Thursday 3 September 2009

Recurring Film Nostalgia

One of the best things about this blog has been finding many other people who are just like me. It turns out, I'm not the only Kid In The Front Row. There are a lot of us, and we're filling up the isles. So it gives me great pleasure to be able to hand over the writing reigns today to a guest author, someone who truly embodies the spirit of being a Kid In The Front Row. He writes about something close to my heart, nostalgia.

'Recurring Film Nostalgia' - by Jack Wormell
Film sneaks into our lives in different ways. I grow fond of a film not just for what it is, but because of how we met. Associations sit so strongly in my head that a movie becomes entwined with certain occasions or periods of my life, and a select number of films maiden voyage into my heart was through television. Seeing them beamed out to me from the TV screen for the first time has left them intrinsically connected with a certain period of my life, and, for some strange reason, has reinforced my love of them.

When I was younger, before I owned any DVDs, and only a few videos stood on my bedroom shelf, there were certain films that seemed to be broadcast regularly, as if, after looking at the calendar, the broadcasters exclaimed, ‘We haven’t shown Jaws in three months! What can we free up on Friday night’s schedule? Pronto! Pronto!’ My nostalgia, whether correct or not, tells me these films were always on the weekend, no earlier than Ten PM and usually on BBC 2. They were films of varying quality, but always immediately gripping, films where you could jump in halfway through and grasp what was happening with no trouble (although perhaps this was because I’d seen it about 3 months earlier on the same channel).

Catching Goodfellas a quarter of the way through, round about the Copacabana tracking shot, or finding the opening credits of Undersiege reaching an end, and with a thrill settle in for guns, cooking and Gary Busey cross dressing (Busey, by the way, featured heavily in my childhood, as the king of the supporting part in dubious 90’s films: Underseige, Point Break, Predator 2). Yes, Undersiege seemed to be on TV almost every weekend when I was 14.

So anyway I present to you my little list of films, which repeatedly came into my life through the medium of television, now something I hardly watch, plagued as it is by mediocrity. When I was younger TV acted as a trusted friend, one who exhibited exciting, reliable films for me time and again. Films that, when I look back on it now, I just had to see. I think I would have grown up a different person without the knowledge that every Friday night I could sit down in the comfort of my own home to be further educated in the violence that one giant shark can do in a weekend, or why you must never say ‘Candyman’ five times in front of a mirror, or why the future of mankind rests upon a lippy teen with a knack for breaking into ATM machines (in my memory Terminator 2: Judgement Day was actually on every week. I will stand by this).

Everyone has their own selection, with films of varying quality, as well as those films on video bought by your parents, but that’s a whole ‘nother recollection entirely! Anyway these are my childhood TV films, in no particular order:

Midnight Run
(Bit of a cheat, I think I was a little older when this started recurring on TV, but it was, and is, always on.)
Terminator 2: Judgement Day

I was drawn to these films because of their violence, their dramatic dialogue and their phenomenal music (Terminator 2’s mournful industrial clanging is still one of my favourite movie themes). Since those tender years I may have watched subtler and more intriguing films, films which have become my all time favourites no less, but whenever I find one of the above on TV, I still have to sit down and watch it, hypnotised. I may have it on DVD but I still have to watch it, then and there, because it is being broadcast to the public. And even though there are more obscure films I love which are rarely broadcast, it’s still a special moment when Undersiege or Candyman invade my living room. And I’m pretty sure it has to do with me at the age of 14, sitting in the television’s electric glow.

--Jack Wormell is a filmmaker and writer with a degree in Film & TV. You can also read his poetry at

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