Saturday, August 11, 2007


Reading Friday Screen Test: Cinebeats, I was reminded that, while I actually appreciated most of the editing in Friday Screen Test: Neil Sarver, there was an entire answer missing, of which I was fairly pleased and have meant to post myself nearly every Friday since.

So, here is is. The question was, "Is there a year that was particularly memorable for you as a film watcher?"


I was already into movies by that point. In fact, I can't recall not being into movies. Unlike most of my peers, I can't think of a movie like Star Wars that hooked me on movies or moviemaking. I remember quite clearly wanting to see Star Wars because I loved movies so much.

1980 is the year of Popeye and The Elephant Man.

Like all the other kids, I went to see Popeye to see Mork from Ork play the hero of the Fleischer cartoons. Unlike many others who were confused, bored or generally disappointed with the movie, I was fascinated by the verisimilitude of the world and the richly developed tapestry of characters from Elzie Segar's Thimble Theater. I would soon come to understand this as partly the result of its director's style.

It took some effort at that time before home video, but I'd manage to merge the LP version of the movie MASH, which contained dialogue and music from the movie, along with the original novel, the hugely successful series based on it and eventually a deeply censored television cut of the movie in my head into some understanding of his breakthrough movie as well.

The Elephant Man was as close to a religious experience as I've ever had. At once real and impressionistic, it became the whole of my understanding of art, or at least the cinema art. I suspect I still subconsciously judge many types of movies based on how they evoke the emotional and intellectual responses I had to that movie.

This led to my first experience making the effort to watch the Academy Awards, and, of course, my first in a lifetime of disappointment in the Academy's judgments when it was completely shut out.


Adam Ross said...

Wait, that's not right -- how did that answer get left out? Hmmm, must have been the intern because I usually make a point to have the 'year' question as the conclusion. I'll be sure and fix it, because that was a good answer.

Neil Sarver said...

Oh. Cool. I didn't expect that at all. I'm glad to see it in with the others.


cinebeats said...

I'm one of those odd people that thinks Popeye is a rather surreal and entertaining movie too. I've never understood why it's so hated.

Neil Sarver said...


I think the movie sadly has far too few defenders... it's too quiet for the cartoon crowd and too goofy for the art crowd. It's too bad, because it certainly has held up for me over the years.

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