In You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan looks for words of wisdom from her cyber friend Tom Hanks.
Hanks obliges with a quote from The Godfather.
Puzzled, Ryan wonders, "What is it with men and Godfather?"
Hanks is quick to reply,"The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question."
I agree with Tom Hanks.
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But it is not just The Godfather. Certain films just become more than a means of entertainment. When a film overwhelms you with its underlining philosophy, carries you with its unique imagination, provokes you into thinking, without moralising -- that makes watching it so much more enjoyable. And the more unconventional and adventurous it is, all the better.
These films stay with us forever. They become personal.
For example, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy is close to my heart. I believe it is inspiring in more ways than one and has something for everyone. Rich in literature, imagination and emotion, Lord Of The Rings has its own culture, language, tradition and myths. It is not mere fantasy, it is also a bittersweet exploration of life.
If one character believes, "There is some good in the world and it's worth fighting for," another says, "Some wounds don't heal."
LOTR is also an action-packed adventure. The mind secretly yearns to be part of this quest.
And that is when Amelie comes in the picture. When you identify with a protagonist, it usually results in a life-long membership in a personal 'hall of fame.' Amelie is almost a fairytale character. Bored with her humdrum existence, she decides to plan her own little adventure. When her bizarre attempts actually bear fruit, she is jubilant.
Sometimes we like a film because of its unlikely hero. Like Shrek. I have seen this Oscar winner 90 times. Every time I watch it, Shrek seems 'one of a kind' in that he sees stories and not future in the stars. He likes his privacy. He is his own person and not apologetic about it. He has heaps of attitude. He is prim and proper.
Besides his character, the superb animation and the witty dialogues, there are two more things to watch out for: Shrek and Donkey's love-hate friendship and the subtle message conveyed by Fiona, "Maybe you shouldn't judge people before you get to know them."
One of the most amazing aspects about films is their dialogue. How many times have we reproduced them at opportune moments? That is why it makes perfect sense to quote Michael Corleone in Godfather when he says, "My father made him an offer he could not refuse," or Matrix's Morpheus's, "What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt in your entire life that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
Billy Crystal's quote in When Harry Met Sally, "A man and a woman can never be friends," is good enough to spark off a debate anywhere anytime.
And then there are legendary one-liners like: "Play it again, Sam" (Casablanca); "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" (Gone With The Wind); "Show me the money" (Jerry Maguire); "I'll be back" (Terminator); "I am the King of the world" (Titanic); and, of course, the very powerful "May the force be with you" (Star Wars).
There are zillions of other catchy one-liners from a variety of films always waiting to be quoted.
Some films also inspire you professionally. In Finding Forrester, there is a scene where Sean Connery explains to Rob Brown, "Your first draft should come straight from the heart." That is always at the back of my mind while writing.
And then, there are those films that hit you. Hard. Usually that happens when it revolves around true-life incidents or war. Like The Pianist, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List.
But, ultimately, anything that triggers the process of creation has to be good. Right?
Do you have films that have become part of your life? Let us know!