The films I love - and there are lots and lots in that category - too many to mention or I'd be here all night, are those which make me laugh and cry. To make the grade they have to do both at least once. And the real test is that they have to do that each and every time I watch them.
Having been blessed with an overactive imagination - and I imagine (ha! See?) that this is the case for most of you Protagonizers - I get deeply involved and immersed when I watch a film, and if a film makes an impression on me, it really makes an impression, you know?
My favourite film of all time is one I saw for the first time before the person who tagged me was born. I saw it four times at the cinema when it came out (I haven't done that with any other film - that's how much I loved the thing. The only other movie I've ventured to see twice at the cinema was ET). Since then, I have lost count of the times I've watched it. (OK - I don't watch it every day - I'm not that fanatical - or even every week. I probably don't even see it once a year now, but if it's on TV I can't resist. Even though I had it on VHS and now have it on DVD too. I love this film so much that I am likely go on about it endlessly so prepare for this to be a long chapter. What's the film?
It's "Carrie". Directed by Brian de Palma, and based on Stephen King's first novel.
It was the film that introduced me to my favourite author, so that, for one thing, is a big plus. It also introduced me to Brian de Palma - a great director.
Carrie is many stories in one - just like life, and I will go through these one by one:
I'll get the easy one out of the way first. Yep - It's a horror film. We all know Stephen King is known as a horror writer. Actually, I would disagree on that at times but no matter. Maybe we can discuss that another time. It's scary, but mainly towards the end. And the horror in this movie is mild - no maggots crawling out of zombie flesh, no axe-murderers or creepy men in masks. Just a tormented soul using a little everyday telekinesis to punish the people who had made her life a misery. Most of the blood in it is pig's blood, though a little human blood gets spilled right at the end. There are deaths - but the only ones we really care about are Carrie herself, and Tommy Ross - who was killed because he was doing his girlfriend a favour.
It's a tragic film, in many ways. There is great loss of life - and most of the people who die are young and innocent. Even the ones who weren't that innocent were not particularly guilty, either. They didn't do anything more terrible than pick on a classmate. Even Carrie's mother, poor misguided soul, was acting according to her conscience. To me, the greatest tragedy was the loss of a future for Carrie, who blossomed at the prom, into a pretty, funny and normal teenage girl. If the "bucket of blood" thing had not happened, would she have ended up with Tommy? And what would have happened with Sue. Or would Carrie's mother have killed her anyway? It's a film that makes you wonder about alternative outcomes.
Which brings me on the the love story. Who, watching the scene at the prom, where Carrie is dancing with Tommy, could fail to recognise that there were signs that they were falling in love? This part is so magical, so enthralling, and now, so poignant, because we know what happens next, don't we? That's the part that always makes me cry (the first bit that does, anyway. I cry again later). This scene is enhanced by the beautiful song playing in the background while they're dancing. It has an impossibly long titlle: "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me" and is sung by Katie Irving - the sister of Amy Irving, who played Sue.
It's a very human story - horror or not. I think one of the reasons I love this story so much is that I can identify with Carrie. I was on the sidelines at school - shy and a bit of a loner. The alienation wasn't as extreme, but not far off, to be honest. My mother was not as much of a religious fanatic as Carrie's but there were elements of that, and I was somewhat sheltered during my teenage years.
It has moments of humour - not high comedy - it's all very gentle. But there are parts which make me laugh out loud, even now, having watched it so many times.
It is bursting with suspense. Brian de Palma often emulated Alfred Hitchcock. Even the background music is similar in parts.
There are techinical things in this film which were way ahead of their time. Split screen, for instance. Nobody had seen that before Carrie.
And what of the book? Well, I went out and bought it, of course. It is both better than, and not as good as, the film. The Carrie in the book is not the pretty, delicate little flower Sissy Spacek was in the movie. She does not elicit nearly as much sympathy. But the book tells of abuses not even mentioned in the screenplay. No matter. Despite its differences to my beloved film, it still hooked me on Stephen King, and this is about the film, anyway. I tend to think of the two as separate entities.
The acting is worth a mention. Sissy Spacek was amazing - wistful, pathetic and lovable, but strong - and gorgeous, and, though she was in her late twenties at the time, totally believable as a sixteen year old girl. William Katt as Tommy was a little wooden, but who cares, because he was cute, and his smile would have made me fall a little in love with him, too. But the completely over-the-top performance by Piper Laurie as Carrie's mother gets the award from me, and her ecstatic death scene, while being disturbing, is a little bit comical too - no accident, because I'm sure she played it for laughs, bless her.
I could watch this film over and over again, (and have) and never tire of it. By the way, the last scene still makes me jump, every time, even though I'm expecting it.