The Courier: 30 days of film - day 1

The Courier Film writers have officially been challenged to 30 days of film. To kick us off, our writers time-travel back to the first film we remember watching.

multiple writers
15th April 2020
Image: IMDB
What better way to spend lockdown than a 30 day challenge? You may have seen The Courier: 30 Days of Music. Here's the film edition. To kick us off, our writers cast their minds back to the first film they remember watching...
Dumbo (1941)

The first film I ever remember watching is the magnificent Disney classic Dumbo. As a young child, it just ticked all the boxes. It has wild animals, a circus, massive ears, bright colours and a happy-go-lucky soundtrack. Surprisingly, though, what I remember most is the wonderful scene where Dumbo accidentally glugs on a full bucket of champagne and has the most fantastic hallucinations. Pink Elephants on Parade, arguably one of my favourite sequences in cinematic history, boasts surreal imagery, neon colours and absolutely wonderful music. As a small child I just couldn't sit still watching it - this scene would make me dance around our living room, trying to mimic the elephants' bizarre movements while giggling and singing along (and yes, we have this on video if you're interested).

Image Credit: IMDB

It packs a punch in just 64 minutes. And yet Wikipedia informs me that, unlike Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, all of which also released in the early 1940s, budget restraints mean that Dumbo comparatively contains very few special effects, simpler character designs and less detailed background paintings, which were done in watercolour.

Dumbo is one of Disney's first animated feature films, and so it seems only fitting that it's one of my first film memories too. And it is purely because this film is so magical that I know that the 2019 live action remake could never live up to it.

Grace Dean

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The first film I ever remember watching was the animated and to this day, the best Disney film - Beauty and the Beast. I remember thinking as a kid - finally, a Disney princess that is just like me, with her brown hair and her love and passion for reading.

What I love most about this film is the sophisticated and subtle relationship between Belle and the Beast that is captured with the warmth and vibrancy you would expect of a Disney film. From the sweeping ballroom scenes to the toe-tapping songs that you cannot help but belt out at the top of your lungs, Beauty and the Beast captures everything that is beautiful about the original animated Disney films. To this day, despite the creation of Tangled and Brave, this film still stands as my favourite and the live-action remake with Emma Watson will never live up to the classic.

Lucy Lillystone

The Little Mermaid (1989)

I’m not sure if this is technically the first film I watched, but it’s definitely the one I remember watching the most from my earliest memories. The Little Mermaid (1989) is such a landmark in terms of Disney history. It literally saved the Disney animation studios when they were on the brink of bankruptcy, and was the first musical and Disney Princess film since Walt Disney’s death. If we didn’t have The Little Mermaid, we arguably wouldn’t have any of the Disney Renaissance movies.

Image Credit: IMDB

As a kid, I used to watch the film on repeat and I had a full-on obsession with the film. All I wanted in life was an Ariel dressing up costume (as I had quite the collection of Disney ones back in the day, including Belle’s dress from The Enchanted Christmas - yikes) yet they never stocked them. However, now every Disney Store sells them and it makes me angry every time I walk in. Despite this childhood trauma of never getting that costume, I had everything else head-to-toe The Little Mermaid and I still love it to this day.

Sophie Hicks

Shrek 2 (2004)

Turns out Smash Mouth was right when he said “the world is gonna roll me” because the world sure does suck at the moment. But at least we still have the gift that keeps on giving that is Shrek 2 (2004). With an all-star (see what I did there) cast including Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy this ogre filled masterpiece is the first movie I remember watching, or at least the first one to leave a lasting impression. A lot of us grew up loving these films and they definitely peaked with the first sequel thanks to a fun plot, epic soundtrack and brilliant antagonists in the fairy god mother and prince charming. Most sequels try to go bigger but end up failing as they miss what makes the original so great. Shrek 2 certainly goes bigger, giant gingerbread men sized bigger, but still feels like a natural progression for the story. In short, I love this film and I couldn’t think of a better way to start a lifetime of film obsession. Shrek is love, Shrek is life.

George Bell

High School Musical (2006)

High School Musical, who says we have to let it go? Not me! 

Image Credit: IMDB

I remember sitting in the cinema at the ripe age of 6 years old, nearly sobbing my heart out because I wanted Gabriella and Troy to get together. Sharpay, I mean yes I respect her now for being such a diva, but back then…I hated her. No matter how FABULOUS she was, she was in the way of true love, and six year old me could not handle that. 

I am so glad that this is the first film I remember going to watch, because is there really any other film that sums up our childhood more than this film? I had the WHOLE SET of merchandise, from the song manuals to the pencil cases, I was an avid fan, and a proud one at that.

Sophie Wilson

Matilda (1996)

This is definitely not the first film I ever watched. However, it is the first film I recall watching over and over from a young age. I was always a keen reader, and Matilda definitely pushed this further.

I wanted to be just like her. I yearned for the books she read throughout the movie. I probably wanted the superpowers too, but mostly the books. I went through a phase of wearing ribbons in my hair just like she did. It was the first movie that changed me for the better. I remember how genius I thought it was; it really made me want to be creative. Fast forward to now, I study English literature and creative writing and I think this movie has a little something to do with that. I was totally obsessed with the characters. Miss Honey was an angel. And Danny DeVito as Mr Wormwood? Iconic. Also, I found out later that he actually directed Matilda. Who'd have thought?

Matilda never failed to make me laugh, and always made me feel a little less alone in the big wide world that I had yet to fully understand.

Amy Brown

Cinderella (1950)

When thinking back to my childhood a flashback to a lot of Disney and Pixar movies fill my memory and even now I proudly own all Disney movies on DVD and VHS (yes I still have them!). So, it seems quite fitting that the first movie I remember watching was Cinderella, the Disney classic. A traditional tale of a poor girl, who is unfairly mistreated by her stepmother and two ugly stepsisters, meets her handsome prince charming and they fall in love. With the additional characters of a fairy godmother, two exceptionally cute mice and a pumpkin carriage.

Image Credit: IMDB

As a child, I had a slight obsession with the story of Cinderella and thanks to having the film on VHS and a mother who would let me watch it on a daily basis, my obsession grew to the point I would only walk around in an old tattered dress my grandma had quickly put together. Now thanks to a subscription (I was more than happy to pay!) to Disney+ I can now watch Cinderella as many times as I want throughout quarantine, along with all my other childhood favourites.

Amy Harris

Finding Nemo (2003)

The first film I vividly remember watching was Finding Nemo, the last film our family owned on VHS (very cool, very modern). There’s something about the vast blueness of everything and especially Dory that I really remember watching at home, probably hiding behind a pillow from Bruce. Slightly surprised braces girl didn't give me nightmares, though. And it’s not a bad first film at all – well done to my parents – given it’s now pretty much a classic. Although I really really do not like sailing. Whether it’s because I live on an island and people tried to teach me (when I very much did not want to learn) or the fact this was my first film, is anyone’s guess. I suppose it’s got a pretty good message for these times as well; just keep swimming. Metaphorically, of course. 

Harriet Metcalfe

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

This film is a masterpiece. I’m not biased I’m just speaking the truth. This film creates a world much like Harry Potter or Lord of the rings, called Monstropolis. The city is build on the power of childrens’ screams. To get these screams are ‘Scarers’ the celebrities of Monstropolis. The most charismatic of these is Sully and his bouncy ball of a side kick Mike Wazowski.

Image Credit: IMDB

This film is particularly special as while it’s the first I remember seeing it also was the first film I remember my mum crying to. While this film is packed with comedy when Monstropolis is infiltrated by Boo a child whose antics turn Sully and Mike’s world upside down, it is ultimately sewn together with the messages of friendship between Sully and Mike and the lesson of compassion even in the face of fear. This is where my movie watching career started and to be honest with such a brilliant film first it’s been downhill since then.

Eve Ducker

Flushed Away (2006)

An incredible tale of crime, romance, classism, and the only film ever to make rats look vaguely attractive, Flushed Away (2006) is one of the best animated films from the days where the hidden games on the DVD ‘extras’ menu were as exciting as the main feature itself. Genuinely funny to this day (see: the Millicent Bystander joke) and with a banging rock soundtrack, this story of sewer creatures from the makers of Wallace and Gromit is very nostalgic and surprisingly fast-paced. And anyone who says they never had a crush on that rat is lying.

Leonie Bellini

The Road to El Dorado (2000)

I'm not 100% certain that this is definitely the first film I ever saw, it is however one of the first I remember and an absolute classic. I see it now as an inspiration for the adventure I seek in life exploring new things, be it places, foods or experiences. I attribute the joy of discovery to this film. I suppose if that's the message I get from the film that does also include trickery and deceit then I guess i'm pretty lucky. With a music score mostly composed by Elton John and Hans Zimmer it is no surprise that the film was so memorable! Not the most popular film on this list but without a doubt worth a watch!

Patrick Harland

Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

The earliest memories I could scramble up myself of watching films were of mediocre horror films (M.H.Fs) at my uncle's house with my cousins back when I was around 7 or 8 and watching old war movie classics like The Guns of Navarrone (1969) and The Dirty Dozen (1967) at my other uncle's house. I'd much rather have written about those, but unfortunately they came a few years after the mediocre horror films. One M.H.F that stands out, in particular, is Jeepers Creepers. I've got no clue which part it was or even what the movie was about apart from there being a monster that a group of protagonists have to avoid, typical of mass media style horror films, but I'm guessing it was 2 because I've googled it and it looks the most familiar.

Image Credit: IMDB

Not much to say about it really, as the real importance of these memories isn't the films themselves but the fun times spent with family that I now seldom see, being thousands of miles away and all. It does seem a bit fishy that my uncle decided Jeepers Creepers was a good movie to show children. That might have something to do with why I can never stand horror films now.

Muslim Taseer

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