So I was greeting this morning by a blog post from Elizabeth Ditty about desert island movies. It originated elsewhere, but put simply it is the idea that if you were stranded on a desert island and had only 8 movies to bring with you (assuming that there was a working DVD player and television on the island) what 8 movies would you pick?
The way I approached this is to find a spread of movies that were engaging on a variety of levels. Some I’d be able to approach intellectually, peeling them apart like a puzzle box. Others would be simple, easy enjoyment. So let’s see how this list shakes out.
8 1/2 – Easily the most cerebral film on this list, I chose Fellini’s most famous work as an exercise in intellectual stimulation. There’s a lot of indulgence on this list, but 8 1/2 is a movie that I feel would offer up endless questions and rewards on subsequent viewings. Besides, there’s always room for one ‘art’ film on any list.
Clue – Yes, THAT Clue. And why not? It’s among my favorite comedies, despite hardly being a ‘good’ movie. It’s inventive, zany, and full of absurdity. If I ever needed to laugh, Clue would provide it. It’s infectiously ridiculous.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – It doesn’t hurt that this movie’s nearly 3 hours long, but I couldn’t go anywhere without it. My favorite film to look at, this epic spaghetti western stands in for all of the possible Tarantino choices I could have made, as well. In its vistas are all the stuff of epic heroes, writ large in close up. A must-have for passing the time away.
Lost in Translation – Kind of an indulgent choice, Lost in Translation is kind of goofy and maybe not the most popular movie around, but I adore it so. The perfect blend of understated romance and culture shock, Japan is very much the third character in this movie. A whirlwind of sights and emotion. For the days when I want to indulge in some melancholy.
Cast Away – Almost a joke entry, but I’m very serious about why a joke entry needs to be there. If I’m going to be on a desert island, keeping a sense of humor about my situation will be vital to my survival. And Cast Away is just about the perfect film to repackage my predicament in a way that I can both mock and appreciate. Cast Away will get me through those dark nights of the soul, where I stand on the beach and look out at the ocean and shout “WIIIIIIILSOOOOON!”
Spirited Away – This one isn’t hard to justify. It’s probably my favorite film. Certainly always in the top three. Miyazaki’s masterpiece is full of imagination and magic. It’s uplifting, inspiring, and every scene is packed with amazing things to look at. If I had to pick ONE movie for my desert island trip, it would be this one.
Blade Runner – Blade Runner almost lost to Casablanca. Might as well be up front about that. But upon thinking about it, while they both provide a distilled, near-perfect noir experience, Blade Runner has more to offer in its huge vistas, its echoes of Metropolis, it’s imagination and abstraction.
An American in Paris – I needed one musical on this list, and while the competition was fierce, An American in Paris won out. It’s probably my favorite Gene Kelly film, and there’s that huge ballet sequence in the finale. This is one that I could drift in hundreds of times and still be swept up by the color and spectacle.
And those are the eccentric eight. Feel free to share your own!