Movies today are spectacular, awesome, ingenious, mind-blowing, eye-popping digital miracles. From the first scenes of Terminator 2's T-1000 shifting and oozing in his 'polymetal' form to the life like yet totally imaginary beings of Avatar, movie magic has brought us to a place of awe and wonder.
For me this isn't the first time that I have witnessed movies that changed my perception of what was real and what was fantasy. I was born in the 60's, and grew up in the 70's. Cinema was very different when I was young. But the lack of CG or digital film scores didn't mean that I missed out on experiencing the same feeling of awe that audiences are mesmerized by today.
The seventies was a era where the term 'Blockbuster' was coined. Mainly it came about because people were lining up around the blocks to get tickets. People were showing up in droves. But not because they were starved for entertainment. In the seventies, movies changed in a way that audiences had never seen before.
My first experience of this was when I went to see JAWS in 75'. I was pretty young, but my parents thought it was okay. "It's just a shark movie." I laugh now when I talk to younger generations and tell them that JAWS scared the crap out of me. Yes, that's right little Geek Soul Brother was scared of a rubber shark. Shoot, I still don't like swimming in the ocean! Laugh it up, it's okay. But take a mental trip back to that time and imagine that the worst scary movie up until then were monsters in rubber suits slowly walking towards their victims. Or before that, giant insects or sea creatures attacking cities. That was pretty much the height of fear; though I don't think they really scared anybody. PSYCHO was an exception.
Back to the 70's. Yes, JAWS was a hit. But it was just the first in a line of cinema breakthroughs that just kept pounding people's imaginations one after another.
Everything increased in its own special genre. Horror got more scary, Scifi got more imaginative, drama became more... dramatic! I didn't see THE EXORCIST in the theater cause I was too young. But even today it is considered one of the scariest movies of all time. For me everything changed in horror when I went to see ALIEN for the first time. It was a man in a suit, yes, but not the corny rubber suit of yesteryear. From that point on, the sub-genre of Sci-Fi/Horror took on a whole new meaning. And new genres were being invented by that time. 'Slasher' became a standard. Suddenly buildings on fire and earthquakes became 'Disaster Movies'.
And above all, the genre that had me officially 'BLOWN AWAY' was Science Fiction. Better special effects technology and camera movement allowed film makers like Lucas and Spielberg to create moments of imagination that were only previously in the minds of book readers. I have to say that no one was ready for what they first saw in STAR WARS. Even the commercials gave us a clue that we were seeing something new. Fights with Swords made of light and ships that could fly so fast the stars streaked past them had people walking out the theaters wondering how all that was possible. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND made people feel that not only could aliens exist but they could be wise and knowing. And SUPERMAN brought the most famous comic book character to life.
I'm glad I got to experience the beginnings of the way movies changed and evolved. Sometimes I look at younger people and wonder if they will ever feel the way we did in those days. It was a 'first time' for many things in film and I don't know if it will ever impact people the same way again. But if it does, I hope the coming generations aren't jaded to the genius in filmmaking that's coming down the road. What was the movie moment that had you Blown Away?