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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

what movie has most inspired you in your life?

edwood

When you love movies so much that they’re a part of your life, it’s impossible not to find yourself taking on bits of their philosophies and attitudes. In that vein:

What movie has most inspired you in your life?

Perhaps a film actually inspired you to do something or learn something. Perhaps it’s merely a positive feeling that a particularly film left you with that has lingered longer than a moviegoing experience usually does.

This is far from the only film that has inspired me (I’ve mentioned others repeatedly in the past, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Fantasia), but I’m going to pick Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Some days I wish I could share Wood’s unflagging confidence in himself and his work. Perhaps Johnny Depp’s portrayal is not a strictly accurate reflection of the real Wood — or maybe it is; I don’t know — but it must be nice to be so assured of oneself in a very unsure industry. Of course, Wood was completely deluded about his abilities and his talents, but Depp’s Wood, at least, never knew that, and took total joy in his work. We should all be so lucky.

Your turn…

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)


  • soirore

    Desperately Seeking Susan. OK it made me want to live in New York which I never have, but growing up it was always comforting in what it has to say about identity. You don’t even need to know who you are to be who you are.
    Once I saw Celine and Julie Go Boating later it made even more sense, as well as identity being both known and unknown, yours and hers, you can move between fiction and “reality” in your story. That’s a good way to live.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    The Sound of Music. It is a movie with a whole lot of potential…I watch it with my kids and it opens up a ton of different topics that we can talk about; introducing the turmoil of war, of the Nazis and the imprint of war on our lives (our neighbors have a WW2 bunker in their backyard and our streets here were once the path of triumphant US soldiers, the language here is another remnant of the past.) And it is inspiring (“Climb every mountain!”) sober and heartbreaking, but still hopeful in the end. My 10-year-old daughter says “it’s mostly about singing.” I agree, if you can still sing, you’re blessed.

  • Karl Morton IV

    Only because I watched it last night, Freddie Francis’ eyeball-caressing photography of “The Innocents” makes me wanna pick up my camera again. My GOD that is a pretty movie.

  • Hank Graham

    First, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” It was the first movie that got under my skin, and made me love movies as a way of telling a story that takes over our mind like a dream. Younger folks probably got their definition of adventure from “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but this was the one that defined adventure for me.

    Next, “2001,” which took me in three different directions.

    The first of those was directions was curiosity about that imposing personality, Stanley Kubrick. Love it or hate it, “2001” is the vision of that one man, and after seeing it, I became interested in the folks who made the movies I loved.

    I stopped talking and thinking about the movies as Humphery Bogart movies or Clint Eastwood movies, but as Stanley Kubrick movies, or Steven Spielberg movies, and so on.

    The second direction had to do with the technology of movies. How did they do that? And I put myself to finding out. There are times (especially with some of the modern effects films) where I like the technology better than what they’re doing with it.

    Finally, there was the philosophical discussion that movie began. “2001” is very much a movie that intends you to wonder where we’re going, but it doesn’t really have a presented opinion on that subject. The cycle from man-ape to man to superman could be optimistic (we transcend our current limits) or pessimistic (we advance, only to do the same things, again and again) depending entirely on your reading of the film.

    Nice question, MaryAnn.

  • Jonathan Roth

    “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

    I’d always loved cartoons, but Roger Rabbit was the film that made me sit up and take notice, get interested in the history of cartoons, the characters, the animators and directors. Who was responsible? How was it done?

    When I dropped out of Biology for a career in art, animation was the route to take. I’ll never be the next Chuck Jones or Richard Williams, but I’ve had a solid and interesting career in tv animation, and made some great friends.

  • Drave

    The Wizard of Speed and Time. It’s one of the weirdest freaking movies I’ve ever seen, but I have undying love for it because it’s got such a homemade feel, and it absolutely shines with creativity. It may be my favorite movie ever made about the creative spirit. Also, it rages against everything that frustrates me about the studio system. I wish more people had heard of this movie. I wish it would someday get a DVD or BluRay release. In the meantime, you can watch the entire thing for free on YouTube.

  • Kirk Aplin

    I must admit after much thought, that although movies have inspired and informed much of my life, the most profound video experience came from three examples of “science factuals”; three Tomorrowland entries on Walt Disney’s TV show: “Man In Space”, “Man And The Moon”, and “Mars And Beyond”. They sparked an interest in space, and man’s endeavors there, that have never left me. They undoubtedly influenced my decision to take up mathematics and physics as a life work, despite my academic interest in other areas, and their realistic portrayals made space exploration not only seem possible but inevitable. Many other influences deepened my interest: the art of Chesley Bonestell, the books of Isaac Asimov, the adventures of Star Trek, and, of course, the overwhelming cinematic experience of Kubrick’s 2001, to name a few, but those three TV shows were first, and most influential.

  • Danielm80

    Near the end of Magnolia, frogs start to fall out of the sky.

    At that point in the movie, every character is facing a major crisis, and there’s no reason to believe any of their lives will get any better. And then, suddenly, frogs begin to drop on them, like a plague out of the Bible. This is never explained. Some days, it just rains frogs.

    Once in a while, I’m going through a crisis, or I’m watching the news and a politician is doing something absurd and destructive, and I think, “Some days it just rains frogs,” and then I go on with my life. I’m not sure that counts as inspiration, but it gets me through the day.

  • soirore

    that’s so beautiful and useful. Films *should* provide us with stuff like this to help us through the day!

  • CapeWindy

    DEAD POETS SOCIETY. Fanned the flames of teaching and has always haunted me with its powerful themes and message.

  • LaSargenta

    I’ve been thinking about this question since you asked it and after much thinking, I’m going with the first movie that came to mind when I read your post: Cousin, Cousine. (Most definitely not the horrible US re-make, by the way.)

    Not that I really understood the message that resonated inside until I was deep into a rather unhappy marriage; but, I loved it when it came out and saw it four times in 6 weeks (longer runs then, back in the dark ages of the 1970’s) and practiced my french with lines from it so much that my teacher at school told my mother I sounded very Parisienne. To me, it was a movie about good sex and happiness and friendship and being free from hypocrisy and that all those things were linked.

    Took me a while to get there, though…

  • theElliottQuest

    Need to watch YES MAN… change my life I swear to God. It’s a silly movie but here I wrote about it http://wp.me/p4g3Gz-7I

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