Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people. I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my blog: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find out where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far — and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.
The first movie that I remember watching on TV was The Wizard of Oz. When the film changed from black and white to color, it magically transported you to the Land of Oz—even on what’s now considered a small screen TV. Personally, I wanted to be Glenda the Good Witch while wearing Dorothy’s magic sparkling red shoes.
There were two other significant TV movie weeks during my growing up years: The week Gone with the Wind aired because it was one of my mom’s favorites, and Elvis Week—a week where every day meant a different Elvis film on TV. I’m sure it was nostalgic for my mom, since she remembered seeing most of those movies for movie date nights.
The first movie that I attended in a theater was Benji. Going to the movies was a real treat for my family, because your ticket, your soda and your popcorn were altogether pretty pricey. The main thing I remember was being awestruck by the size of the movie screen, how the sound effects were grander than on your TV and falling in love with the dog Benji. After that movie, I painted a paint-by-number picture of Benji that went on to win me a ribbon in our local country fair.
The first cultural phenomenon movie I remember seeing was Saturday Night Fever. My brother wanted to see it for his 8th birthday party. Since the John Travolta classic was rated R, my mom had to call of the parents of the kids he wanted to invite to get their permission to take them. It was the first grown-up movie I got to see, too, even though I was 11 and practically a teenager in my eyes.
Movies unite people through their powerful storytelling, their music and their costumes. They are a staple of date nights, and places where both friends and strangers share common experiences. They are a place where we can escape from our chaos for a few moments, and be engrossed by someone else’s story.
I distinctly remember the day after my mom passed away — after all of the arrangements had been made — that all I wanted to do was go to the movies. It wasn’t really an option, but in the midst of my shock and grief, I wanted to be engulfed by someone else’s story on the big screen.
The impact of movies is still enormous, even in this era of home movie theaters. Where you watch a movie doesn’t matter, because what unites movie enthusiasts is how we feel and think about the story after we see it. Movies are usually safe topics of conversations when other topics aren’t; even when we disagree about the movie’s meaning, quality or significance. Of course, there are movies that inspire larger societal conversations, but ultimately, all movies unite those who saw it in some way, and possibly teaching some life lesson — even small ones.
There’s no way to recount all of the life lessons I’ve learned from movies I’ve seen, but here are a few that come to mind:
Friday the 13th – It’s okay to leave a movie when you’re scared.
Terms of Endearment – You can laugh and cry in the same movie.
Arthur (the original) – Sometimes the same movie can make you laugh over and over again.
Reds – The F-bomb made my mom blush. She had to take me, since I was too young to go alone when it came out.
Titanic – Love is timeless.
When Harry Met Sally – Relationships aren’t instantaneous like in the movies.
Love Actually – Holiday romances make my heart patter.
The Intern – No matter your age, you need to keep trying new things.
As I look back at the significance movies play in my life, I knew that a trip to a movie theater had to be included in my #HappinessUnites Tour. My friend Kari and I went to a sneak peek of a movie that I don’t want to mention because we were disappointed by the story, although we both love the starring actress. However, even though we agreed that it was disappointing, it still gave us a story to discuss — specifically, the parts we liked and the parts we didn’t.
They’ve made theaters grander than ever with stadium seating, food and bars, to make sure the ambiance stays magical. On the night we went for my #HappinessUnites Tour at the bar, I met Aaron, who was on his way to see the sneak peek of IT – which has been a fan favorite this year. Although scary movies aren’t my thing, Aaron and I still enjoyed a nice chat: More proof movies can unite us even when we aren’t seeing the same one.
What’s the first movie that made an impact on you? Leave a comment below and let me know!