My Top Five Most Formative Films


Between work becoming horrendously busy and a general lack of motivation, posts have been a rare occurrence on the blog lately. So, to remedy this, I’ve decided to write posts that take stock (in a sense) and indulge in a pool of comfort.

As I turn the page on my twenties (in a few months), I’ve been thinking about the aspects that have led me to this point in my life. Part of this has made me wonder about the movies that have been formative in my passion for writing about cinema (for a number of years).

However, before we get to the post, what are some of your formative films? What movies made you fall in love with the medium? Let me know in the comments below.

5) The Wind Rises (2014)

While Disney movies introduced me to animation, it’s not a genre that’s held much interest for me (in my adult years). However, this all changed when I saw The Wind Rises last year. It was a resonating experience that explored creativity and its conflict with commerce. But above all, it considers a question that not many films, let alone animated ones consider; what constitutes a well lived life? And how do you square that between your personal life and ambition? It’s a touching and beautiful movie, illustrating the soaring heights the genre can reach.

4) Inherent Vice (2015)

While Sin City (2005) was my first exposure to the Neo-Noir sub-genre, Inherent Vice cemented my love affair with it. Crucially, it sparked my fascination with characters who are inhabited by their demons (in the midst of being involved with an overarching mystery). Doc’s dope smoking demeanour combined with the elusive nature of the plot made for an experiential and comedic effort that greatly appealed to me. At the same time, the film taught me important lessons about reviewing and got me to read Thomas Pynchon.

3) A Clockwork Orange (1972)

Quite simply, A Clockwork Orange was the first film to needle at me. I was not sure how I felt about it. My fixation with getting a firm read off it sowed the seeds that grew into my hobby of writing about film. The early seventies film also made me sit up and start considering the auteur theory, black comedy and the importance of set design in moviemaking. It was also one of the first classic films that I saw on the big screen, which felt quite transgressive (given Orange’s infamous UK release).

2) The Exorcist (1974)

As alluded to in one of my recent posts, The Exorcist is one of my cinematic obsessions. In part, I’m fascinated by its choices, filmmaking, and approach to adapting the source material. It’s also one of those films that proves how a work of art can have a particular power that goes beyond its subject matter. This almost haunting quality that exists in its most mundane and quiet moments will always keep me coming back…

1) Star Wars (1978)

From James Cameron to Ridley Scott, everyone and their mother has found Star Wars to be a formative film. However, for a six-year-old who was largely ignorant of moviemaking, the Special Edition of Star Wars on VHS was my first glimpse of what it takes to make a film. It also gave a sense of history with George Lucas’s choices being an interesting view of how a filmmaker sees their work over time. Oh, and the film itself and how it inspired me was the gravy on top.


About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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