One more item for Father’s Day: National Post film critic Chris Knight had an article in yesterday’s paper on taking his three-year- old son to his first movie, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!:
When the film ended, we walked hand in hand to the lobby, where he tugged at my arm until he had me down at his level. He has his mother’s blue eyes and his father’s absurdly serious face. “Thank you for the movie, Daddy,” he said gravely and hugged me. You could not calculate a better way to bring tears to a father’s eyes.
In The Film Club, novelist David Gilmour’s wonderful memoir about watching movies with his teenaged son, he repeats this lesson, learned at university: “That the second time you see something is really the first time. You need to know how it ends before you can appreciate how beautifully it’s put together from the beginning.”
If we hold this to be true, it means the first time we really see a movie is often when we share it with someone else. Certainly we see it differently in the company of another. Films can impart knowledge, but they also invite thought, conversation, reflection and dissent.
Part of the joy of filmgoing is to recommend and be recommended good movies. And a joy for any parent is sharing with our children the things we enjoyed when we were young. It starts with fondly remembered books, reading the stories that were read to us; it moves on to movies, travel, philosophy, food and wine. Movies are a wondrous thing to share, for they are forever unchanging, waiting in canisters, video sleeves or discs for the next set of eyes to own them. Like islands, continents, worlds, they exist to be discovered, and there is no limit to the number of times this can happen.
I want my children to discover (as I rediscover) such family films as E. T., A Christmas Story and The Princess Bride; comedies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Duck Soup; adventurous tales like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Lord of the Rings; thought-provokers like 12 Angry Men, Apocalypse Now and Bridge on the River Kwai. No doubt they will not share my love for all of these, and will make their own discoveries and share them with me. The wonder of watching our children grow apart from us includes the opportunity to grow together.
Hear, hear. Knight ends the article by saying that he is thinking of taking the wee tyke to see Kung Fu Panda: “I’ve only seen it once, on my own, which means I’ve never really seen it at all.”