Reigniting My Love Of Film

Film has always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sunny weekend afternoons sitting in front of the television with my Dad watching some black and white film from the 40s or a classic like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

As a child my parents bought me Disney film after Disney film on VHS and I would watch my favourite scenes repeatedly, particularly Colonel Hathi’s March from The Jungle Book for some reason. As I got older my interest turned to a hobby. Every school holiday was spent trying to fit in as many films as I could, buying cheap DVDs in HMV, begging my Dad to let me buy a 3.99 recent release from Sky Box Office, or trying to persuade friends to come to the cinema instead of a day spent shopping.

When I discovered magazines like Total Film and Empire I was in my element, trying to tick off every film the magazines mentioned and then scouring the IMDB forums to read other people’s opinions. While I’ve always hated Winter with a passion, January and February meant awards season and awards seasons meant red carpets and soundtracks and costume design and making bets with my Dad to see how many award winners we could predict correctly while we rolled our eyes at my Mum not knowing who directed There Will Be Blood.

When university applications began, I applied to 5 universities: 3 for French and German and 2 for German and Film. I had half hoped that I would be rejected from some so that I didn’t have to make a decision but getting offers from all 5 places made me question what I wanted more. In the end I chose French and German, deeming it more ‘useful,’ and over time my interest dwindled.

Life got in the way, cinema ticket prices increased and I stopped buying the magazines and the DVDs. Over the past few years I could barely tell you who had won an award, let alone been nominated for one. Then last year I went to the cinema to see La La Land and it sparked something. I hadn’t been to the cinema for over a year and while I liked the film, I didn’t love it the way some people felt. But something about being in the cinema, the sounds, the darkness, the feeling that came over me afterwards of having to read about the film, read reviews, forum posts made me realise that film had been missing from my life for a while.

And so I made the effort again. I bought the magazines, I took advantage of Netflix and my passion for film was reignited. It might not seem like much but sitting here tonight waiting for the BAFTA red carpet to start, with my list of predictions for winners, makes me feel so nostalgic for teenage me and it feels so nice.

Rachel x-x-x

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Mental Health Patient Or Homicidal Maniac?

When I think about films about mental health I think One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Next, Hannibal and Psycho. Although I’ve read the former, I haven’t seen it, however I have seen and loved the latter two. These are great films, classics and in different ways, they are scary. Scary because of institutionalisation, insanity and confused identities.

I watched these two films before I had a real interest in mental health, before my views had been changed my research and making an effort to find things out myself. I think these films are wonderful, they are some of my favourites, both because of the cinematography and the content, but one thing they’re not is a good portrayal of mental health.

Take Psycho, thief on the run Marion Crane books into a motel run by Norman Bates, a seemingly ‘normal’ man who turns out to be a ‘psycho-killer’ a term which has been popularised by the film industry. Norman Bates appears to have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) despite often being categorised as a schizophrenic. This, in turn, has caused tremendous stigma around both DID and Schizophrenia and as a result has led to confusion about both disorders amongst the general public.

The film industry is enormous. It has pumped out hundreds of films over the years, and a huge proportion of these have taken on the topic of mental illness showing various degrees of severity. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Still Alice, Misery, Requiem for a Dream, Prozac Nation, Little Miss Sunshine, these are just a handful of films. Some of which (I think) show a great representation of mental health, where others fail. But does it matter?

I think it does. Because film has the power to change our opinions on mental health. For many people it’s the only exposure that people get of mental health so when it looks like a man dressing up as his dead mother or a killer nurse seeking revenge, it’s just so damaging to the public’s view of mental illness. The stereotype is all too common. The idea that people with mental illnesses are violent, need saving or can be ‘fixed.’ When psychosis on the big screen only ever looks like you’re a violent killer, or schizophrenia means that you have multiple personalities, it’s easier to understand where people’s prejudices come from regarding mental health.

Reading this back, I wonder whether I’m getting into social justice warrior territory and wanting something that is meant as entertainment to be an honest and beneficial portrayal of mental health. But the thing is, I don’t think that is unreasonable. The film industry needs to take responsibility for contributing towards mental health stigma for fear of making it even worse than it is.

Do you think it matters if entertainment portrays mental health negatively? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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My Dark Tourism Wishlist

This post is inspired by @whatchrisdoes’ short film on Dark Tourism which you can check out here. It’s an absolute must if you’ve got a soft spot for death, murder and serial killers. And if, like me, you didn’t really know much about dark tourism before, you’ll learn plenty.

As you probably all know, I’m super interested in all things true crime. But dark tourism isn’t really something that’s crossed my mind too much. As much as I’m all for the gory details of serial killers and everything Manson related, there’s something about going to visit the sites of murders and huge natural disasters that makes me feel a little uneasy. It’s not so much the morality of it all, but that I’m scared something I’ll want to unsee, or you know, ghosts.

But there are a few places in the world that I’d love to visit, to satisfy that dark tourist in me.

10050 Cielo Drive, Benedict Canyon, LA

This was the house that saw the murder of Sharon Tate along with her house guests who were¬†visiting on the night they were killed by the Manson ‘Family.’ Everything about the Mansons absolutely fascinates me and I’ve love to have a good look around the house, especially as it had so many famous residents before Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate moved in.

Since the murders, the house has been knocked down and rebuilt, but I’d still love to check it out and feel those creepy vibes.

Aokigahara

So I know this is a wishlist of places I’d like to visit but there’s no way in hell I would actually set foot in Aokigahara forest. It’s best known as being one of the most popular suicide destinations with more than 100 bodies found in the forest each year.

Even google imaging this place gives me a sicky feeling in my stomach. You couldn’t pay me to visit here but it still intrigues me as a dark tourism site!

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is one of the places that I always say I’ll go every time I’m in London but so far I’ve never been. This is mostly because I can never find anyone to go with me and I don’t really fancy going to a huge cemetery by myself. I’m not sure how much cemeteries count when it comes to dark tourism but I’d love to visit this place because I just feel like there would be an air of inspiration coming from it, as though the decaying bodies of Marx and George Eliot are giving off the secrets of success.

The Peterson House, North Carolina

If you’re unaware of the story behind the Peterson house then take yourself off to have a little Google and come back when you’ve lost six hours of your life. And don’t even think about suggesting that you’re team owl to me. Since I first heard about Kathleen Peterson’s murder, I have been obsessed with this case. And I would love nothing more than to scour that house top to bottom for clues, not that I’m suggesting I could do a better job than the investigators, of course.

Rachel x-x-x

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