COLUMN: The powerful link that films have to our memories

Nik Brear
Nik Brear
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We all know that music is a powerful medium.

A few bars, or a strum of a guitar, is sometimes all that’s needed to transport us back to another place and time.

Dirty Dancing - memories for NF column

Dirty Dancing - memories for NF column

But in the same way that music can instantly return you to another point in your life, reminding you of exactly how you felt in that moment all those years before, film can have the same effect. My favourite films - or even films I’ve seen just once - often take me on a walk down memory lane.

If I catch a clip of ‘Moulin Rouge,’ for instance, I’m back in 2001, comforting my best friend with a bottle of Lambrini (jeez...) after breaking up with her first boyfriend.

‘Just Like Heaven’ is 2005, the summer I was single and went on three separate first dates, all of them to see the same film. And I didn’t like it that much the first time.

‘Speed’ was one of my favourite films when it came out and Keanu Reeves quickly became my first celeb crush. I still love that film and everytime I watch it, I’m immediately transported back to the wicker sofa in my parent’s conservatory where I sat and watched it on a tiny portable television in 1995 when I was 12-years-old.

I remember watching all the chick-flick greats - ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Ghost,’ ‘Steel Magnolias’ - with my mum when I was about eight, on lazy Sunday afternoons. I fell in love with the dancing, the romance, the friendships...my mum, however, would be frantically fast-forwarding through all of the ‘unsuitable’ scenes. In some cases, it was years before I watched these films in their entirety and finally managed to piece all the missing storylines together and make sense of the plot (Penny had an abortion!)

‘Titanic,’ in 1997, was the last film I ever watched at the old cinema in Barnsley and the only time I ever got my lovely nan to the cinema. I think the title probably misled her and she definitely looked a little awkward when Kate Winslet started to take her kit off.

What’s truly interesting though, is that - in all cases - these films stay the same, and we are the ones who change, meaning the way we engage with our old favourites is always changing too, as we grow older and become more experienced in the world.

I caught an old clip of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ the other day and I remember having such a huge crush on Pacey when I was 14. As I watched through my now 32-year-old eyes, I was surprised to see that Pacey is just a little boy - but hey, Dawson’s dad is a bit of a stud.