Essays · Movies

Second Chances: The Story of Cinematic Re-Evaluation

By  · Published on February 24th, 2017

Ever hated a movie the first time you saw it, then loved it the second? This video’s for you.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” or so the saying goes, and while this is factually true, it’s not as absolute at it sounds. Yes, you can only meet someone or see something for the first time once, but that doesn’t have to be the basis for your entire and everlasting opinion of it or them. How many couples, after all, start out disliking each other? Better yet, how many films have you seen for the first time, disliked, then saw again later and loved? For me personally, this latter question conjures movies to mind like Idiocracy, I Heart Huckabees, and Kundun. In each instance I was less than enthused upon that initial watch, but upon a second viewing, they redeemed themselves, or rather I guess I allowed them to redeem themselves by keeping an open mind.

Whatever the reason, there are scores of films that today we consider indispensable classics that in their own time were ill-received, dismissed, or generally just not liked. Films like Citizen Kane and Vertigo – which consistently occupy the top two spots on most folks Best Films Ever list – Blade Runner, Heaven’s Gate, Psycho, even the universally-beloved It’s a Wonderful Life originally opened to less than stellar reviews.

It’s a bit of a phenomena, the redemptive re-evaluation of movies, and that makes it a fascinating point of study, as evidenced by the latest video from The Royal Ocean Film Society in which the concept and the effected films are discussed. Sometimes the change has to do with us – the first time I saw Kundun I was too young to appreciate it – and sometimes the change is cultural – Idiocracy was just a dumb comedy 10 years ago; today it’s the most relevant American film ever made – but however we arrive at a new understanding, it proves that when it comes to art, at least, don’t trust your instincts, challenge them, you just might end up loving something you thought you hated, and there’s nothing better than that.

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