These timeless classics got me thinking what was going on the first time I watched them.
Judging by the cover image, you may be thinking one of these two things: either “what the hell is that?” or “oh yeah, that movie…” That’s exactly the point I want to make here. Even if you’re a real film junkie, you have to admit that there have been particular movies that needed a second watch before you truly knew whether you liked them or not. There's no reason to worry about it. Filmmakers and screenwriters constantly try to astound their audience with unique and elaborated stories that we don’t have to figure out all at once, because they take time to be fully enjoyed.
Movies can be confusing for many reasons: the plot may be too complicated, the script too entangled, the characters too mysterious, or maybe the moment we chose to watch them wasn’t ideal (we weren’t old enough or we were too sleepy to pay attention). Either way, here are some examples of movies I had to watch more than once to fully understand what was going on:
Cloud Atlas (2012), Dir. Tom Tykwer and Lilly Wachowski
Well, the first time I watched Cloud Atlas, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A lot of people told me that it was too long, too complicated, too boring, too confusing… It felt like such a handful. Nonetheless, I also heard the best comments about the script, the plot, and the cast. Feeling a little bit torn, I decided to go for it, and after three hours, I felt sad, happy, in love, hopeful, and all in all, mind-blown. Since the movie entails completely different time settings and characters that at some point are entwined, keeping track of all the things that are going on can be frustrating. I even watched it with pause breaks to sum up the plot every 30 minutes or so, but I still was really puzzled. The second time I watched it, I knew what to expect, but instead of building an understandable story, I spotted new details and my confusion grew deeper. It wasn’t until the third time that I was able to appreciate this masterpiece, and I have to say that even if it takes six hours of your time to understand this movie, it’s totally worth it.
Fight Club (1999), Dir. David Fincher
My issue with this movie was not the plot but how it developed. Besides being constantly distracted by a young and fit Brad Pitt, the fact that his character plays such an important role in the narrator’s life had me thinking that he was the main character, so I missed a lot of important information. Sure, he is significant for the story, but I admit that until the second time I watched it, I fully understood Norton’s speech about insomnia and going crazy, as well as what was happening with him and why. After watching Fight Club a couple of times, I got to love this movie so much that I now consider it one of my personal favorites. This was mostly because I made an effort to fully appreciate Fincher’s work of art, which I found to be enlightening in some everyday matters that applied to my own life.
Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1982), Dir. Alan Parker, Gerald Scarfe
In my particular case, watching The Wall for the first time was one of the most disturbing experiences ever. This was mostly because I was a kid when I first came across this film, and understandably, I had no idea what was going on. At that time, I thought that if a movie had cartoons in it, it was made for kids, and boy, I was wrong. Fortunately, years passed by, and I eventually became a hardcore fan of Pink Floyd’s music, hence the moment arrived to give this movie another chance. Now that I was able to understand the symbolism behind every cartoon, every song, and the historic context it entailed, I wasn't shocked, but delighted. I have to say that Roger Waters and Bob Geldof made a genius and trippy experience that everyone, not just Pink Floyd fans, should watch at least once in their life.
Stay (2005), Dir. Marc Forster
The first time I heard about this movie, it was a recommendation from a person I wasn’t very fond of, so I was really reluctant about watching it. A couple of months later, the title popped up again when my boyfriend suggested to watch Stay during our Netflix & Chill weekly sessions, so I thought “Why not?” As a psychologist, the movie was a lot to handle the first time I watched it. The fact that the whole plot revolves around suicide and how a therapist wants to stop his patient from killing himself was a little overwhelming. Moreover, the photography elements and special effects are a huge part of the movie, so if I missed a mind-blowing scene and the whooshy images before Ryan Gosling's character's suicidal declarations or behaviors, the entire movie didn’t make sense anymore. After watching it in a more patient are open-minded mood, I really appreciated the quality of this story. It's definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of “mind-fucking” films.
Predestination (2014), Dir. Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig
First of all, I have to say that Ethan Hawke performs one of his best characters in Predestination. I can’t even explain the genius behind his work in this movie because I would heavily spoil you the whole story, so I will just recommend you find it on your streaming service and give this movie a chance to blow your mind away. Time travel related topics can always turn out to be hard to process, and this movie is no exception for the rule. But at the same time, this same matter is used in such an original way that you’ll enjoy moving through time in such an intense way. Very much like Cloud Atlas, the mix between characters and plot was very confusing to me, in addition to the different periods of time that are explored throughout the movie. You’ll probably end up a little confused at the end of the movie, but if you give it another try, you’ll get to enjoy a very heavy but compelling story.
Did any of these movies leave you puzzled the first time you watched them? And in case you haven't, which one of these are you willing to give a chance to blow your mind?