Thursday, August 28, 2014


Was the best part of Close Encounters of the Third Kind the ending?

A couple of nights ago I had an enjoyable and enlightening telephone conversation with an old friend of mine. We do these updates every couple of months or so. And they are always fun.

Something of interest came out of this most recent talk: I mentioned to my friend that my brother and I had a conversation of our own, recently. It went like this...

Guess what movie I just saw again for the first time in many years... Close Encounters (of the Third Kind).

What'd you think?

Man, it's not very good.

Really? It's been a long time since I've seen it.

I spoke about the issue of "looking back" before, as recently as a few days ago, concerning my seeing Star Trek: The Next Generation again after many years (here).

Controversial Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner had a favourite saying in regards to Who fans looking again at something that they have fond memories of: "The memory cheats."

While I don't necessarily agree with JN-T's all too easily dispensed wisdom in regards to some Doctor Who "stories", he is most correct in a general sense. The passage of time changes things; the heart grows fonder. Not much can possibly compete with the malleable and often inaccurate human memory, especially one governed or influenced by warm nostalgia. This isn't meant to suggest that movies or television programs from our earlier years are somehow intrinsically decrepit -- many are -- but times change, we change, including our expectations.

Movies of note, of late, which someday will more than likely generate howls of "the memory cheats", are: Titanic; Star Wars - The Phantom Menace; Forrest Gump; The Shawshank Redemption; and more than a few more.

Some television series' promoting exhortations of "I remember it being better than this", may include: E.R; Beverly Hills 90210; Game of Thrones; Lost; and many more.

It's almost inevitable.

(Gilligan's Island never cheats me.)

Yes, the memory does cheat. If not now, it will later.

(Even though I don't consider myself a fan of The X-Files or Seinfeld, they are examples of television shows that will travel well through the years, I think.)

I must watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind again to see how unfaithful my memories have been. Wait a minute; I never thought that that movie was very good in 1977!

Oh, my friend disagrees with my original assessment.


Greg Woods said...

I still have to man up see if "Starlost" is still as creepy as I remember it as a seven-year-old, watching it on my brother's black-and-white TV. But I hesitate too, as I'd like that memory to be untarnished.

Barry Smight said...

I only know The Starlost in colour, but I can imagine its effect in B&W.

Good show, in some ways.

Thanks for your comment!

Jon said...

I'm not sure about this. If I have a distinct memory, not of the film being "good" per se, but of being thrilled, or choked up, or otherwise on the edge of my seat during that showing X years does this become a cheat?

Does a change in tastes or even standards later in life invalidate an earlier response or opinion?

Barry Smight said...

It does not become a cheat... or invalidate an earlier response or opinion.

I never said that. The "memory" can cheat, later on in life.

Our original response was genuine; a cherished memory even if things have changed.

I also never mentioned "standards" since I don't buy that word in this case. Our expectations change since we have grown.

An addition: Back in late 1991 I went to a "Supermarionation" fest at the Bloor Cinema. This was part of the Toronto B-fest. After the end credits to an episode of Supercar finished rolling a guy behind me said, "I remember it being better than that".

His reaction was based on the fact that he loved it when he first saw it, of course, but here it was 30 years later. That's all.

Yesterday I was reading the paper when I came across an article on Forrest Gump and why and how it may not impress many people twenty years later. I plan to update my posting....

Thanks for your comment!