We all have them. Those films that we just can’t watch enough. Movies that, no matter how many times we’ve seen it, we always have to watch it again. The film that gives you a jolt of excitement in your stomach whenever you think about it. The films that made you fall in love with the art of cinema. We all have a favorite piece of cinematic work. But what makes these films so “rewatchable?” Everyone has different reasons why they have chosen these films as their tokens of love, but here is mine.
Ever since I was a little girl, I would stare at the screen and become completely enchanted by the actors. I love to watch actors; I love to learn from their performances. I feel the best way to learn how to be a great actor is by watching great actors. Being a lover of the craft, I find myself watching the most inspiring performances over and over again. I have this idea in my head that if I constantly watch these amazing performances than I will become a good actor myself (... Not sure if it has worked yet or not... I'll let you know...). My favorite rewatchables included performances that remain with you long after the film has ended; performances that make you physically feel the soul of the character next to you. I want to rewatch films with great performances over and over again because I want to understand every nuanced detail the actor chose to bring to their character.
To me, well-developed characters are far more important than any plot. I need to understand the characters I'm watching on screen. It's not that I need to relate to them, but I need to know who they are. Characters provide the lens in which you view the world of film. They are your companion throughout this journey. Without a good, compelling, interesting companion, you can't enjoy the adventure. My favorite rewatchables have a diverse range of characters. After each rewatch, I feel like I know each character as a friend, an enemy, a confidant, an ally. It's character that brings life to the story.
In my film manifesto (Yes, I'm that pretentious), I wrote, "If a film doesn’t stimulate me visually, then I might as well just read the book it's probably based on." (Yes, I just quoted myself.) I'm a visual movie goer. If I'm not captivated by the "look" of the movie than I usually won't enjoy it. Or I'll just get bored and do the worst thing a moviegoer can do: sit on my phone. My most favorite movies capture the beauty, and the tragedy, of the world around us. They are able to tell a story without ever having to say a word. Gorgeous cinematography can make you feel like you're falling in love. But maybe that's just me and my hopelessly romantic mindset.
Well, this is an obvious one... Most people do enjoy a well-written story. But the best stories, and the ones you want to relive over and over again, are the ones that you truly lose yourself in. The stories where, two hours later in this encapsulating world, you feel like you've just awoken from a dream, unaware of your own reality. Stories you want to rematch are the ones where you want to relive the laughter, the tears, the fear, and the adventure. They're the stories that never get old. The stories that will never fail to help you forget about the woes of real life, and invite you back into their world of dreams.
Although you may have seen these films hundreds of times, never become complacent while watching them. Continue to challenge yourself by questioning what the filmmaker is asking of his audience. Continue to analyze the choices made by the actors in order to create believable characters. Continue to lavish in the works that made you fall in love with the art form.
The art of the re-watch is about finding a series of films that encompass your aesthetic. It's about finding the films that make you feel something inside, that inspires you, and that challenges you. You rewatch films not entertain you, but to comfort you, to feed, to fulfill you.
Some of the films and TV shows I love to rewatch...
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Harry Potter Series
The Imitation Game
The King's Speech
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Click the images below to read each article
Film East Chats Podcast on BBC Radio Norfolk
This is a small section of episodes from the Film East podcast. Click here to listen to all episodes.