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The Wonder of the Cinema

A Year in Movies Retrospective

A Year in Movies

When I began my experiment to chronicle all of the films I watched in a single calendar year, I was not entirely sure what the results would be.  Over the years people would ask how many films I had seen.  My answer was usually, “a couple thousand.”  At one point the TV series, miniseries, and films I had rated on Netflix was about 5500 in total.  Netflix no longer provides such data on my viewing habits.

So what did I learn from my year in movies?

1. 90 films in a year isn’t that many.  Well, it was actually a down year for my film viewing even with 90 viewed.  I was teaching a new class this fall and did a fair bit of work fixing up my house so I didn’t have as much free time as I had in years past.  Some years–like my first year of full-time teaching–I did not have a TV(or cable service) and watched films via Netflix’s DVD service.  I think that school year I went through over 200 films/shows.  It helped keep me sane.

2. Failures.  I should have written about each film in a complete blog post.  What started as an in-depth viewing and chronicling of film became simple list making.  Additionally my entire numbering system of the films I did write about is incorrect.  Fail.

3. Missing films?  I’m certain I have missed a number of films I did watch, so my actual number may be over 100 for the year.  Here’s a few films I know I missed: Batman: Year One, Age of Heroes, The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel, April Morning, Love Actually, Emperor, Casablanca, Chariots of Fire, Judgment at Nuremberg, Wimbledon, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Red Ballon, and Skyfall among others.

I think that watching films can be not only entertaining but also instructive.  It doesn’t happen often but if you are actively thinking during and after a film rather than merely absorbing it… you can have an epiphany.  I had one watching and pondering Baz Luhrman’s noisy and garish The Great Gatsby.  If you missed that post check it out here.  If we let them, films can tell us more about ourselves just as much as the world around us.  They can tell us about our own hopes, dreams, and fears.

One of my favorite things about watching movies is they can be a window into another time, culture, or place.  Before the Rains was a window into pre-WWII India.  The Wizard of Oz, a window into 1930’s Kansas.  Invictus into post-apartheid South Africa.  The Red Machine into pre-WWII US-Japanese relations and even a little spycraft.  Some are also a reflection of how our culture views itself.  The fear of terrorism in Captain Phillips, Zero Dark Thirty, and even Star Trek: Into Darkness will give future generations of viewers a peek at, well, us.

So at the start of 2014, I wish you all happy movie viewing!



About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...


One thought on “A Year in Movies Retrospective

  1. Loved this retrospective–especially the ending reflection about how movies teach us about ourselves, our cultures, and our history. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by redpenconfessions | January 2, 2014, 6:39 pm

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