Last night I make the trek down to the beautiful TIFF Bell Lightbox to watch a 35mm print of Say Anything… It was a “one night only” screening and the house was packed. I was excited to see it not because it’s a favourite of mine, but because I had just realized earlier that day that I’d never seen it before. Say Anything… is a movie that’s been played on TV so many times, and I’d seen so many different scenes from it that I had somehow convinced myself over the years that I had actually seen it from start to finish. It’s another case of my mind playing tricks on me. In fact, I had never actually watched the film before. Some key scenes from throughout the film and that’s it. When this dawned on me I realized I could not turn down to see it on the big screen.
But has this phenomenon ever happened to you? Are there films you’ve thought that you had seen, but really hadn’t. I’m not talking about movies you pretend to have seen just to seem cool in front of other cinephiles. That’s a whole different ballgame. I mean movies that you were convinced that you had seen, and maybe even enjoyed, only to find out it was all an illusion?
It’s happened to me once before. It was another movie from the 80s. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I first saw the film when I was in high school. And late into high school at that. But before I finally sat down to watch it from beginning to end I was sure that I’d seen it before. Of course, it turns out it was another case of delusion based on the fact that TBS used to play the film endlessly. When I did really watch it there were tons of scenes I knew already, but I realized that I had never before seen them in their proper context.
I think the iconic quality of some of these films, combined with their endless airings on TV has created this syndrome. A movie becomes so ingrained in the culture and its most memorable images and scenes become such a big part of the collective consciousness that even those who have never seen them before become convinced that they have. It’s like a form delusion-by-ubiquity. Maybe somebody out there who has never watched The Matrix thinks that they have. Or maybe there are adults out there who were deprived of The Wizard of Oz, but don’t know that’s the case because they can remember certain famous scenes. Or maybe I’m just crazy. Maybe I’m just alone in having this happen. So let me know, does this sort of thing happen to you with movies (or books or songs or TV shows)?
PS. Now that I have actually seen it, I can say without reservation that Say Anything… is a great movie and Llyod Dobler is the man!