Continuing on with the Therefore I Geek discussion of influences, today we’re talking about movies and television shows that have influenced us. I have loved movies since I was a little kid. When I’m feeling down and need a pick me up, I turn to movies. They are one of my favorite forms of escapism entertainment—not quite as immersive as books, but also requiring less active thought. They are perfect for those days when I’m feeling brain dead, which occurs more often than I would like. Television shows are great because every week has the same cast of characters involved in some different adventure or dilemma. After a while, the audience starts to feel like they know them as actual people and are part of their lives. These are just a few of the movies and TV shows that have had an impact on my life.
• Star Wars – This one is a no brainer. I can still remember the first time I saw any part of Star Wars. We were on a cross country trip, my dad couldn’t sleep so he was watching TV and Star Wars was on. I woke up and watched a few minutes, was rather confused by what I saw and then went back to bed. Phantom Menace is the first DVD I ever owned and Revenge of the Sith is the first midnight movie showing I went to (also the first time I had Red Bull. It was a memorable night). My favorite Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back.
• Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – While I love all of Star Trek, this is by far the best of the films and the one that made me really love all things Trek. I’ve played Star Trek games, read Star Trek books and had daydreams set in the Star Trek universe. A close runner up is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which has some nice action, but doesn’t quite hold the same gravity
• The West Wing – I hate political ads. I hate them so much in fact that I give up watching live television during presidential elections. The real problem with this is that I’m interested in politics, but the ads cause my blood pressure to go through the roof. In comes The West Wing. While I don’t agree with a lot of the political ideas, I love the idealistic view of how politics should work. It also helps that the writing is quite good.
• Alien – One of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. It is one of the few horror movies I’ve ever seen and it scared the crap out of me the first time I saw it. This movie has lead me to look into the other Alien films, B-movies, Ridley Scott’s films and H.R. Giger’s art. That is a serious amount of research all because of one movie.
• The Hunt for Red October – Submarines are one of the things that interest me most and while this movie may not be particularly accurate, it is a great action picture. This movie is one of the things that help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life (and also that I didn’t want to actually be in the Navy).
• Firefly and Serenity – This was, of course, a great show. Despite its short initial run, Firefly has had a significant afterlife on DVD and Netflix. It also happened to be my first real exposure to Joss Whedon. (I’m not very familiar with Buffy; what can I say.) I named one of my cats after everyone’s favorite engineer—though if I’m being completely honest she’s less Kaylee and more Jayne (or that homicidal Russian guy).
• 10 Things I Hate About You – This was the first time I’d ever seen Shakespeare that wasn’t literal Shakespeare (Taming of the Shrew in this case). While it is certainly not Ran or Scotland, PA, it’s a fun movie with a surprisingly strong cast (Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon Levitt) that does a good job of telling the original story without the original Shakespearean language that many people find difficult to understand.
• The Big Lebowski – The Cohen Brothers’ parody of The Big Sleep (which is also a fantastic film) is the movie, after Star Wars, that I quote the most. If you include F-bombs, then it is by far the movie I quote most. John Goodman is in rare form as Walter and matches perfectly with Jeff Bridges’ inspired portrayal of The Dude. Because of The Big Lebowski I’ve looked up some classic movies as well as other Cohen Brothers’ films (big fan of Raising Arizona). It’s also got one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard.
What movies and TV shows have you found influential? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for part two, wherein our editor provides her list of cinematic influences.