Almost everyone knows how the rest of the line goes– and that it comes from the iconic film Gone With The Wind. But how many of us have actually seen the movie?
Whether or not we want to admit it, the film industry has had an enormous impact on the social culture of the West. Forget manners, morals, and the like: for now, I’m just talking about the quotations, songs, and plotlines which have become embedded in everyday culture. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize the sources behind these elements. It sounds funny to say that most North Americans are undereducated where movies are concerned. Yet that seems to me essentially what it is.
The Man and I first realized this when, for the heck of it, we tried renting an old Cary Grant movie, North by Northwest. As we began watching it, we both shouted, “Hey, this is like that Family Guy episode!”
And then it hit us. No, the Family Guy episode was based on this movie. We were just too undereducated to have realized we’d been watching a parody of a classic film. We failed to recognize parody as parody, since we’d never been acquainted with the original.
That made us wonder: how many more classic films had made a significant impact in popular culture, or had set the stage for the various movie genres or elements we see today, yet we’d never even heard of them?
We turned to the American Film Institute, which has created two Top 100 American Movie Lists (one in 1998, and an updated version in 2007). Our new project: to watch each movie on the AFI’s lists, and hopefully better educate ourselves.
Finding the movies, particularly the older ones, has been less of a challenge than I expected. Since most of the films on the list are iconic in some respect, many have been remastered on DVD. Although the video stores don’t seem to carry many of the lesser known classics, the local libraries have been a great source (and rentals are free!). Another resource is the Turner Classic Movies channel, which constantly plays old or classic films, some of which are on our list.
We’re nearing the halfway mark, and so far, it’s been an interesting, entertaining, and sometimes, pretty enlightening, ride. Some of the movies, we’ve loved (my personal favorites: Double Indemnity and Gone With the Wind). Some have been, frankly, a chore to watch. We usually end up doing some extra research post-movie to try to understand why the film was placed on the list: for example, The French Connection seemed confusing, but it has that iconic car chase which has probably influenced crime movies for years.
Our AFI project has also been a good way for the Man and I to connect on an adult level. As parents, so much of our conversation revolves around family stuff, particularly the Maiden, even after she goes to bed. Watching and discussing the movies together allows us to enter a whole different realm, far away from kids, school, work, and home. After all, isn’t that the stuff that dreams are made of?