I was something of a late bloomer when it comes to the cinema. Not to watching movies of course; I had a slew of VHS tapes of all the usual suspect—Disney, Jurassic Park and so on—and even a couple of things I probably shouldn’t have been watching at that age, like Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards.
Despite this, I was never actually taken out to the cinema. The reason for this was a very simple one: I could not shut up whilst watching movies. I suppose I should be pleased that my parents wanted to uphold the cinema’s code of conduct by not letting me be a nuisance, but this meant that I didn’t get to see a film in the cinema until the grand old age of 8. However, I was at least off to a pretty good start as that first cinema trip was to see Toy Story. I may have been late to the cinema game, but seeing a landmark animation as my first film made up for it.
I can’t recall too many memories of that day—standing outside the screen waiting to go in, seeing Buzz and Woody “falling with style,” and the little green aliens are all a bit fuzzy now—but what I do remember clearly was the joy. I also remember getting the film’s soundtrack on CD for my birthday. (It was my first movie soundtrack—now my iPod is full of them.) I remember playing out my own stories with my toys, with The Red Ranger standing in for Buzz Lightyear. In particular though, I remember how trips to the cinema became a really big deal for me over the following years. If I knew I was going to see a film, I’d barely be able to sleep the night before from sheer giddiness and excitement. Muppet Treasure Island, Hercules, Anastasia, even Star Wars Episode 1 were huge events, each with their own qualities that brought back that sheer, movie-watching magic. There were other notable firsts as well: my first 12-rated film (Planet of the Apes—also my first trip to the cinema by myself), my first 15-rated film (Daredevil—seen with an older brother, and I forgot my glasses) and 18-rated film, Sweeney Todd—Tim Burton again!).
Though I’ve grown up now, have worked in various kinds of cinemas and see a lot more films than back then, that happiness has never really gone away and I hope it never will.