How do you enjoy your favourite stories?
Do you watch your most loved films over and over again whenever you get the chance, or do you save them for special occasions?
I’ve always avoided watching my favourite films too often, worried that I’ll spoil them. There are plenty of films I love that I can watch on repeat, but they tend to be action movies or chick flicks – fun, but not too deep.
It’s the ones that move me in some personal way that I don’t want to ruin. They’re too special to me to risk tarnishing their impact by over-familiarity.
But when I sat down to think about it, I realised a few things.
The first was that I’ve become so disciplined, I actually haven’t watched any of my favourite films for years. And I’m not just talking one or two here; for many of them it might even be the best part of a decade.
And that gives me a fresh problem. Have I left it too long? Will the films I adored when I was younger mean the same thing, or will they seem childish and mediocre?
I’ve changed, so why would I be inspired by the same things?
I also found it interesting that pretty much all my favourite films were things I first watched in my late teens. They moved and inspired me in some formative way. I’ve watched plenty of amazing films since then, yet none that have made it onto my favourites list.
I don’t consume movies with the same fervour as I once did. And the ones that move me don’t seem to resonate so intensely. I remember crying hard a couple of years ago, watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, because it spoke to me on a personal level. Yet I’ve never watched it again and I wouldn’t say it was a favourite of mine.
But I felt just as intensely as I did with any of my earlier favourites.
Maybe the ‘formative’ part of the experience was the important thing. I love those films because they taught me something about life and love; they opened my eyes and inspired me to understand the world in a more meaningful way.
Now I’m older, I view things differently.
In contrast, I reread my favourite books whenever I can. Sure, that isn’t that often. It takes longer to read a book and the gaps between visits keep it from getting stale.
But I don’t fear that my feelings for a novel will have changed, the way I do for a film.
Maybe I just need a quiet weekend, curled up with a pile of DVDs, to rediscover the films I always loved so intensely.