellow patrons belting out their thoughts on the film in full operatic, and employees balladizing their long lines for popcorn and other multiplex plights. If a group of people constructed a barricade, I was ready to wave a flag and do my own rendition of “Do You Hear the People Sing.” Unfortunately, this was not the case and I could only wave a flag in the confines of my home, where I was not a revolutionary but a weirdo.
I walked into the cold spring air, a Sunday before the school week, staring at the stars, cloudless unless you count the Milky Way. My friends feet ground into the gravel of his driveway, his keys jingled in his hand, and he clicked open the Corrolla. “Tom,” he said, the silence of the night stark after the hours watching Fight Club. “You coming?” I nodded but didn’t feel my head move. Did someone else move it? Was he moving it? Was I?
The final Pixie’s song rang in my head, begging me to question my sanity. “Where is my mind…”
I’d watched Hannah and Her Sisters and there’s this bit where Michael Caine’s character seduces the title character with this poem by ee cummings:
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose…
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
And, of course, there was a girl I liked (an actress) and so I went to the used bookstore in Albuquerque that best approximated the used bookstore in SoHo depicted in the film (the store has long since closed) and I bought a collection of ee’s book with that poem in it and I presented it to the girl, hoping my life would imitate Woody Allen’s art.
But I was no Michael Caine and her hands weren’t even small, now that I think about it.
I tend not to get engrossed in movies to a high degree, with one glaring exception:
When I was young, my mother and I watched The Ring together. I was deeply terrified by the film, and I’ve always had an active imagination.
We kept our dog outside, and I was responsible for his food and water. After watching The Ring, I had to feed the dog before sunset, and even then, I would SPRINT back to the house when I was done. This went on for several months. I never grew out of it entirely.
I don’t watch horror movies anymore.
I was absolutely delighted and totally engrossed by Aquaman. Go ahead, laugh; but I for one was enthralled by the traditions and laws of the sea kingdoms, thrilled to see Willem Dafoe ride around on a hammerhead shark, and truly beamed when an octopus played the drums. As a lifetime lover of sea animals/the oceans, I was fully immersed in this underwater world and very invested in the family drama between Jason Momoa’s Arthur and Patrick Wilson’s Orm. Is Orm single? Can anyone hook a gal up? I truly did not want to come back to the human world after seeing Aquaman.
When I watched The Truman Show for the first time, it wasn’t so much that I felt I was stepping into a new world as I was stepping into the real version of the same world I’d left. Movies like that have always left me with burning questions about of our reality, and so when I left the theatre afterwards I found myself in a state of utter perplexity.
Is this world real? Are we being lied to? What’s really going on?
These questions all flooded in with a conspiratorial grace and I had to assure myself I was being silly. Yet, these questions are relevant today more than any other time in my life.
The Truman Show is, of course, dramatic and far-fetched, but it left me with much to think about. I left the cinema the first time I watched it wondering whether I’d know if my whole life had been a staged performance or not? I think we all want to believe we’d know, but perhaps we wouldn’t at all.
We watched the credits until they went black. The house lights never turned up. It was 2005, before that loser in Aurora (who is still alive, unlike sweet sweet Elijah McClain) shot up an entire movie theater. My point? You could still exit through the doors nearest the screen, directly into the parking lot.
10 PM. Fully dark. One streetlamp illuminated her car. A pure white beam reflecting off her Mustang. Red, like a maraschino cherry.
“Goldie?” I murmured, seriously marveling whether the whole world had turned black and white, with bolts of primary colors for effect.
I opened the passenger door, initiating the dome light, which broke the spell I was under.
Sin City was a hell of a movie.
I don’t know if any of you saw Cloverfield, but you really should. And while you can’t go back in time to see it in a theater, you should watch it in some kind of distraction-free, dark room. Also, imagine if you had a time machine and used it on that. Wow. Ok anyways, Cloverfield was a monster/disaster movie when we used to not believe those things were real. The movie was shot to look first-person perspective and that really sucked me in.
When the movie was over, my friends and I got back outside, where it was getting dusky, and none of us wanted to take the Metro back to our apartments, which makes more sense after you’ve seen it. Honestly, I didn’t even want to be alone in the immediate aftermath. We all walked back home, staying together for as long as we could.