In any case, a few days ago, I did get the chance to sit down to a movie, a movie I watched often when I was younger: Flight of the Navigator. Abby said she was done with period pieces for a while, and I thought she had said that she liked Flight of the Navigator from when she was a kid, so I put it at the top of the Netflix queue. It turns out, I made that part up. She had never heard of it, and after reading the description and hearing the '80s music play over the DVD menu, she wasn't particularly keen on watching it. Still, since we rarely send Netflix DVDs back without watching them and she wanted this one sent back right away, she agreed to, and so we watched it.
I realized early on that I remembered almost nothing about the movie.
I can't give an accurate count of the number of times I've seen the movie in my life, but I feel like I watched this movie all the time as a kid--probably a few times a year for five or so years. But I completely forgot the plot (boy falls asleep in the woods; when he wakes up, he hasn't aged, but everything around him is eight years older). What did I remember? The robot. The spaceship. The spaceship and the robot flying over the Everglades. That's it.
It reminded me of a story I found that I wrote in first or second grade. Here it is, reprinted in its entirety (though without my awesome drawings):
One day Emily found a professor. His name was Professor Hall. They asked him if he had a time machine. He said, "Yes." So he said, "I'll bring it to your house." When it was there Emily said, "Let's go." Then they went 65 million years back in time. There was a Tyrannosaurus. He got so mad he smashed the time machine. Emily said, "Let's make friends." Tyrannosaurus let them on his back and ride. A triceratops tried to horn them. But Emily said, "Let's be friends." So they did. They saw a pteranodon. It tried to charge them. Emily said, "Let's make friends" and they did. They met a compsognathus. They met a mammoth. The mammoth put their machine together. They said, "Good bye." They went back in time.What does this story have to do with Flight of the Navigator? Well, for one thing, it verifies something I've heard before but had never really given credence to: we remember what is important to us. I remembered the robot and the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator, but really nothing else because that's what was important to me. Watching the movie again, though, I couldn't help but think that it would have been a better movie without the robot and spaceship. Better, perhaps, but less memorable. (The robot, voiced by Pee Wee Herman--you were right, Abby!--was super annoying.)
The story above illustrates a similar point. I knew my teachers would want me to write a story about people (because characters carry the drama; without characters, there is no story; blah, blah, blah), but all I really wanted to write about was dinosaurs and time machines. Yes, there is Emily and the professor, but really, they are only in the story in that they lead up to the time machine and the dinosaurs. In fact, in the drawings that accompany this story, there are pictures of dinosaurs and a time machine. (I even drew a compsognathus.) No humans are to be found anywhere. Why? They weren't the important part of the story.
(A brief aside: The whole robot/machine thing is also the reason why The Omega Virus was one of my favorite games growing up and why I have so many fond memories playing it. It is the ultimate boy game.)
What was your favorite movie from childhood? Have you watched it recently? You might be surprised by how what you remember compares to what's recorded on the film.