5 Films I Saw When I Was 5
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “what’s so special about watching movies when you were five years old? Every five year old has watched movies.” Well, as it turns out, you and I aren’t talking about the same movies.
No, actually I’m referring to “Classic Movies.” Movies your grandparents actually saw in a theater. And the strange thing is, I love them. I re-watched them multiple times every year for a decade. That was just the weird thing about me back then. Not every film kept my interest. But a select few that you would otherwise never suspect, actually entertained me quite a bit. And although I wouldn’t cover these particular films in full on this blog, I can talk about them briefly in this context. It will also shed a little bit more light on the kind of person I am and my personal history.
So here we go.
Number 5: The Ten Commandments
Unlike its cousin, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments is a slightly more kid friendly feature, with a more theatrical design, brighter colors, a somewhat more jovial cast of actors, an omniscient narrator in the form of Cecil B. DeMille that doesn’t cause you to get too wrapped up in the drama, and a less heavy dramatic weight to the story. All of which make this film an easier sit for a young kid. The grandeur and the gravitas of the film was no less impactful then than it is now. And I appreciated the old-fashioned tone and atmosphere to a lot of other films I had been watching at the time. It was almost a comforting film. And it allowed me my first chance to experience the acting powerhouse that was Charlton Heston: whom I feel is the only actor ever capable of portraying a biblical figure with both grace, humility, unwavering passion and strength of character.
This film also offered me a unique perspective when I went to go see the Dreamworks epic, The Prince of Egypt just a few years later in 1999. And I was then able to compare the experience of both films. And I would have to say dramatically, The Prince of Egypt hits things home a lot better with how Moses and Ramses are portrayed. They are more emotional and 3-dimensional rather than two robotically stoic figures who blindly move to the beat of their duty and their hubris. I am rather interested to see what Ridley Scott has in store with his new take on the story, Exodus: Gods and Kings.
I have a feeling it will be a bit short of the mark, but will still be an astounding film in many respects. Though from what I’ve seen in the trailer, I think Ridley went a little too far with the barrage of fire tornadoes.
Number 4: The Sound of Music
I actually saw Mary Poppins a couple of years later. So this was my introduction to Julie Andrews, and just as charming of an entry in her filmography. I always found this film a unique treat, because it was impressive even at 5 to watch as Maria would help reshape the children’s outlook on life, and slowly warm the heart of their father: who starts off as a strict and straight-laced task-master. The scope of the film is gorgeous, the music catchy and memorable, the cinematography bright and inviting, and the characters relatable. I especially always enjoyed the opening number “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”
Number 3: Planet of the Apes
I may not be entirely sure of the exact date that I watched all of these other films, but I do know the precise circumstances under which I saw this. It was a random day while staying over at my Grandfather’s house, and a few of my aunts were there, apparently recording a Planet of the Apes marathon on television. And while the marathon was going on, I sat down as it had begun, and watched the entire first film, and its sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It was so distinctly different from anything my 5 year old eyes or ears had experienced at the time.
This whole world of bleak expanses of desert and tall grasses. A crew-member dying from old age due to a crack in the hyper-sleep chamber. The concept of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the nature of man in the Universe. And the strange goings on of a society of Apes who consider humans lower life-forms. The grit and the Earthiness and the stench were extremely palpable from this movie. They even presented it in its proper aspect ratio even on the small screen, which was also a new experience at the time: since most films were zoomed in to fill up the whole tv.
Furthermore, I think this is the first film that ever entranced me with the concept of the horrific and the unknown, the strange and the unexplainable, and the wondrous possibilities of time and universe. Because just what would it take to send Earth’s civilizations into chaos, and allow the Apes to evolve and take over law and order? What does it mean if you find yourself back where you started, but thousands of the years in the future? And what strange things might one find out there in the wilderness if you look hard enough? That’s especially a good question when it comes to the sequel.
Most people look to 2001 as a work of science fiction and filmmaking genius. And while I don’t deny that, I ended up watching 2001 from beginning to end when I was about 9 years old. And it did not nearly interest me or entice me as much as Planet of the Apes had. And while the new Apes films may be drumming up new fans for the franchise, these new films will never be able to recapture the shock and surprise, nor the level of filmmaking craftsmanship that the original film had done. And I will always remember my love and appreciation for this movie.
I also really kinda wish I had seen this clip from the Simpsons way back when: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n8BPv43vhE
Number 2: The Wizard of Oz
I’m far less entertained by this movie than I used to be. It’s more of a novelty and far more a children’s film than a lot of things were at the time. And while I firmly believe that just because something is a “children’s film” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected or giving its dues, I can’t help but feel like this film has nothing more to offer me. I watched it so much as a kid to the point that it over-saturated its images in my head. And as I grew older, and the amount of movies we owned continued to stay relatively the same, I ventured into our more mature titles and to renting more films from our local library to even out my viewing habits.
However, at the time when I was 5 years old, The Wizard of Oz was indeed an impressive film. The change from Sepia to Color was a magical experience. The color itself was impressively vivid and vibrant. The set design and shot compositions were nearly seamless, creating a theatrical but tangible world way before green-screen technology. And the characters were lovable and entertaining, especially the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard effects were also really awesome to watch. I think the latter half of the film were always my favorite parts anyway.
Number 1: The Music Man
Perhaps the one film I watched the most, The Music Man was a musical delight and an extremely funny film for a 5 year old. My favorite numbers were always “Ya Got Trouble,” “Wells Fargo Wagon,” “Shipoopi,” and the “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little” Haromony. And no, I didn’t like “Shipoopi” because it sounded like it was about poop. I don’t even think I knew exactly what they were saying at the time. I loved that song because it was really fun and energetic, and I adore energetic songs, from any era. Now I may have been a bit squicked out by the romantic portions of the film and Marian’s song near the beginning of the film: but even by the time I was 10 and 12 I had started to appreciate those parts more and more. Of course I was starting to go through puberty then, so it makes sense.
I think I was also drawn to the many varied voices and characters in the film. The Music Man is filled with character actors, all putting on their best cartoonish exaggerations of stereotypes. Robert Preston is the lively showman/con-artist, Buddy Hackett is the loyal quirky side-kick and right-hand man; Paul Ford is the bumbling, stuttering, loud-mouthed man-in-charge; Hermione Gingold is the prissy, almost aristocratic artsy-fartsy first-lady of River City, and even Ron Howard plays up the lovable little boy with the adorable handicap. And don’t tell me you don’t find yourself loving Tiny Tim more because he walks with a crutch. It might not be fair, but that’s what we do, and during the 60s people tended to play up stereotypes far FAR more than we do these days.
And to top it off, my two most favorite moments in the film besides any of the songs, were when Tommy lit that firecracker under Mrs. Shinn, and when Harold proves that he taught the children to play when he conducts the band in front of the City Council and its citizens. Because it finally proves that he wasn’t a total con this time. He actually genuinely wanted to help these kids because of Marian.
So there you go folks, 5 films that I saw when I was 5 years old. Or there abouts. I can’t always be sure about this sort of thing way back when. But I’ll try to do something similar with maybe 10 films when I was 10, or 12 TV Series when I was 12: but I’ll cover stuff that I wouldn’t normally cover otherwise, that way I don’t double up on something I’ll do a review on later.
Catch you in the new month, everybody.