Monday, March 18, 2013

Blogfest! My Favorite Movies

Today I signed up to post for Alex Cavanaugh's Top 10 Movie Countdown blogfest. And the truth is, I've been trying to figure out what my favorite movies are for the past week with little success. Oh some choices are obvious.

All three of the original Indiana Jones films were huge influences on me in my childhood. It was Raiders of the Lost Ark that sparked my love of ancient history and made me want to be an archaeologist for several years. Of course, when I became older and wiser I learned that what Indy does is not archaeology, but I never lost my fascination for ancient cultures that these movies inspired.

The Last Crusade is my favorite of the three. You simply can't go wrong when you pair Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. I'm also probably one of the few people who thought the new movie was fun and decent. Harrison Ford was still Indy and that's enough for me.

Jumping ahead, in the last few years I've discovered the films of Hayao Miyazaki and fallen completely head over heals in love.

Japanese animation is a great storytelling medium and Miyazaki is its King. I cannot overestimate his genius, every single one of his films is a work of wonder and delight and incredible imagination. ALL Miyazaki films are better than at least 95% of the other fare out there. I've blogged about Spirited Away before, but brilliant as that one is, it's not one of my favorites of his.

For me, his first epic masterpiece, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, is still the best. It's a story set in a post apocalyptic world where humanity is fighting for survival against a poisonous environment only to discover that their ancestors were responsible for the devastation that threatens to wipe out human life. The land its self has set up a system of purification, but can humanity survive long enough to see the remade earth? Nausicaa believes that only learning to live in harmony with the earth again can save them, but not everyone agrees and war sweeps across the kingdoms that remain while Nausicaa fights for life. The world of Nausicaa is vividly imagined and the conflict is both awesomely epic and deeply personal. The score is also one of my favorites. Joe Hisaishi, who does all of Miyazaki's scores, is as unparalleled a musical genius as Miyazaki is a storytelling genius.

Then there's Princess Mononoke. Everything about this film is beautiful. The magical forest environment where most of the action takes place, the nuanced characters, the amazing musical score. This is a story which never takes the easy way out. It asks tough questions about how humans should treat their environment, it pits several different characters with differing viewpoints against each other and yet there is no "bad guy" and no one faction wins in the end. The message is clear: life is sacred and hatred can do nothing but destroy.

Other awesome Miyazaki films that everyone should definitely see include: Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, and Ponyo. Though like I said, every single one he does is great.

Dune. Not the cheesy 80s movie. The visually spectacular, and much more faithful, mini series adaptation. (Do mini series count for this? They'll have to.) The book Dune is my favorite though its cerebral nature makes it a hard read. Somehow, the makers of this mini series managed to take a book that should be nearly impossible to film effectively and create an amazing visual interpretation that enhanced rather than detracted from my enjoyment of the book. (Which is saying something. I am a book to movie purist all the way.) The actors deserve major kudos for their portrayals of some of the most nuanced and real characters ever to grace genre fiction. If you like the Dune books and you've never seen this adaptation then you're really missing out.

I'll finish this not-a-Top-10-Countdown list with a couple of my favorite fantasy movies.

I admit it. I'm a sucker for David Bowie as the Goblin King. Dance Magic Dance. Also, Labyrinths are just cool.

"Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

What more could you ask for? That quote is actually from the book, by the way, which, yes, is still better than the movie. Though not by much.

All right, I cheated and didn't actually list 10 movies. I'm not good at categorizing my favorites. (Don't ask me why I signed up to do just that.) These are some of my favorite movies. They are movies that have had an influence on me as a person and as a storyteller.

Truth be told, I've always been more of a book person. ;)


  1. Raiders made my list! And the Princess Bride came close. Great lines in that film.
    Thanks for participating in my blogfest!

  2. Love the Indy movies...well, except the second one! :)

  3. I love Hayao Miyazaki! Totoro and Kiki's Delivery are my favorites.

  4. Not familiar with Hayao Miyazaki. But the rest I know. Wow, didn't David Bowie look cool in that movie?

  5. Oh, how I love Labyrinth. And the Princess Bride. I have not seen the rest though. I've attempted to watch the Indiana Jones movies on a couple occasions, but I never made it all the way through.

  6. Excellent list, Sarah. Labyrinth gives me nightmares to this day. :)

  7. I've seen "Raiders" on a couple lists now. If I had participated, I would have included it as well. Indy made me want to be an archeologist, too! And yes, I liked the last movie because of Harrison Ford. Princess Bride and Labyrinth are faves of mine as well. Good choices. :D

  8. I really liked Indy 4. Except for the Tarzan bit, which I appreciate for what it is, but it just seemed so out of place, especially since he did it Jedi, too. They really captured the mindset of the 50s with that movie, which I think a lot of people just miss.

    I own that Dune mini series. It was great. But it didn't occur to me to include it.

  9. This is a great list, but most I haven't seen. So I'm wondering how that is.

  10. I'm more of a book person too :-)
    Love The Princess Bride - the book and the movie!
    And Bowie, of course.

  11. Labyrinth and The Princess Bride are two of my all-time fave movies. Definitely I'm a sucker for Bowie in the former, too :) Love the soundtrack too!

  12. labryinth...ohhhh how i love the david bowie and his strangeness in this flick! new follower from the hop! hi

  13. Love Indiana Jones! Princess Bride made my list as well. Also my kids love Ponyo, they could watch it all day if I let them!

  14. I would like to dispute your claim that there are more than three Indiana Jones Movies.

  15. Great choices. My boys were totally into Princess Mononoke. And definitely not the 80s Dune. *gag*

  16. Indiana Jones movies are awesome! And I totally forgot about the Labyrinth. I saw it when it first came out.

  17. Yeah, Princess Bride is on my all-time list. I like the book too, but the movie is better in places - like the way Inigo's backstory is handled. In the book, Inigo has this huge flashback while he's waiting for the Man in Black to climb the cliffs of despair.

    In the movie, Inigo lifts the Man in Black up to the top, then offers to let him catch his breath before they duel, (which is a great little character moment in itself.) He asks the Man in Black if he has six fingers, and that breaks the ice and Inigo shares his story of loss and vengeance. It's so much better because we can see how the Man in Black reacts to these revelations, and it's the beginning of a respect that pays off at the end of the story when the two of them team up against the real bad guys! :)


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