My mother took me to see the movie Gremlins in the theater. I was probably way too young to be seeing it. I think it was maybe the second time it came around in theaters. (Back in the olden days of my youth, if a movie was really, really popular, they used to send it around in theaters again after the initial run. There was still a demand for it, and people weren’t able to just go out and buy a VHS tape of it to watch in their home endlessly at their leisure. VHS—see, I dated myself again.) It wasn’t a giant multiplex like they have now. It was a small theater downtown with only two screens, one theater was not much bigger than the average living room. Somehow this made the viewing experience more intimate.
Okay, I may have shown my own son Gremlins too early as well.
And I would not even have suspected walking out of the theater that the movie had affected me at all. But then we went to go eat at McDonald’s. We ate in our car, because my mom is weird like that, then she sent me over with the empty bag and wrappers to the garbage can, a duty I usually loved. But suddenly I didn’t want to push open the little brown swinging door and leave my hand so exposed like that. The scene from Gremlins flashed in my head where the guy is trying to mail a letter and a gremlin pops out of the mailbox and starts chewing on the guy’s hand. My overactive child’s imagination could picture that happening, and it scared me.
How many movies now a days do that for you? For any child, even? Do they believe that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will really pop up out of the manholes in the street?
I remember when my mom took me to the same theater to see The NeverEnding Story. I don’t even remember any marketing for it. I don’t think there were ads on television; I didn’t beg to go see it. She just took me because she thought I would like it. Or maybe because she wanted to see it, I don’t know.
“It’s not real; it’s only a story!”
Because the theater was downtown in our closest, but small local city, we had to walk down a block, through an alley, and back to the parking lot where our car was after the movie. The tallest buildings are probably only four stories, tops. But the alley and the tall buildings were enough to give me the impression of the city Bastian lived in in the movie. And so I looked up in the blue, sunny sky at the smattering of clouds, and I BELIEVED that Falkor could fly over us at any moment, as he had at the conclusion of the movie. It was thrilling. I felt it in my blood. I have NEVER forgotten that feeling.
And I am not sure that I have ever experienced it since.
Are children going to walk out of the theater and believe that Transformers can really fly through the sky over their heads? Maybe. But they also can go home and play with plastic toy versions on the floor in their bedrooms.
Part of Falkor’s magic was that you could not go buy a stuffed one in the store then. (You probably can now. If so, buy me one and then call 555-GUN-GLOW for the address to ship it to.)
This weekend the Rave theater near us had special showings of The NeverEnding Story. It might be greedy or stupid, but I yearned to be in that theater again when the theme song blared through the speakers, blocking out all the other sounds of popcorn and candy wrappers and slurping straws as clouds churned on the screen. I wanted to walk out of that theater again and believe that Falkor could be flying in the sky. Really, I was hoping my son would have a similar experience to what I had in 1984*. It turned out he wasn’t as impressed by it as I was. There could be several factors to that, including that he has seen the movie before on DVD in his own living room.
But, seeing it again was AWESOME. Maybe, sometimes, movies can still be magic.
Ever wonder what happened to Bastian, played by Barret Oliver? So did I. So I found out and wrote a post about it. It angers the dreadlock community. You can read it here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/01/13/what-i-learned-this-week-1132013/
Just a reminder I have an event this Sunday: The Kerrytown BookFest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For more details, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/events/
*All the awesome things came out in 1984: The NeverEnding Story, Punky Brewster, Night Court ❤
Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish For – AVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It – THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a Bug – WHERE IT ALL BEGAN!