One of my favourite things about movies is that they're tiny, glowing time travel machines, where you can escape into any place or time of your choosing. I'm not just referring to the movies themselves, which can transport us to the worlds they've made for us, but also to the memories each movie might provoke in us, of where and when we saw it for the very first time.
The very first movie I ever remember seeing was The Little Mermaid. I remember being terrified of Ursula, but feeling comforted by my auntie, who patiently sat through every song so her small niece could be entertained and clap her hands for 82 minutes. I don't remember much else about the movie, but I do remember how my auntie held me and stroked my hair when the Sea Witch did her rumpy-pumpy, bottom-wobble dance to "Poor Unfortunate Souls", which at the time I thought was the worst and most horrifying thing I had ever encountered in my brief and uneventful life.
So, if you ever feel like time travelling, a movie is a good place to start. I am definitely a '90s kid (even though The Little Mermaid came out in 1989), so I decided to look up the most successful movies of the first five years of the 20th century's last decade to see where they might take me. These movies help me time travel, but even if you haven't seen any of them before, you can make new memories with what they have to offer:
Ghost is SO GREAT, because it is super-schmaltzy and melodramatic. Oh wow. I can't even begin to imagine how many people took up pottery after seeing Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore spin that clay together. Also, how many movies can you think of where a ghost and a lady have romantic times together? Not many, I bet. Thank you, 1990. You truly were the greatest.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
I honestly don't know how many times I have seen T2. I also don't remember when I first saw it. Like Star Wars, Aliens and Kraft cheese it seems to have always been a fixture of my childhood.
My tastes have moved on and changed in a lot of ways, but I still find myself magnetised by how much of this movie is stuck in my memory. The ideas don't really hold up (the internet will kill us all! Although I suppose this is partly true) or the fears about nuclear war (although maybe we should be a bit more afraid of that). It always was and still is about the delight to be taken in James Cameron's talent for arranging the textures and rhythms of pure action filmmaking that always keeps an eye towards moments of family intimacy and ordinariness – bodies, surfaces, light and sound, all moving together in time in an acutely observed and real world.
I can't think of Aladdin without thinking of the hours I spent playing the Aladdin video game on my Sega Megadrive. This makes me feel slightly sad about my choices, but then I listened to "A Whole New World" being played on 16-bit synth and regret nothing.
Aladdin the movie is amazing! I mean, it's a Disney movie, which means it's basically a dressed-up boy-meets-girl romance (but this time with an anthropomorphic flying carpet, Robin Williams and a monkey named Abu). But hey, some formulas work for a reason and this is one of them.
The fact that they are still making movies with "Jurassic" in the title is an indication of how big a deal Jurassic Park was when it was released 1993. Everybody went to see the booming, roaring dinosaur movie when it came out! My friend Jane even went seven times!
I went zero times, because my mum wouldn't let me. I saw it for the first time in 3D two years ago, to celebrate its 20th anniversary. It was everything I could ever hope for (and maybe a tiny bit more)! There were DINOSAURS. There was CLONING. It even featured SAMUEL L. JACKSON smoking cigarettes and yelling at computers! And all in 3D. Beautiful.
The Lion King
Very few films have surpassed The Lion King as far as enduring cultural influence goes. Little kids STILL go to see The Lion King, with wide eyes and open mouths, but this time on the stage and acted out with real people and puppets. They sing all the same songs. They would understand what I was doing if I sang, "NAAAAAA SEVANYAAAAAAAAAAAA!" at the morning sun. They might even join me.
The Lion King is what ties my childhood to the childhood of a small person born a couple of years ago. It's what brings the space and time that separates us together and entwines my memories of seeing it at Sam Wheatley's birthday party – where I ate Jaffas and covered my face with my hands whenever Scar was onscreen – with theirs. Movies are amazing and magical like that.