Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I was inevitably surrounded by hundreds of videos with films of favourite television programmes recorded off television – Postman Pat, Paddington Bear, the Superman films, Muppets Take Manhattan, Masters of the Universe. My own collection grew in an obsessive fashion until the early 2000’s when videos were no longer relevant, but i learnt this collecting trait from my mother who had a large collection of recordings before I established my own.
One aspect of videos which sticks in the mind (and which also accompanies the various songs on mix-tapes) is that you tend to associate films with others based on the simple fact of them being recorded on the same tape. To finish watching one is to inevitably see the first glimpse of the next film, and if it’s an enjoyable film which you return to again and again this glimpse is repeated, and the association is forever fixed in the mind.
One such link which still has the biggest impact upon me is the one between The Wizard of Oz and Kramer Vs Kramer. From this:
Again, and again, and again. To the extent that when I watch The Wizard of Oz now, it’s ending causes me to anticipate the beginning of Kramer Vs Kramer. And it’s not just that the two films are associated, but that the characters and scenes play out within the same world, so that the father and little boy taking the ice cream (which remains the only scene from that film I have seen) is informed and informs the characters and actions of The Wizard of Oz. The missed parent, Auntie Em glimpsed in the magic screen, the rebellious boy, the girl who ran away from home, the ice cream, the poppy fields; all mirror each other in my memory.
But the association through repetition isn’t the only thing which encourages this reinterpretation of the films (and my reconstructed memories), it’s also the space and context in which I repeatedly watched them. It was a Monday night, 10’s of Monday nights which now appear as one. Me, my father and one of my brothers would be home alone due to my mom’s attending university to study Fine Art. He would cook us dinner (peas, an assortment of frozen vegetables, new potatoes, and variable meat, followed usually by a baked apple with raisins and squirty cream), we would watch a film, I’m sure there were others I don’t recall but it was usually either Wizard of Oz or Cocktails, and then we would drive to Wolverhampton Uni, park by the subway, and play eye-spy in the car whilst we waited for my mom.
The memory of this little routine is parked alongside the muddled scenes of the two films. Therefore Dorothy falling asleep in the poppy fields was my sleep. The little boy refusing his dinner and seeking solace in ice cream was my rebellion. Dustin Hoffman’s anger was my father’s anger. The longing for Auntie Em was my longing. And the melting of the witch was my regretful triumph.