' ' Cinema Romantico: Inspiration Comes in Many Ways

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Inspiration Comes in Many Ways

This evening the AFI (American Film Institute) will introduce its yearly Top 100 List. This year's category? The 100 most inspiring movies. No doubt their list will be fairly accurate with a few glaring omissions and some incorrect ordering. But Cinema Romantico thought it would be a good idea to contribute to all the ridiculous hyperbole with a list of its own. No one likes arbitrary lists more than Cinema Romantico, after all. So today I will unveil my most inspiring movies. Not the movies which I think sum up inspiration for the general public but movies that simply inspire me the most. And feel free to list below some of the films which stir you. (Note: "Last of the Mohicans" and "Million Dollar Baby" will not be included on this list as they go without saying. Except I just said them. Damn........)

-Shakespeare in Love. This is for the writer in me. It doesn't matter that it's Shakespeare - it's all the little references to him picking up material from every possible place, no matter how strange. It's him not being able to get past his writer's block until he stumbles upon his muse (muses exist, yes they do). No movie makes me want to get off the couch once it's finished and dash to the word processor to generate a few pages more this one. I remember vividly one night when I desperately needed a pick-me-up popping this in, drinking a six pack and by the end I was bouncing around the room with one of the greatest cravings to write I've ever possessed. I tossed off about 20 pages that night and awoke in the morning to find they were all trash. But damn it, was I happy!

-Without Limits. This is a biopic of American long distance sensation Steve Prefontaine. The more I watch this, the more I find in common with the man they called Pre. Oh, not athletically speaking, of course, but on a different level. The way he felt about running is quite similar to the way I feel about writing. A character in the movie says, "Pre was troubled by the fact that a great effort could lose a race and a mediocre effort could win one." I leave that to you to determine how that relates to modern-day cinema (very accurately, I must say). Pre ran the way he ran and damn anyone who told him different. A race to him was a "work of art". A screenplay is the same to me.

Toward the end there is a moment that drives me to tears every time. Pre has just been offered two million dollars to turn pro which means he would become ineligible for the Olympics - essentially his one and only dream. He doesn't know what he should do. And, searching for an answer, he goes for a run. I have those moments sometimes when I'm so lost and confused and angered and irritated and the only thing that can quell it is sitting down at my computer and writing.

-Adventures of Robin Hood. Robin enters the hall of Prince John with the dead deer slung over his shoulders. He throws it on the table. He sits down at the banquet table. He eats. He drinks. He advises he will lead a revolt against Prince John. Maid Marian gasps, "You speak treason." Without batting an eye Robin replies, "Fluently." I don't mean to be cruel but if this doesn't inspire you to stand up and cheer, you have no soul.

-Rocky. What never seems to get any attention with this magnificent movie is the first half hour. These scenes establish just who this Rocky Balboa is and we don't get to the "sporting" angle of the film until after they have done so. A movie made today would cut these scenes because they move too "slowly". Then, of course, nobody cares whether or not he wins during the final fight and nobody remembers the movie. As it is, the first time he tries to ascend those famous steps of the Philadelphia library you can hardly stand to watch. And when he races up them the second time, even the most hardened cynic whoops his or her approval.

-Batman Begins. I'm including this one because it is the most recent movie I saw that truly inspired me. At the end, Batman is about to swoop off to battle his arch nemesis but Rachel Dawes (i.e. The Love Interest) steps forward and says, "You might get killed. At least tell me your name." But instead of revealing his identity by merely giving his name he repeats a line verbatim that Rachel had said to him (as Bruce Wayne rather than Batman) earlier: "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." "Bruce?" she says. And then the music swells. And then he swoops off. I cannot even begin to illustrate the enormity of the grin that appeared on my face. Sweet Mary Mother of God, what a moment!!!


The Fab Miss B said...

I have no doubt that the film I'm about to mention will be included in the AFI list, but I absolutely love "Its a Wonderful Life". Every Christmas I get choked up right away as we watch George try to leave to travel the world after loosing his father and finishing school. Of course, he doesn't go because the board members vote to keep the Savings and Loan open only if he will stay on to manage it. And so begins George's life sentence in Bedford Falls. He never does get to leave, and it always breaks my heart even when he does find redemption and compassion from all of the townspeople he has helped through the years. (It can also be interpreted as a visionary comment on the way corporations and conglomerates suck away the things that are meaningful about life in the modern world.)Suffice it to say, I fucking love it.

Anonymous said...

I gotta go with (Starship Troopers, what?) "The Shawshank Redemption." Yes, it's a bit hacky, and yes it will probably be on their list. But the scene when he seems to be about ready to hang himself, but really he's getting ready to give the big screw-over to the system. Boo-yah.