Have you ever watched a movie for the first time and simply fallen in love with it? You’ve never seen it before—maybe you had never even heard of it—and then there it was, shimmering in your eyes, making your heart swell with emotion.
Maybe it scared you in a way that none other had before. Perhaps you laughed out loud over and over like you once did as a child. It could even be something as subtle as finding yourself smiling through the whole movie, until you suddenly discover that your cheeks ache when it’s over.
I love when that happens.
I especially enjoy that feeling when you can’t specifically answer why it was so wonderful. To me, that means that everything fit together perfectly. It meshed and wove so fine a tapestry that the story had no flaws. Or if it did, the flaws seemed to become part of its creators’ whim.
I think of the movie Gaslight, from 1944, starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten. A very young Angela Lansbury has a juicy role in this one, too. This film is crafted to evoke laughter, sympathy, and terror. I found myself startled at how quickly the feelings succeeded each other, even in the same scenes.
Bergman plays Paula Alquist, the niece of a famed singer and stage-player who was brutally murdered when Paula was a child, away at school. Paula returns to her aunt’s home to live, only to discover that the circumstances surrounding her aunt’s murder are playing on her mind. She fears that she is going insane.
The audience fears it, too. We think that she is sound, but we are as helpless as she is to stop the madness from creeping in. We see the clues that Paula sees, but we simply don’t know what they mean. If you’ve ever wondered what it means to be “gas lighted,” just watch this film, and you’ll know.
The story is tightly written, the cast delivers a strong performance, and the director hits every point with precision. The setting is homey and creepy at the same time. The score is haunting and beautiful throughout. You love the heroes and despise the villains—even when you’re not sure why.
Gaslight is just the example. Any well-crafted work of cinema might be described by the paragraph above.
What movies have stolen your heart? I’d love to hear!
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema, Thanks for Reading!
P.S. Cinema Toast turns 1 year old next month! If you would like to write a guest blog about your favorite movie, actor, theatre experience, etc., please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get you a set up with my guidelines and a deadline! Thanks!