I had not watched Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic since sitting on my living room floor, popping in the well-worn VHS, and being amazed day after day. The film has been a childhood necessity for a generation. Having re-watched it, I could recall ninety percent of the shots, much of the dialogue, all of the scenes. It was the first time having seen the anniversary edition with new and embarrassing digital effects. It is these that I blame for making me wish I had simply the memory of the film and not a recent encounter.
Increasing the family friendliness of the film, the guns wielded by G-men were digitally removed and replaced with flashlights and walkie-talkies. Their at-the-ready trigger fingers can still be seen awkwardly protruding beyond the edge of their handsets. In a similar and much more degrading, unfortunate, and nostalgia shattering fashion, numerous shots of the creature itself have been digitally glossed over making his CGI-smooth skin stand out like a poorly conceived superimposition. In a matter of minutes all the wonderful feelings I have associated with the film for the last 15 years of my life left me. Much of the effect of the alien is its tangibility as Elliot interacts with its hairless features. I am not going to try and reconcile the reasons for which the film has been tampered with.
I had not watched Gore Verbinski’s 2003 swashbuckling epic since about fall of 2006. Thus the film was much more in my recent memory and not tied to childhood feelings of freedom and wonderment. It was a film that I had gorged myself on during its release and for a few years following. And despite its vast commercial appeal and societal immersion I remain devoted to its fanship. This is not to say I don't find it easy to identify problems with its technical and story elements. But more than any other movie in my young film interest days, POTC had the most impact on me wanting to make huge movies. Such a feeling does not continue, for the moment at least.
More than anything, in the last few years I have come to realize how my life is defined by movies. In particular, this refers to the chronology of events in my life. Any important moment is recalled based on the movies I watched on each side of it. There are times when the quantity of films watched spikes. Other times, I go weeks with only watching a few. Thus films serve as mental retrieval cues for my memories and I can only hope that someday I won’t know whether a memory is mine or is taken from the cinema.