A film enthusiast decided to live his life in a drive-in theater. To be outside, and watch movies—it fixed the principal drawback of the pastime
The location of his lifelong experiment was all-important, a place to showcase the changing of the seasons. Snow on three non-consecutive days in the winter. A church in earshot, so he could hear the Easter chimes every spring. The location would double as a dog park in the summer, because dogs were better creatures than men, and he liked to be around them. And no evergreen nonsense in the autumn—he wanted to see those leaves as they changed color.
First he watched To Kill A Mockingbird, and that set the tone for the life to come. He knew he would be revisiting this movie often… it was a catchall that handled every doubt about the proper way to behave in any situation, and he tended to blindly grope in that department.
He started to grow. For the longest time he thought his assertions of independence were a mark of maturity, but in time he recognized the truth: he might have been the captain of his own ship, but his existence was not his own. He had to consider the other people in his life before he acted. Therefore he watched Pinocchio, because that little wooden boy put Geppetto through the ringer.
At the same time the movie enthusiast knew he was not his father, grandfather, uncle, or anyone else for that matter. His genes did not determine who he was. He was not bound by the sins of those who had come before. The Star Wars Saga
Negative emotions kept fighting to get out of him. When he felt jealous, he watched Amadeus, a reminder that jealousy could make a person do terrible things. And sometimes jealousy could color the way you behaved towards people who were close to you, and that was ugliest of all.
The film enthusiast knew it was inevitable that certain people were going to want to hurt him, stifle him, break his heart, or kill him, or all of the above. But he watched Miller’s Crossing, and that demonstrated that when he went down, he should go with dignity and grace. He watched The Searchers, too, when he was wronged, and it made him think twice before taking revenge.
The sin and the sinner? Miles apart. Even hating someone evil was wrong. Return of the Jedi.
Pride was dangerous. The film enthusiast watched Touch of Evil to remind him it was the only sin. Whenever he felt sanctified, whenever he felt superior and thought that heaven would be his final destination for certain, he watched Brazil. Most evil was committed casually and callously, and he was reminded not to be so sure of his own high worth just because he had never actually killed a man. By that criteria, most were saints.
But pride was not to be mistaken for confidence. The movie enthusiast knew he would get his chance in life, just like everyone else would, and that was certain. The system was not insurmountable, all one needed was some ingenuity. Return of the Jedi.
He took a wife. A woman in an unrevealing white garment was just as sexy as the same women wearing a gold bikini. Strong and intelligent was attractive. Star Wars.
When he argued with his wife about money, it was time for Citizen Kane. Money was important, but he tried to not let it interfere with his interpersonal relationships, which were the most important things in the universe
He and his wife had kids, and Godfather taught that a person could actually be evil and still be a good father, so there was hope. He would look to Vito for wisdom as he raised his brood.
As the film enthusiast grew older, he watched movies less and read history more, which was ironic because he lived in a drive-in movie theater. Whenever it was time for some culture, he watched Fantasia to put him in the correct frame of mind. Fantasia took the snobs of the world down a peg. Good for Fantasia. Bring on the pachyderm ballerinas, that was the motto of the film enthusiast!
He kept growing older. Apocalypse Now loomed large, and he revisited it often. The dark night of the soul was seductive, but while it was good to be philosophical, he decided to never take himself too seriously. And yet there was nothing inherently wrong with being crazy. Everyone was. As long as you were nice crazy, that would set you apart. Hence, Harvey.
He grew older still, and started to really feel death’s shadow. No Country For Old Men was useful. Given the choice between dying or renouncing everything he believed in, he knew he would happily bite the dust, and that was comforting, because it put death in perspective.
He drank more wine as he got older. Godfather.
Then it was time to die, and much too soon, but his life could have been worse. He watched Beetlejuice to remind himself that death was just a part of life. The last movie he would ever see was Fellowship of the Ring, just for that moment when Aragorn, facing probable death at the hands of an evil horde, lifted his sword and smiled the smallest of smiles, because there were worse ways to go.
And the film enthusiast died.
Actually… no, he did not.
But he had seen every movie in the world.
He thought back on his life. Deep down he had always known those movies were telling him things he had already understood, natural things that every human being was aware of, probably since birth. And no other form of mass media did a better job of reinforcing those truths. Films were twenty times larger than life, and their makers had only two, succinct hours to work with.
Had the film enthusiast just been killing time at the movies? Probably. But then, the history of the human species has been one long attempt to flee the ticking clock.
The elderly film enthusiast was glad he no longer lived in a drive-in movie theater. The weekend with its new summer movie would arrive soon enough.
He decided to go for a walk somewhere less civilized.