Friday, November 2, 2018

What film 'broke you?'

A few weeks ago I went with Brian to see the newest version of A Star is Born It was my second time seeing it and Brian’s first. Okay, gang, I won't sugar coat it-I love Cooper’s telling of this tale. The star who is born is Bradley Cooper, and I can’t get enough of it. I have heard that people love it and people absolutely hate it. I get it-I really do. I have seen all of the previous versions of ‘Star,’ and honestly, I had to go into Cooper’s version by separating myself from the others. I went in telling myself that this was an entirely new film. 
What this post isn’t is a review of the film, what this is, is a question for all of you  When Brian and I walked out of A Star is Born, he was moved to tears and couldn’t speak. We walked a few blocks in complete silence. He had seen the Frederick March version and absolutely loved it. In fact, he still declares it the best; however, he walked out of the Cooper telling of the story, turned to me and said ‘ No other film has ever made me feel the way this one has.’ 
That statement probably should have made me feel bad for him, but instead, I was elated. After many years of trying to explain to him why a classic film or indeed what all films mean to me, he was finally getting it. He was having his first real emotional reaction to a movie. He felt what many films made me feel on any given occasion. I watched as he worked through this emotional roller coaster of feelings.
I truly loved this entire thing because I felt that he was now going to understand it all and he was now open to a whole new film-watching experience.
Do you remember the first film that made you feel that way?
There are several that made me feel so many emotions.
I remember feeling complete devastation when Leonardo DiCaprio killed himself in Romeo+Juliet in 1997 (the movie came out in 1996, but we watched it on VHS over and over a year later). As I sit here writing this on my laptop as an adult 21 years later, I can see me and my sister, and our best friend Jessica sitting in front of my grandparent's television watching it over and over at their tiny house in Dawson, Nebraska. We memorized each song, each line as we cried hysterically and ate chocolate ice cream with potato chips crushed up on top.
My first real heartbreak, the real heartache I truly understood came from William Wyler’s 1939 version of Wuthering Heights. I saw Laurence Oliver’s face and was totally mesmerized that beautiful sunny day in 2002. We lived on Barada Street, and all of our windows were open as Brian mowed outside. It smelled like grass as I watched Heathcliff tell the tale of Cathy. My heart broke as I cried and cried. For days I thought about the two ill-fated lovers and teared up.  A great film sticks with you for days; like a ghost, it haunts you. 
Months later I found myself up late for a Silent Sunday night on TCM and was introduced to two films that broke me wide open. It was one actor that made me realize that a movie can make you feel so many different things. I met Lon Chaney in a film that I still consider the greatest silent film and the most exceptional acting performance of all time, The Unknown. I was blown away. To this day I can’t find the words to describe how Chaney’s performance made me feel. I was so moved by his portrayal of Alonzo The Armless Wonder. I know, I know, you wouldn’t expect a couple of circus movies to the turning point for me, but they were.  The other was He Who Gets Slapped. I was so haunted. I remember turning off my TV and lying there with my eyes wide open for hours. I had gone from hating Chaney for being a bad guy to sympathizing with him for loving a woman so much he would do anything, to feeling his pain deep within my soul, to being so terrified of him in another movie where his clown get-up is the most terrifying thing I have seen….I mean. My emotions were all over. No actor had up to that point or since then made me feel the way Chaney did. I knew I felt my emotions a little deeper than I had before when it came to a movie and there was no going back. Films were in my blood now. I tried to explain that to everyone I knew but until you found that movie that ‘broke you open,’ you didn’t understand. 
Which brings me back to A Star is Born. I loved it, and it did give me goosebumps and made me cry and feel many things a newer film hadn’t made me feel in a long time. I didn’t expect it to give me the feeling it did, but I am so glad it did, but I'm even more glad it broke Brian open like Chaney did me so many years ago.
I would love to know what film ‘broke you open?’ We all have one that emotionally ‘destroyed’ us in the best possible way. Let me know yours!


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