Because the Berlinale is taking place in Berlin and the Oscars are soon to come I’ve decided to write a post about movies I’ve seen as a child, which is quite a while ago, and affected me. Mainly I mean three movies that scared the shit out of me because I saw them at an inappropriate age. I’ve couldn’t be older than 9, 10 or maybe 12 and watched them on TV. On week-ends we were allowed to stay up as long as we wanted – as long as we stayed at home – and we were allowed to watch the late night movie. Most of the time it was an old western starring John Wayne, James Stewart or Audie Murphy. Therefore I had a total crush on Audie Murphy but never told any of my friends about it. Why? Because it is even today kind of embarrassing to confess. I was pretty naive and way back behind my classmates in that days. And in the days that followed as well.
But that is not the kind of inspiration I was about to write. On one saturday night my Dad and I watched a boxing match from somewhere across the pond. Don’t asked me what fight it was or when or who. I wasn’t into that crap but my Dad liked it and I liked spending time with my Dad, even in front of a TV. But that fight was over pretty soon because one of the opponents got knocked out in one of the first rounds. As a substitute to fill the leftover airtime the channel showed Rosemary’s Baby and I wasn’t tired yet and stayed in front of screen.
I didn’t watch the whole movie, but I can tell you, I’ve learned from the part I’ve seen always to be suspicious about the people living next door – especially when they seem to be nice people, trying to help you out.
The second artwork that shocked me was Planet of the Apes. Which in my memory I’ve watched with my older brother on a late afternoon, but I’m not sure about that.
Besides the fact that I suppose this was the first movie I saw that had no happy ending, like in all western I saw before, it inspired me to see our sunday afternoon visits of Wilhelma from a different angle. And I still believe that caging of apes is a crime we are going to pay for someday. Besides destroying their living environment and so on and on. I don’t want to stretch that.
The last movie that build my character in childhood was Wenn die Gondeln Trauer tragen (Don’t look now). I watched in with my mother as we both weren’t tired enough to go to sleep while the rest of the family were already in bed.
As a good catholic she advised me to cover my eyes during the sex scene and being a good girl who did as she has been told (I hope that grammar is almost right) I peeked only once just to see Donald Sutherland sitting naked at a table when the maid came in. I didn’t have to cover my eyes on the slaughtering scene at the end of the movie because, you know, it isn’t a sin to a catholic to watch someone else getting slaughter in a movie. What I took from this movie is as follows. On one of the next days I gave a more than vague description of the movie to one of my friends at school which basically included the dwarf in the red cape and the tragical but somehow exciting ending of Donald Sutherland. That catched the attention of a teacher who wanted to know what kind of movie I was talking about. I couldn’t recall the title and went on with explaining the plot (not very good I guess) and added that it all played in Venice and was about a couple and a lost son… So the teacher guessed it must be the movie Tod in Venedig after a novel of Thomas Mann which she told me so.
And that brought me to my parents bookshelf because I knew the name Thomas Mann, my Dad might had mentioned it before. So looking for this novel all I found was Buddenbrooks. Coming in a period where I started to read everything that I could find, the more pages the better I started with Buddenbrooks which was so my first book could be described as sophisticated literature. I was just shutting the chapter of reading girls literature be about adventures with their wild horses or visiting a boarding school with your twin sister or solving crime cases with 4 friends and a dog. To be honest, I didn’t finish Buddenbrooks on that first attempt. After a few hundred pages I couldn’t follow the plot, got confused with the amount of characters and for some other reasons getting bored. I skipped to Gone with the wind standing next to Thomas Mann on the bookshelf and being almost as voluminous as Buddenbrooks. That one I finished and pleased my mother who like the book – and the movie – very much.