For the Love of Film

Byron Bixler ’17

From the April 2015 Issue

My name is Byron and I am a cinephile.

I’m not sure if it’s always been that way, but I can’t recall a time when movies weren’t a part of my life. As a very young child, Toy Story was the greatest thing ever. Other family movies, like Hercules and Bedknobs and Broomsticks also made an impression, but none so much as Pixar’s first outing with Woody and Buzz. I practically wore out the VHS tape, and there was a point in time when I’d watch it almost every day. Growing up a sports fan, titles like Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield were equally prominent in my movie diet, but Toy Story would always be the film that started it all.

Fast forward a few years, and it was action and spectacle that commanded my attention. Superhero movies like Spider-Man 2, science fiction like I, Robot and disaster pictures like The Day After Tomorrow. This was also around the time that I hit my Star Wars craze, obsessively marathoning the box sets and spending middle school lunch breaks comparing each installation with friends.

But it wasn’t long after this time that I discovered Hayao Miyazaki. A cursed prince in a land of ancient forest spirits. A legendary pilot turned into a pig. An enchanted bath house, a castle with legs and another castle floating amongst the clouds. I watched all of his films in my tween years and looking back, it was the first time that cinema stuck me as something that had the capacity to be more than just entertainment. There were ideas and there was compelling craftsmanship in image and storytelling. Of course, that isn’t to say that the likes of Toy Story and Star Wars were lacking this – it was just something that I’d never considered.

So, I decided to keep digging, eventually discovering Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Bergman and the master that proved to be the crown jewel: Stanley Kubrick. 2001: A Space Odyssey was not my first Kubrick film, but it was the movie that changed everything for me. It captured my imagination with its visuals and encouraged my analytical spirit with its mysterious sense of ambiguity. More than four years after that first viewing, 2001 is still my favorite film; an unrivaled experience that I approach with a kind of solemn reverence whenever I am in need of creative empowerment and inspiration.

As silly as phrases like “solemn reverence” may sound in the context of watching a film, I cannot deny their truth. Film has come to mean so much more to me than I ever imagined it would. In the case of challenging works like Persona or Certified Copy, cinema has served as intellectual aerobics. It has offered temporary escape from harsh truths through movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Memories, both real and sweetly softened have been stored in old favorites such as Peter Pan and Mary Poppins, each new encounter coming with the delusion of somehow accessing the happy times they recall. Perhaps most powerfully of all, cinema has functioned as a cathartic tool and a vessel for reflective thought, like Still Walking did for me just months ago, after the death of a dear friend.

Friendly debate and mental stimulation, nostalgia and emotional release…This is why I do what I do. This is why we started this magazine. It’s all for the love of film.

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