The first time I watched a movie on a VCR at home, we were in our first apartment, walking distance to a little convenience store. The store was beginning to rent a VCR (that is, they had a single VCR you could rent) and we somehow scraped up the money to do it. We already knew a bit about the magic of this device, my hairdresser friend had one and used to play movies while she did my hair. There are many movies that, when I watch them, I can almost smell the perm in the air, mixed with a bit of patchouli incense.
The rental VCR was not much smaller than a dorm refrigerator. It was top-loading, and when opened up it looked like the Starship Enterprise. There were a bunch of wires, some looking frayed, and wondered a bit what we had gotten ourselves into. The first movie we rented cost about fifteen dollars for the player rental, the movie and a couple of snacks.
The movie was The Big Chill. We watched it twice, invited friends over and watched it a third time the next day and returned it all within 24 hours. Repetition aids learning, and boy, did I learn a lot by watching that movie! I’m pretty sure it was the first time I ever thought of artificial insemination by friend, and of course I loved the dark suicide images and themes (as always). I’ve seen the opening montage no less than 30 times. It was the first soundtrack I ever owned that was not a Broadway musical.
While I could wax on about each and every character, it was my introduction to the always disturbing Jeff Goldblum that I remember most. Honorable mention goes to the organ rendition of “Heard It Through The Grapevine.” While Glenn Close will be forever thought of as the rabbit-killer in another movie, she brought a warm sensibility to the truly all-star ensemble cast. Deleted from the final cut, Kevin Costner’s scenes created an enduring presence off-screen. It is almost hard to stop watching this movie because the opening montage draws you back in for another round.
Was it a simpler time? Does everyone remember their early marriage coupled with their first brush with technology? Was it perhaps, our first “R” rated movie, and therefore extra memorable for providing a little more “date” to the term “date night?” I think all of the above may be true. It was certainly a simpler, wonderful t time, and yes, I realize I sound just like my parents. Thank goodness. It’s about time.