Written seven years ago in 2001, this article chronicles our family’s love affair with movies. Just a little prelude, my friends, to share with you the beginnings of our own family ritual: Family Movie Nights.
I never used to go to the movies.
As a child, I grew up with a staple of B movies in the glorious decade of the Betamax. My parents were rather liberal with their children’s viewing fare and gave us discretion over what movies we wanted to watch. My brothers’ choices were those with blood, decapitation and zombies in them, while my younger sisters opted for cartoons.
Between unrestrained violence and an inordinate amount of cutesy babies prancing in circles singing “Maria, Maria, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya,” it was hardly surprising that I lost my taste for the movies shortly after I turned 10.
I remember, however, that as a child, my personal favorites were those comprising the Faces of Death series, you know, those movies on beta tapes that were all about death and pathology.
The rare times our family of seven would troop to the cinemas for an honest-to-goodness full-length movie, it would be to watch Superman and its sequels. So, going to the movies was never ever a family affair.
I never met a certified movie addict until I fell in love with my last boyfriend (now my husband). We weren’t allowed to go on dates for the first two years of our relationship, so watching movies was absolutely out of the question. Well, okay, I must confess, we did see a movie once.
We went to see Platoon, I remember, but because we were so scared that my parents would find out, we never watched another movie until my dad gave us his permission 20 months later.
We watched a movie or two every week afterwards, but I thought back then that watching movies was just something a couple does to spend time together. Whenever we had some free time, my boyfriend would pick up the paper, open to the movies section and point to the latest one he wanted to see.
Yeah, sure, sometimes he asked me what I wanted to watch, but since I had no firm opinions one way or the other, he had the run of the show. I figured, he loved movies, what of it? He stopped smoking for me and gave up drinking altogether (not that he loved alcohol to begin with).
He loved books as much as I did; he was cute, and he kissed well, so I thought better to let him be with the movies thing. Sure, sometimes I’d fall asleep and drool while watching a movie, but he never took that against me. He always thought I was fun to be with, awake or asleep, at the movies.
Then I married him. I suppose it came slowly enough. My parents bequeathed us a host of brand-new appliances to start us out, and my generous father threw in his extra Sony Betamax player. We started out by renting movies at a nearby video store, but more often than not, my husband still preferred the big screen, a movie date with him and me and his other “girlfriends,” Snickers and Baby Ruth.
When I got pregnant, however, my solicitous husband thought better than to jostle and squeeze his balloon-of-a-wife along the narrow aisles of the moviehouse.
And that was when he really got started.
I knew that my husband loved movies the way I loved Hello Kitty. It was something he enjoyed immensely. He could go on and on about movies he loved as a child, the Star Wars Trilogy and Jaws to name a few.
He could dissect the characters’ emotions and motivations based on their on-screen interactions and prevailing circumstances. He was as interested in the process by which the movie came about as he was by the final product. He loved the movies for everything they were. Still, rather than attempt to over-intellectualize things, he simply enjoyed the hours of relaxation and vicarious living the movies offered.
Like I said, when I got too fat to go out on my first pregnancy, my husband rented movies for us to watch at home. Then he bought movies for us at the mall, kicking off a collection that would dramatically increase in just a few years. I think his first purchase was He Said, She Said, a symbolic commemoration of our status as a certified “till-death-do-us-part” couple.
As his expertise in video hardware increased in proportion to his earning power, he also made personal copies of movies he wanted to collect but could not find original copies of. Pretty soon, what started out as a few Beta tapes in a shoebox gave way to an extensive collection.
Then the Beta format died. When the video stores’ array of Beta tapes dwindled to give way to new VHS stocks, my husband jumped at this opportunity to purchase a VHS player/recorder. What was a collector to do? He made VHS copies of the movies he had on Betamax, adding original videos as he found them.
Simultaneously, his interest in laser discs grew. He was often torn between his laser discs and his VHS tapes; fortunately, we had reached some sort of understanding on the financial liberties he could take with his collection. He bought the Star Wars Trilogy and James Cameron’s movies on laser, as well as the Disney classics, excusing his purchases as gifts for his newborn son. These were his Must-Have movies, or movies he could watch over and over again everyday.
Of course, sometimes he would excuse his new purchases as being simply too good to pass up, like the time he bought a brand-new Groundhog Day laser disc for four hundred pesos, a steal if ever there was one. So, if you’ve ever seen a grown man dancing on the aisles of Astrovision while holding videos and laser discs, then you’ve probably met my husband.
Pretty soon, my husband’s collection grew to almost video store-like proportions. We still have some old movies on Betamax, though only for sentimental reasons, what with our player having heaved its last breath four years ago.
We have almost two hundred videos on VHS and around a hundred on laser discs. It got to a point where we had to transform our bedroom into his storage and viewing room, and we had to buy new furniture just to accommodate his unwieldy collection.
Most weekends, we had to pull him out of the bedroom to stop him from going through his collection and watching them over and over again, one by one. Most irksome was his love for Titanic and Twister, movies you wouldn’t catch me dead watching.
On days when he was feeling particularly amorous, he would set his chosen format of Titanic (he has both original VHS and laser disc versions) and watch with rapt attention, oblivious to the gagging, retching noises I made beside him. So, on the day my husband declared his intention to curb his movie addiction, I heaved a sigh of relief.
The truth was, my devious darling stopped buying movies to save up for a VCD player and a DVD player. In the meantime, he satiated his need to watch movies by simply renting at the video store.
And when he finally managed to buy his dream equipment after scrimping on his bonuses and setting aside part of his salary every month for around half a year, he couldn’t resist laying off the software. Needless to say, he was able to build a considerable collection of Chinese movies on VCD and just about everything else on DVD.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that my husband’s favorite store is Astrovision. We’ve been to different branches of this store almost every week this past year, and often, he goes home with one or two chosen DVD purchases. It really is an undying love for him.
I don’t think love for the movies is genetic, but somehow (through osmosis, perhaps?), he’s passed his passion to our eldest son. Alex guards his own DVD collection of Disney movies and Japanese anime with zealous vigilance and vehemently objects at idle threats of selling them off to Disney lovers. Surprisingly, his favorite movie is about twin girls (The Parent Trap), an amazing complement to his Rurouni Kenshin videos.
My husband and son gang up on me every night, forcing me to watch a movie they’ve scheduled for the night. Weekends are no different. These days, I have two couch potatoes to drag and pull out of the house. Most of the time, I win handily in what I consider to be a tribute to female persuasive owers. It turns out, however, that he actually lets me win so we can scout for more DVDs. It’s always a compromise, then; he gets what he wants and I get my weekend out of the house.
I’ve been married for ten years this month, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, these movies have added a touch of excitement to our lives.
Truth to tell, I derive a certain amount of security from knowing that tonight, tomorrow night, or even the night after is another movie night. Another movie night with the loves of my life. Romantic nights with When Harry Met Sally, adventure nights with The Goonies, Sci-fi nights with The Matrix — when I think about how our choices in movies have grown with our marriage, I sigh in bliss.
But, hey, don’t tell my husband I told you that.
Update (Seven Years Later):
Alex’s tastes in movies have certainly grown with him. While Rurouni Kenshin will always be a favorite, he’s given up The Parent Trap for more adult fare. The Disney movies have been passed on to Alphonse, who will remain forever, a Mouseketeer.
The last of the vhs tapes and vcds are boxed up now. There simply is no more room in the house. DVDs rule our home as we wait for more blu-ray discs and players to flood the market.
And yes, we now have original vhs, vcd, laser disc, and dvd versions of Titanic.