Thursday, June 4, 2009

(Some of) My Favorite Movie Periods/Places

“During which movies have I thought, ‘Wow, I would really love to be there and experience that place at that time?’” This is the final question posed by Daniel Getahun in the process of creating his Favorite Movie Periods/Places Meme (or whatever we want to call it) over at Getafilm. Daniel tagged me to take part in this fun little challenge, and I’m happy to oblige. At least, I think I am. The hard part here isn’t to come up with a list but to narrow it down.

Though Daniel kept the rules open, I tried to select places/periods that, for one reason or another, would be difficult to access in the real world today. For example, I thought of naming the Ferris wheel in Vienna where Holly Martins and Harry Lime have their famous confrontation in The Third Man. But I nixed it because I could easily go there and, in my own mind, recreate the magic. Likewise, I also avoided naming locations that I find fascinating first and foremost because of their historical significance. Otherwise I’d be listing JFK to be in Dealey Plaza, or The Passion to witness, um, The Passion, or, heck, even National Treasure 2 to be in Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. I think Daniel’s intent was to celebrate movie moments, and so, in that spirit, here are six of my favorite movie places/periods:

1607 Virginia, from The New World
It’s not just that I want to know what it was like to see our country when it was “new,” it’s that I want to witness the moment above: the moment when Native Americans saw European ships – structures unlike anything they’d ever seen – approaching in the distance. What a moment that would be to experience – from both sides!

Early 1900s America, from The Natural
This is a film with a tremendous sense of place, from the attire, to the baseball uniforms, to the stadiums. More than anything else, I want to step into the scene above – a place where a train pulls into town and an unknown hayseed pitcher strikes out Babe Ruth (er, The Whammer) while steam drifts from the train engine, and people look on from bicycles and a carnival Ferris wheel spins in the background.

Early 1950s, Hickory High (Indiana), from Hoosiers
“Welcome to Indiana basketball.” I want to watch a high school basketball game in a place where the basketball game is the only thing to do in town. I want to watch it in a gym packed with screaming fans (“We’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you?”) – a gym so small that two lines are needed to define “half court.” I want to go to Hickory High.

1972 Virginia, Rosslyn Parking Garage, from All The President’s Men
Yes, I know. It’s just a parking garage. Yes, I know, it’s a historical event. Kind of. See, there’s no way that Bob Woodward’s real secret meetings with anonymous source Mark Felt were as thrilling as they are in this film, when Robert Redford’s Woodward meets Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) in a creepy garage, amidst wafting cigarette smoke and under the intense pressure of the Watergate investigation.

Turn of 21st Century New York, Tenenbaum Game Closet, from The Royal Tenenbaums
I just love that game closet, okay?

2700 New York, WALL-E’s Trailer, from WALL-E
In a world without life but full of trash, WALL-E’s trailer is a cozy, lived-in, loved home – a sanctuary. I want to go there.

Where do you want to go? Fill in some favorite movie places or periods in the comments section, or keep Daniel’s meme going.


Daniel said...

Thanks for going after this one, Jason! There's definitely no right or wrong here, so it could have been moments, as you listed, or simply just the overall period or place. T.S. at Screen Savour brought up an interesting point of always wanting to know what's going on outside the frame. What was happening elsewhere in (what's now) the U.S. in 1607, for example, or what other places on Earth look like in 2700.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of your picks. That interaction from The New World truly would have been breathtaking, and reminds me of the same scene in Apocalypto. I just can't imagine seeing something - literally seeing it in front of your eyes with no concept of what it is - for the very first time, kind of a Gods Must Be Crazy moment. Short of alien life forms arriving on Earth I don't think there's any possibility for (most "civilized") humans to experience that, and even if that happened it would be colored by what we've seen in movies, TV, books. Weird to think that we've literally seen everything under the sun, even if not in person.

I also dig your choice of All The President's Men (which T.S. also chose) - what a time of intrigue and deceit in Washington. I wonder where secret meetings happen these days...

And since you mention a couple of sports movies, I'd add my interest to revisiting early 90's Chicago, when Jordan was king and every kid on the street had Hoop Dreams, literally.

Great thoughts, thanks again for sharing them!

Anonymous said...

Wow; the possibilities really are close to endless. I'll keep mine succinct and with a theme: late 50's/early 60's via Animal House and American Grafitti (toga party at Delta House for the former; and cruising the strip while listening to early rock and roll on the radio/hitting Mel's Drive-in). A couple of pretty interesting evenings that would be. Of course, tomorrow it could be something completely different (1920's/30's via The Untouchables and The Sting)?

Richard Bellamy said...

Yes, The Natural has a tremendous sense of place and the image you posted - of the pitching challenge - is such a classic scene of early Americana.

My favorite here is The New World. I was considering picking it myself. If I were in that place, then I would be in a Terrence Malick film and I would be in 7th heaven. Well, I know that's not what you meant. I'd still be interested in 1607 Virginia. In fact, I would love to witness most any event in American history.