Thank you for the picture, Stefan!
The Anniversary Speech
It is my 150 movie anniversary!
I have now watched the first 150 films on the list and I will (fairly) soon have caught up on my lag. As you may know I was already at film number 114 (Robin Hood) when I started my blog, so there has been some catching up to do. At this point the gap is only 22 movies wide.
I will use this opportunity to give a more detailed presentation of myself and what I am doing here on my blog. I love to get that glimpse of other people so it is only fair to provide something myself.
My name is Thomas Sørensen. That is a very generic Danish name, the equivalent of John Smith, and I share it with a whole bunch of people including a former national team goalkeeper. I am Danish, but in the autumn I have temporarily relocated to Israel where my wife got a job. I am in the fortunate situation that I can keep my day job in some form from a remote location. So I live here with my wife and 3 year old son and that is an interesting and very different experience.
In my day job I am a wind energy consultant. The company I work for makes a nice piece of software that helps you find out where to place your wind turbines, how much they will produce and how much they will disturb the neighbors. It is a pretty unique tool and we sell it all over the world. As I am involved in development, testing and consultancies on wind farm projects I get to travel all over the world to teach people how to use it or to work on actual projects. Within the last year I have been to Australia, England, Belgium, Brazil, China, Japan and South Korea. I always loved to travel so in a sense this is really great, though with a small child it is also very hard.
A benefit from all the travelling is that I get to meet a lot people and experience cultures very different from my own. I like to think it makes me more open minded, but it is just as likely to make me more cynical. In any case it makes me quite receptive to movies from odd places in the world and likewise despise very nationalistic themes in movies.
In 2008, just before my wife and I went to Shanghai for 5 months, a friend of mine gave me a book that was going have a big influence on my life: 1001 movies you must see before you die. I only got to delve into it after I returned from China, but then I really got hooked. Very early cinema caught my interest and I started reading a lot about it and I realized I knew absolutely zip. It was quite shocking to find out that before 1940 there were only a handful of films I had heard of and if I had seen them I certainly had forgotten all about them and that includes the classics. In fact I have been blatantly ignorant of film prior to 1970. Here was this treasure throve of pictures deemed classics and I did not even recognize the names of most of them. That was quite a revelation.
I have always been fascinated by mammoth projects where the object is not to finish but the process itself, like reading a dictionary or building some monstrosity and the idea of just starting from one end and work myself through something I will probably never finish appeals to me. So around the time my son Nimrod was born I decided to go through with this crazy project and start watching all the movies in the book chronologically. Very slowly. It soon became my task to feed Nimrod a bottle of milk in the morning and in the evening and so would watch the films in 10-15 minute chunks, which was fine because I had decided to actually buy the DVDs and if I raced through the list this could become very expensive indeed.
I think most people who do the list watches the films alone and I am no exception. My wife is not really into these old films and while I have two good friends who are I have only seen a few of the films with Zsolt and Maurizio. So I started searching the Internet to see if there was anybody out there doing the List as well. So far I have found nobody in Denmark, but I soon discovered Squish and the blog club. Not only were there people watching the List, but also blogging about it! I started reading all the entries to movies I had seen as well and commented on many of them and soon grew deeply envious. This was just so cool! I just had to be part of this community, this was the long sought for outlet for all I wanted to say about these old films. Yet something was holding me back. The bloggers are all so good that I could not possibly contribute with anything new and my pathetic writings would only be the laughingstock of the community. That is until I thought; what the hell, it is just a blog not some sort of exam and my angle would not be an expert review or deep analysis, it would be my personal experience with the films. This is what I look for anyway when I read entries on movies, the gems of personal impressions, and everybody have their own take on the movies they see and are perfectly entitled to it. So one day without thinking too much about it I just went to it and created the most simplistic site on the net and voila, I was a blogger myself.
And the most amazing thing happened: fellow bloggers actually read my posts and commented on it. For that I am very thankful and I would like to send a special thanks to Steve, Siobhan, Chip Larry and Kim for very encouraging comments and my apologies for harassing your back catalogs.
I stick with my plan to watch the films chronologically, but I also have a backlog to fill, which means that I have to watch the first 113 movies again to write something decent about them. I do not really mind though since most of them are good. Also there are a few later films I have reviewed. Those are, ahem, my picks for the blog club. You cannot really pick a movie and then not comment on it yourself, no?
Doing the list chronologically has a number of advantages that I am quite happy about. For one I get a really good feel for the development of the film media and the history it covers. I can see how styles and fashion changes, how techniques evolves, stars emerge and develop and for a novice like me I get the proper foundation to see the next films on the list. Secondly I avoid the danger of taking all the easy film first, ending up with a bunch of difficult and obscure movies. In this way they are evenly scattered out on my road through the list.
A special feature is that I am actually following the Danish edition of the list. This means that about a dozen Danish and a handful of Swedish films will enter the list over time that does not figure in the original version. In those cases there will be both an “a” and a “b” entry on the List.
My taste in film has evolved quite a bit over the three years I have been watching films from the list. Whereas before I would have listed a number of genres as my favorites and others as stinkers I am now at a place where I would say that any genre can be good if the film itself is good. I have found that I love a good musical or a sweet love story as much as a gothic horror or a big production. It all comes down to how well the film is made and many of the best experiences have been total surprises. If I should pick out a single movie from the list as a standout hit for me it would probably be “M”. It just has so many things going for it and I have seen it several times now and love it more with each viewing. In fact I am very impressed with German expressionism and am quite excited that I am now getting into the prime film noir period, the 1940´ies where so many elements of German expressionism are being expertly used.
One genre that has always fascinated me is period film. It is interesting to see a historical event acted out, though as with science fiction the results are often disappointing. Either because the historical facts have been compromised for dramatic effect or boredom due to an overzealous insistence on historical precision. If somebody asked me today what movie I would really like to see made I would say one that takes place in fifth or sixth century central Europe. That period is so full of epic drama and so lacking historical sources that there are both plenty to pick from and freedom to develop stories worth seeing. I would love to see a movie about Alarik and the Visigoth, Theodoric and the Ostrogoth or the most obscure yet epic adventure of the Vandals and Alans. An obvious choice would be the story of Ammianus Marcellinus, a Roman scholar and former soldier who witnessed the barbaric invasions and whose life itself was quite an adventure. This period is made up of the stuff of legends, yet the only story we ever get is that of King Arthur. There are so much more to tell.
Anyway, thank you for reading my posts, I very much appreciate it. And do remember to check out those blogs in the right column I follow. Those are the one with all the good stuff.