Here we go! “1001 movies you must see before you die” book by Steven Jay Schneider has been delivered to my mailbox couple weeks ago when I decided I am up to the challenge! And what challenge exactly? Well, to not miss any of the must see films before I die of course.
As a bachelor in film studies, general movie fanatic and a film industry professional (I spent six years working for The Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest) I was pretty sure I’ll be able to tick off quite a few. Well, a few I did, indeed. But somehow, the number wasn’t as impressive as I’ve been hoping for. Turns out, you can easily get a degree in film studies without seeing too many of the must see films. It also turns out that even though I have seen way over 1001 movies in my life, most of them are not on the list meaning I have been pretty much just wasting my time. Uh? Really?
Naaah… I’ve seen so many amazing films that inspire me constantly and without which my life would be a very sad place – and most of them did not make it to the list which is fine, because this book’s goal is to highlight the best and most influential films from each era and each genre, to educate you and help you understand the film history. And let’s face it 1001 is such a small number since there are so many amazing films in the world… Plus, they do not claim these 1001 films to be the best films of all times – just that you should see them. The 1001 best films list will be different for each and everyone of you, since film is something so subjective that there is simply no way to make any general “best of” list. And if you come across any, they are merely suggestions for you to consider. So no offense taken for not seeing “my” films in this book! … okay, in most cases, that is 😉
Anyway, how did I even come up with this idea and what is my goal exactly? As a matter of fact, I just wanted to carry on educating myself as there is still so much to learn but needed some… guidelines. Some challenge. Something that would keep me at it. So, I came across this book and thought – hell, yeah! I’m gonna see them all. But throughout reading the preface & introduction of the book I actually set out two challenges – or more like, one challenge and one goal:
1. The Challenge: How long is it gonna take me to see all the films I must see before I die that I have not seen yet?
My number of seen films is somewhere between 250 – 300 films (seriously, I cannot say exactly as there are some that I would swear I’ve never seen but according to my notes back from the Uni times I have and vice versa). That leaves me with approx. 700 films to watch. Whew. That means, if I watched one film a day, it would take me two years.
But let’s face it – not only you cannot watch one film a day, every single day of the year but you also want to watch other films than the ones on the list – especially, if you work within the film industry and it’s part of your job (ah! which still makes it the best job in the world, don’t you think?!). Then, there are those days you just want to watch those films you’ve seen hundred times already, but you can’t get enough of them because you love them too much and they make you feel good and you simply won’t give them up for anything in the world and definitely not just because they are not on some list. Meh. And then, there come the days when you simply don’t feel like watching anything. (Come on! Even the biggest movie lovers simply need to live their own movies called life sometimes. If you don’t believe me just remember for example those times called vacations – do you watch films while on one?). There will for sure be other days when you’ll manage to see more than one film – but that’s probably not gonna make up for it. So – not gonna finish this in two years time, I’m affraid.
But my point is – if I take away all these evenings of switching the tv channels from one to another, in desperate hope of finding something worth watching and in the end ending up just dully staring on the tv screen and then just going to bed without seeing anything really, and instead put on one of the films from the book, surely the number can improve tremendously. So, the challenge remains – let’s watch all of the films in the shortest amount of time possible (while still living your life and not becoming anti-social weirdo).
2. The Goal: To create my own list of 1001 films you must see before you die – but the goal here would be different from the original book’s goal – after all, there is no point to create another list with the same goal, right?
Though, I am sure some of the films will definitely be the same, my list will be more like: “1001 films that I would regret not seeing” or “1001 films that somehow made my life better”… or “1001 films that I would show to the aliens if they ever came to the planet Earth and wanted to better understand us better”. Seriously, it will be much much more subjective. But that’s the beauty of it – as every form of art, even film is deeply subjective and no one can tell you what you’re supposed to like.
My goal in life is simply to try to make other people’s lives better and richer – and I do that the best I can. Same comes for my list. There will be films that I simply believe could make your life better – not just by being the feel good movies (but not excluding those), but also by helping you to understand people around you, your history, films that will make you think, films that will test your imagination, or films that will make you ask questions that you never thought of asking before.
So. The challenge is up. And I hope you’re gonna join me on the ride!!