I was bumming around Reddit the other day. Reddit is not very good, but it is the most vaguely Internet-like thing left on the Internet, what with all its endless stuff and commentary to poke around at. And as we inexorably descend to the point where the Internet is just shopping, bureaucracy, and bots talking to each other, I am still keen to draw some measly entertainment from the tattered remnants of the Internet dream as they flap in a wind about to tear them off forever.
"Er, and what did you see on Reddit?" The curious reader wonders.
On Reddit, I saw the question posed: "What movie blew your mind the first time you watched it?"
There wasn't a ton of joy for me in this question. All the answers seemed predictable even before I read them; The Matrix, Star Wars, Memento, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, and so on. So I turned to musing on my own experience to extract entertainment:
What movie blew my mind the first time I watched it?
There were a few, but I was looking for that special diamond in the rough. Something that wouldn't be in the usual responses.
And I thought of Babe.
Babe blew my mind.
Back in the days of Babe's release, my lovely wife and I used to walk out of our neighborhood, across the edges of the University, to the near suburbs where a decrepit theater with sticky floors showed movies for one dollar.
My god! Even way back then that wasn't very much money!
Now these dollar picture shows weren't first run movies exactly, young 'uns (oh, right, I don't think there are any young people reading clerkmanifesto), these were movies just out of their initial theatrical runs, scraping up a bit more money before heading for (oooh, just wait for some old timey stuff now!), their video rental release. This was in a pre information glut era, before the Internets rose thrillingly from their launch pads to head to the stars and then instead crashed into our cites and lit them on fire. So I'm not sure how much we knew about the movies we were going to see.
But I do remember we were late for this one.
And we walked in to the theater to see the movie underway, with impossibly cute mice on the screen explaining what was going on.
These little mice were fantastic!
Then the movie turned out to be full of talking animals!!!
Some were magnificently cute. (So much cuteness was itself a little mind-blowing).
And all of it, as I recall (it's been a while since I've seen Babe), was miraculously in a live action format of stunning verisimilitude.
The problem with magic is how quickly we can start to take it for granted. My mind was so blown away by Babe that there is in me, more than a quarter century later, a small part that wonders why half of all movies aren't made like this to this day! All of the sudden, watching Babe, it seemed like one could make a film with anything, of anything! But at the same time after ten minutes of the movie I just took it all for granted. Which, weirdly, is amazing, because it involved a cute, talking piglet (and other talking animals), all of which, DO NOT NORMALLY TALK.
But it is in the nature of these things that, in the end, it all would have been pointless if the movie wasn't ridiculously charming.
Fortunately it was.