In the early ’80s, about the time I was 3 years old, my parents would wake up on weekend mornings to find me sitting on the floor in front of our massive TV cabinet, staring up at the screen.
In the days before thousands of cable channels, I remember we had six stations to choose from, 2-7.
For today’s youth, it’s hard to fathom how we spent less time staring dead-eyed into the television without a massive format of shows, movies and infomercials to fill the viewing voids of our days.
Back then, there were color bars present on the screen when a channel was lacking in programming or needed a test pattern to gauge clarity. You might remember them in some form or another.
I know my parents, Jeanne and Tommy Bragg, remember them, because that’s what I would be watching at 6 a.m. on weekend mornings.
I could have been waiting for cartoons to come on, but I look back and realize I was analyzing what I was looking at, waiting for another image to pique my young curiosity.
I generally watched, like most kids, Warner Brothers or Disney cartoons, but when I watched movies, something sparked in me.
Third born children are generally the peacemakers of the family. We avoid conflict and try to keep spirits high.
In good measure, the first movies I remember watching and loving were comedies, like “Airplane” and “Spaceballs.”
It wasn’t long until I had every line in those movies memorized.
I sat for countless hours watching whatever I could via our limited channels and rented VHS tapes.
Over time and education, I came to understand that like in paintings, everything in the frame of the camera is there for a reason.
As a child, you might visit a museum and walk past a painting and think “Oh, there’s an elderly couple out in front of their house with a pitchfork.”
Then you see it 50 times and realize that the inspiration of what you’ve seen many times and dismissed is in the background and is an out-of-place Gothic arch above a plain American farmhouse window (I’m referring to Grant Wood’s iconic painting, “American Gothic”).
When I watch movies, be they beloved or despised, I analyze them ad nauseum.
I watch for poor editing, anachronisms, botched or poorly delivered lines, or anything else that stands out, like in “Braveheart,” when Mel Gibson changes weapons four times while running at full speed in less than one minute. In equal measure, I love to find a movie with no mistakes, amazing performances, and beautiful cinematography.
We take the good with the bad regularly, especially where the willful suspension of disbelief is concerned.
So, I submit that if you are the kind of person who loves movies, treat them like I do, as works of art.
Once you know how and what to look for, it will blow your mind what can be found.
Would you believe that Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis is easily understood by watching Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws?”
Tune in next week, and I’ll tell you all about it, as well as how that terrifying shark helped changed the face of film forever.