Posted at 5:02 AM on March 24, 2009
by Euan Kerr
Later today on All Things Considered you can hear my interview with Variety magazine Senior Editor Robert Hofler about his new book "The Movie That Changed My Life."
It's a collection of interviews of politicians, executives, military bigwigs, and other celebrities on the films that had a profound impact on them. John McCain credits Marlon Brando's "Viva Zapata" for igniting his interest in politics, and Larry King blames his life long hatred of computers on Kubrick's "2001: a Space Odyssey." Several people noted they were traumatized by "Bambi."
I have to admit I am having trouble pinning down one film which changed my life. I have had several obsessions, ("The Blues Brothers," "M. Hulot's Holiday," and "Rashomon.") but nothing I could claim redirected what I do on a daily basis.
But what about you? I am interested to hear which movies have changed you life?
You can listen to the first part of the Hofler interview below, but then feel free to wax lyrical in the comments section.
I can't think of a single movie that has changed the trajectory of my life, but I can trace my deathly fear of spiders to a movie I saw as a kid.
That would be "The Incredible Shrinking Man", which featured Grant Williams, less than an inch tall, fighting for his life against a spider at the end of the movie.
The spider is RIGHT OVER HIM, its mouth clacking open and shut, and the hero impales it with a safety pin. And gets covered in icky spider-blood for his trouble.
That made a huge impression on me, and while I never had any problem with snakes, I can't stand spiders.
I watched 'lost in translation' after coming back from a trip to South Korea, and it was the first time i had been back ever in my life since i was adopted at two years old. And watching that film was very moving, because it was like a great closing chapter that captured the exact feeling of myself in an Asian country. The beauty of traditional Asia with the new Asia. The ebb and flow of the film through the hotel and through Tokyo captured my feeling of being 'lost in translation' in Seoul.
During my first semester at the Univ. Wisconsin in 1973 I saw Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in "Enter the Dragon". I had never seen martial arts nor seen human beings move as fast or as powerfully. Even though I was not athletic at all, it was tremendously exciting to see the control they had. I wanted to be able to do those moves and immediately joined the UW karate club and have enjoyed practicing karate, judo and aikido in the 35 years since. Never had to use it for defense, but the self discipline and physical fitness have been a great benefit dealing with whatever life and work bring up.
When I was a college student in the late 60s, I saw "The Battle of Algiers", a film that depicts an episode in the French-Algerian War from 1954 – 1960. Both sides were using violent tactics--there were no "good guys" or "bad guys". It was really the first time I had truly realized how a situation can be ambiguous. The Algerians were being pushed unjustly beyond rational limits, yet they were using terrorism to fight back.
The film affected me on an unexpectedly emotional level. I watched it again about a year ago and there were so many similarities with the war in Iraq. The scene at the end of the "Battle of Algiers" suggests that the French may have won the the battle but will eventually the war--is this what will happen because of our intrusion into Iraq? We have not learned from history.
Dr. Strangelove, for the way it exploded all the hypocrises and perversions of the military-industrial complex. So many great characters and so many quotable lines. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/
I saw the movie Old Yeller as a young child, I was so sad, bereft at the end of that movie. To this day I can not watch movies about animals, it brings back those painful feelings. I was a quiet, shy child and never really told my parents how upset I was by this film.